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The Roar


It's on: England players agree to Ashes tour after CA calm COVID restriction fears

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5th October, 2021
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The Ashes is set to go ahead this summer with England’s players reportedly agreeing to tour in a move that will green-light the $200 million series.

England’s cricketers spoke with Cricket Australia (CA) bosses again on Tuesday evening, to thrash out their concerns over strict COVID-19 protocols.

Players have been given until the end of this week to make a decision by England authorities, with the team only set to tour if an adequate number of front-liner players agree to travel.

However, those fears have now seemingly been allayed with UK newspaper The Telegraph reporting that captain Joe Root has led a group of players committing to the series.

According to the report, wicketkeeper Jos Buttler could be the only England player not to agree to tour.

The star wicketkeeper-batsman had previously indicated his concerns over the tour and potential time away from family.

Allrounder Moeen Ali will be unavailable after he recently retired, while Ben Stokes is taking a break from the game and Jofra Archer is out injured.

CA are yet to officially be informed but will no doubt be breathing a massive sigh of relief given the magnitude of the decision.

In a series of two separate meetings with England players in recent days, it’s understood fears over snap lockdowns and quarantine conditions for families were the chief concerns.


But CEO Nick Hockley stressed to England players that conditions in Australia were improving, with the country’s vaccination rate on the rise.

Likewise, it’s believed a move to have a second group England’s players’ families arrive before Christmas to quarantine in Melbourne has also been crucial.

Players had feared that families would only be able to arrive with them in November, meaning a hard quarantine before a long tour.

But the move to let a second group into Victoria would be welcome news, given they do not need to spend as much time away from home.

There could be some freedoms for families in regional Victoria.

That deal is not officially over the line with the state government, but would be in line with the road map out of COVID-19 as Victoria edges closer to 70 and 80 per cent double dosage rates.

The last concern for CA will now be the Perth Test, with officials adamant they will be granted clearance to play in Western Australia just days after being in Sydney.

If that does fall through, Canberra or Hobart could seize their first Ashes Test.


Alternatively, the match could be held as a second fixture at the SCG or MCG.

Meanwhile, England’s decision comes after legend Ian Botham questioned whether the team really wanted to take on Australia in “the ultimate test”.

Botham, the most celebrated English scourge of the Aussies, has questioned the desire of some of his 2021 successors to play in the upcoming Ashes, suggesting that they “don’t fancy the ultimate test”.

“It’s the ultimate test and – I don’t know – I start to wonder maybe if some of these guys don’t fancy the ultimate test,” Botham, 65, told the Telegraph.

“You have to start to worry about it. Playing for England is the ultimate. To play Test cricket for England is the ultimate and to play against Australia in Australia, and win, is magnificent.

“I just wish that we could actually put a positive spin on something and my positive spin is: ‘Let’s get out there, let’s see if we can beat the best in their own backyard.’ Because Australia don’t lose very often in their own backyard.

“I suggest it’s a challenge and if I was in their boots, I’d already have my bags packed.”

Australia currently hold the urn after a 2-2 draw in England in 2019, with the first Test due to start in Brisbane on December 8.