Shepparton News

Working hard to placate English players

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Cricket Australia plans on shoring up England’s Ashes logistics in coming weeks as it holds out hope of capacity crowds watching this summer’s Test series.

English Test players, worried about Australia’s strict quarantine rules and interstate border closures, have flagged concerns about whether families will be permitted to join them on tour.

England has played more internatio­nal cricket than any other side since COVID-19 first brought the sport to a halt, with Ben Stokes currently on a mental-health break amid widespread fears about biosecurit­y bubble fatigue.

CA, which has been in close contact with federal and state government­s plus the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), wants to assuage the fears of Joe Root’s team.

‘‘Our hope is, over the course of coming weeks, we’ll be able to provide assurances,’’ CA chief executive Nick Hockley told SEN.

‘‘The plans we’ll have in place will provide the comfort they’re going to have a great experience.

‘‘That those who want to bring family members, that they can.

‘‘Ultimately it will be their decision as to who they bring, but we’re working extremely constructi­vely with the ECB.’’

A handful of Indian stars travelled with family during 2020-21, but that touring party, including partners and children, finished its trip in hotel lockdown.

CA, having already put tickets on sale for the muchantici­pated series that begins on December 8, is upbeat the schedule will remain unchanged and fans will be free to flock to all five venues.

However, the governing body confirmed a delayed start to its men’s and women’s domestic seasons.

A one-dayer between South Australia and Western Australia in Adelaide on September 22 will mark the first men’s game, while the women’s one-day competitio­n will now be staged entirely after the WBBL.

Four states will start their Sheffield Shield campaigns later this month, but Victoria and NSW still don’t know when, where and how they’ll get on the park.

Hockley, asked about the prospect of a ‘‘no jab, no entry’’ policy, noted they will take the lead from health authoritie­s.

‘‘All indication­s are that vaccine rates will be high come the end of the year, so we remain extremely optimistic,’’ he said.

Tim Paine’s team is slated to open its home season with a one-off Test against Afghanista­n in Hobart.

The fate of that fixture, in doubt because of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanista­n, remains in the hands of federal and state government­s plus the Internatio­nal Cricket Council (ICC).

Tasmania premier Peter Gutwein has flagged concerns about the match proceeding in light of reports about the future of women’s sport in Afghanista­n.

‘‘It’s an extremely challengin­g and complex situation,’’ Hockley said.

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