Sunday Territorian



CRICKET hungry Sydney and Melbourne have made it clear they’re ready and raring to host more Tests, with England reserving the right to request changes to the schedule.

England’s Cricket Board on Saturday confirmed they had approved the tour to go ahead, and now their selectors are set to name a squad in the next 48 hours so the complicate­d process of getting them into the country for the Ashes can begin.

Ben Stokes is still considered highly unlikely to tour, but otherwise there is a growing expectatio­n England will be full strength.

The ECB’s commitment to the tour still comes with an asterisk, and Australian cricket officials resigned to there conjecture over tour conditions right up and then throughout the series as both board’s juggle the ever-changing response of State Government­s to the pandemic.

However, the Ashes on and for the second summer in a row Cricket Australia has been praised for rescuing the game from disaster.

As revealed by News Corp, England players may refuse to go into bubbles during the Ashes, putting enormous pressure on the Perth Test in particular, given the West Australian Government’s hardline stance on quarantini­ng.

In a summer which will mark 140 years since Australia and England first played at the SCG, Sydney has made it very clear to Cricket Australia they’re ready for extra Tests.

Cricket Australia is yet to officially announce the tour, but NSW powerbroke­rs were on the front foot.

“Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings and chief executive Nick Hockley are to be congratula­ted for their role in negotiatio­ns with the ECB and with the State and Federal

Government­s here in Australia,” said Venues NSW and Sydney Cricket Ground Chairman, Tony Shepherd, who has stressed Sydney would prefer to see the Ashes go ahead as scheduled.

“In difficult circumstan­ces, they have delivered a great result for cricket fans around the world, just as they did for India’s tour of Australia last summer.

“We’re delighted with the overnight confirmati­on from the England Cricket Board that this summer’s tour will go ahead.”

England’s confirmati­on of the tour taking place is still subject to conditions, but NSW Sports Minister Natalie Ward was also letting the cricket world know Sydney was open for

One of the greatest sporting rivalries in the pantheon of world sport has been saved this coming summer,” said Ward.

Victoria is also poised to play a key role in the Ashes, with the families of England players set to be quarantine­d possibly for a shortened seven-day period – in the Yarra Valley prior to Christmas. The MCG would also be in prime position to host extra Test matches should Cricket Australia change the schedule.

It’s understood England have agreed in principle to the tour after being satisfied at quarantine conditions offered by CA for their squad on the Gold Coast which would include a period of isolation, but then the ability for training freedoms during the two weeks.

England continue to give themselves an out if COVID conditions went pear shaped in Australia, but Cricket Australia insiders say discussion­s only point to the fact the Ashes will certainly proceed – the only lingering doubt is on whether the current schedule of playing in five different cities will be possible.

 ?? ?? Ben Stokes.
Ben Stokes.

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