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Friday, January 21, 2022

Cricket Australia firm up crowd, travel plans for Ashes

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 have 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 their trip in hotel lockdown.

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

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

“Our hope is everyone gets vaccinated and this summer we’ll be back to live events,” he said.

“All indications are that vaccine rates will be high come the end of the year, so we remain extremely optimistic.”

Tim Paine’s team is slated to open their 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 government 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.

“We don’t yet have all the answers but we’re in dialogue.”


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