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ECB gives green light for Ashes, subject to ‘critical conditions’

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given its approval for the Ashes series against Australia to go ahead “subject to several critical conditions”.

In a statement issued on Friday, the ECB said it has made “excellent progress” in moving forward with plans for the series, which is due to take place from December 8 to January 18 at five venues across Australia.

The ECB did not disclose the conditions that would have to be met before the squad travels to Australia, but said it looked forward to “ongoing assistance” from Cricket Australia in resolving these matters.

The ongoing COVID-19 situation in Australia has cast doubt over whether the series would go ahead, with England players to face quarantine measures upon entering the country.

The first Test will be held at the Gabba in Brisbane, before the series heads to the Adelaide Oval, Melbourne Cricket Ground and Sydney Cricket Ground. The series is due to conclude at Perth’s Optus Stadium (pictured) from January 14-18.

The Ashes will take place across five states, each of which have their own rules on COVID-19. Travel from Sydney to Perth for the final Test could prove to be an issue due to Western Australia’s stricter regulations but Cricket Australia is keen for Optus Stadium to retain its hosting rights.

“We would desperately like to play the fifth Test in Perth, it’s absolutely our intention to do so,” Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley told ESPNcricinfo. “Those discussions are going on right as we speak. We are encouraged by the experience we had last summer when we were able to play five BBL (Big Bash League) matches in January.

“There’s been a whole winter of experience playing elite sport at Perth Stadium in biosecure conditions. We have strong relationships and are working through the detail as to what that might look like. It’s really important we are giving both squads, match officials and broadcasters a great experience and their wellbeing is front of mind.”

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan insisted that the teams would have to comply with the rules. “I’ll continue to talk to the chief health officer about that but the rules are there for a reason, they keep us safe,” he said. “NSW is riddled with COVID… we have to have pretty strong rules in place to protect our state and that will continue.”

Image: Nathan Hurst on Unsplash