Cricket Australia’s ironclad determination to maintain its men’s Ashes schedule has not been shaken by NSW ditching quarantine requirements.
Now it remains to be seen whether fresh angst will be stirred among England’s Test squad, who have committed to starting their tour under strict restrictions at a Gold Coast resort.
“With NSW looking like the state who now realise we have to learn to live with this virus it makes total sense to start the Ashes in Sydney,” former England captain Michael Vaughan posted on Twitter.
Australian and English players are slated to quarantine for a fortnight in Queensland after departing the Twenty20 World Cup, with exemptions in place to train.
England’s Test specialists also face a quarantine stint in Queensland before the series starts at the Gabba on December 8, as does Nathan Lyon at this stage.
Joe Root’s team, whose well-documented concerns about the tour included Australia’s stringent restrictions on incoming travellers, will no doubt take a keen interest in NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s shock announcement on Friday.
Perrottet declared vaccinated arrivals will be able to travel to his state without needing to quarantine at all, from November 1.
Scott Morrison quickly walked back Perrottet’s words, saying only Australian citizens, residents and their families will be able to will be able to dodge hotel quarantine initially.
Nonetheless, every piece of evidence suggests NSW would likely offer a far less restrictive welcoming for both squads than that of Queensland.
A late change would come a year after the NSW government answered the SOS of Cricket Australia (CA), rubber stamping India’s arrival after a plan to land in Brisbane unravelled.
But on this occasion there are no such issues with the Queensland government and CA would create a fresh mess for itself, needing to overhaul its schedule and/or hastily broker deals with multiple states for border crossings.
Such agreements, even if possible, would require players and staff to relinquish multiple freedoms.
It comes at a time when CA is desperate to share the love among its six state-association shareholders after chairman Earl Eddings was deposed on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, CA chief executive Nick Hockley declared Brisbane was locked in to host the first Test and both squads’ arrival.
“There’s been a huge amount of work by many, many people over the last six months,” Hockley said.
“The reason we’re undertaking the quarantine in Queensland is because the first Test is at the Gabba on December 8.”
Western Australia’s border rules loom as the most likely catalyst for a rejig to the calendar, although CA is still trying to ensure the fifth Test is staged in Perth as planned.