Cricket Australia is adamant it has put players’ wellbeing first as it faces a nervous wait to find out if England will go ahead with its tour for this summer’s Ashes.
The fate of the marquee series remains in the balance, with the England and Wales Cricket Board meeting players to discuss issues in recent days.
Players remain concerned about quarantine requirements and access for families while they are in Australia. A decision from England’s authorities on the tour is expected within days.
CA has long remained confident the series will go ahead, but if it is called off it would be the biggest blow to the sport since the start of the pandemic.
“We have had regular and positive discussions with the ECB over the past six months on providing conditions which will allow players from both teams to perform at their best during the Ashes summer,” CA said on Tuesday.
“The health and wellbeing of both squads while ensuring the tour proceeds in a safe manner is a priority and we especially thank our government partners for all their support in this regard.
“We are also buoyed by rising vaccination rates and an evolving approach to the pandemic in Australia.
“The anticipated conditions for the tour, including quarantine arrangements have now been communicated to the ECB and directly to the England players and staff.”
CA’s proposal is believed to include England’s squad serving 14 days in quarantine on the Gold Coast, where they would be able to train.
They would then be granted more freedoms after that two-week period, but would still be banned for high-risk environments.
Even if England does agree to tour, authorities still face the challenge of getting the series played as scheduled.
Perth is slated to hold the fifth Test, just five days after the Sydney fixture.
However, borders are set to remain closed between NSW and Wester Australia, and questions linger about how the Optus Stadium match would be able to go ahead.
CA could potentially rejig the schedule, but that would mean either Perth missing out on a Test or one of the marquee Boxing Day and New Years’ fixtures being moved from either the MCG or SCG.
If England opted against touring, CA would face a massive logistical headache to fill the summer.
Meanwhile, the Hobart Test against Afghanistan is expected to be postponed, due to the Taliban’s stance on women’s sport.
Australia has not had a summer without a men’s international Test since 1971-72, when a rest of the world team replaced South Africa.
Several other nations are already scheduled to play elsewhere this season. Sri Lanka, West Indies and Ireland are the only other teams with a completely free window.
New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh will play Test cricket overseas through early December and any national team coming to Australia would need to serve two weeks’ quarantine before playing.