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There was clear uncertainty over the upcoming Ashes series to go ahead as scheduled as few English players raised concerns over how strict restrictions will be when they arrive in Australia, the players wanted clarity over restrictions and assurance over relaxations before arrival. Former cricketers and experts have had their say and majority were on the negative side (not to tour Australia with strict rules in place), active players who are expected to tour haven’t being committed but after talks to Cricket Australia there’s some positive news coming in.

There have been many talks over the past few weeks between the two boards and early this week there were talks between English players and Cricket Australia that saw some positive news come in with quarantine restriction for families being eased.

It is reportedly stated that families of England’s players and staff travelling over the Christmas period will be allowed to quarantine at the Yarra Valley resort in Melbourne and it’s also believed they’ll not be confined to their rooms and also by mid November the quarantine period for arrivals into Australia could be reduced from 14 days to seven.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) late yesterday put out an official statement that read : “Over recent weeks we have made excellent progress in moving forward on the England Men’s Ashes Tour.

To facilitate further progress and allow a squad to be selected, The ECB Board has met today and given its approval for the tour to go ahead. This decision is subject to several critical conditions being met before we travel.

We look forward to the ongoing assistance from Cricket Australia in resolving these matters in the coming days”.

Clearly, English players aren’t convinced despite talks to the board and there still are a few conditions set that Cricket Australia need to reach for the Ashes to go ahead as scheduled. The conditions are not mentioned above and could possibly be the strict quarantine period and restrictions that’s in place in Australia, especially Western Australia. The ECB has made relaxations for English players and touring teams, they’ve build soft bubbles keeping the players mental health in mind after being in hard and strict bubbles for nearly an year without any break. The ECB for a while now have been operating in a soft bubbles and would have been their request and also an assurance with the quarantine for their families not being strict.

CONCERNS FOR ENGLAND AHEAD OF THE BIG ASHES : The series will commence on 8th of December, there’s a lot at stake for Cricket Australia and will look to meet the set conditions by ECB. England are likely to miss Ben Stokes as he’s on indefinite break away from the game and also early this week he had a second surgery to his index finger he’d injured during the 1st leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL). England are to miss a few more in Jofra Archer who’s yet to recover from his elbow injury, Moeen Ali who’d announced his retirement from test cricket last week to focus and prolong his white-ball career will be and big miss and so will Jos Buttler who’s unlikely to tour Australia.

ECB’S NEW CONTRACTS STRUCTURE : ECB previously used to issue seperate red and white ball contracts and now under the new system 20 annual contracts have been awarded on a single contract list. There are a couple more categories under the new structure; Increment contracts and Pace bowling development contract.

CENTRAL CONTRACTS : Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonathan Bairstow,
Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, Ollie Pope, Adil Rashid,
Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes,
Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

INCREMENT CONTRACTS : Dom Bess, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone.

PACE BOWLING DEVELOPMENT CONTRACTS : Saqib Mahmood, Craig Overton, Olly Stone.

The above contracted are for a period of 12 months commencing on 1st of October 2021.

The new contracts structure for sure is a boon to many players who’ve received central contracts and this was designed to meet future need and clearly will see great outcome. The new system was developed working in consultation with the players, Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) and the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA). Managing director of Men’s England Cricket, Ashley Giles and head coach, Chris Silverwood were on panel who’ve awarded the annual contracts.

The new contracts structure has been a great move and has seen a lot of positive feedback. The main focus remains on the upcoming Ashes that’s still having a gloomy picture and it’s now all over to Cricket Australia who’ll look to make negotiations with the government and hand assurances to English players for the Ashes to go ahead as scheduled.

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