Sport Cricket Australia boss: Ashes preparations going 'full steam ahead'
Stokes added to England's Ashes squad: 'I'm ready for Australia'
Ben Stokes has been added to England's Ashes squad after declaring himself ready to play competitive cricket again. The all-rounder was initially unavailable when England named the touring group for Australia, having spent the past three months on an indefinite hiatus to allow a finger injury to heal as well as prioritise his mental health.
The Cricket Australia (CA) boss says Ashes preparations are proceeding "full steam ahead" after the tour was given the green light by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
Concerns over Australia's Covid travel restrictions and the prospect of multiple withdrawals among the visiting side were real enough just last week for the ECB to suggest they may not take part in the marquee series if a group befitting of the historic rivalry could not be raised.
But successful discussions with CA over arrangements for families and quarantine meant there were no opt-outs, with England on Sunday naming a near full-strength squad for the tour.
Buttler: No family in Australia means no Ashes for me
Jos Buttler is hoping for clarity over this winter's Ashes tour "in the next few days", but says he won't travel if his family are unable to join him.Buttler is preparing to fly to the United Arab Emirates next week for the Twenty20 World Cup, but whether he also takes part in this winter's marquee Test series in Australia remains up in the air.
Silverwood: Root showed a lot of class in Ashes negotiationECB conditionally approves England's Ashes tourEngland confirm Stokes Ashes omission
Following the ECB's tick of approval, which was given "subject to several critical conditions being met", CA's chief executive Nick Hockley said preparations were now moving "full steam ahead".
"We are working with all of the relevant parties to play the schedule as planned," he said.
Video: England and Australia given the green light for Ashes series (Evening Standard)
"Now that the tour's confirmed, we're doubling down on the finer detail with each of the venues and each of the host cities."
Mr Hockley also offered insight into the ECB's conditions for the tour's approval, which include working out visa exemptions and biosecurity protocols.
Paine: Ashes will go ahead with or without Root
Tim Paine said the Ashes will go ahead regardless of some England players' reluctance to deal with tough Covid-19 quarantine restrictions. England skipper Joe Root and others on his team have expressed doubts about the tour due to 'bubble fatigue' and concerns their families will not be able to travel with them due to Australia's strict protocols. © PA Cricket Australia is negotiating with authorities and England's board over travel conditions and whether players' families can join them at the Ashes "The Ashes are going ahead.
He said: "We're working to process the various visa and travel exemptions for the entire touring party... that's the first set of conditions.
"The second set is the finer detail of our biosecurity protocols. That's work that's ongoing, as between our respective medical teams.
"What I can say is that we've got a range of medical protocols that will vary depending on the nature of the situation in any of the cities as we move around Australia for the tour.
"Planning an Ashes series is a big, complex endeavour in normal times. But obviously with the overlay of biosecurity requirements, the level of detail of planning by lots of people is absolutely superb.
"I think we're all now looking forward to that first ball on the eighth of December at the Gabba."
After the first Test in Brisbane, the sides will meet for a day/night Test in Adelaide, the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, then matches in Sydney and Perth.
Cricket-England not strongest for Ashes but Australia cannot be complacent - Atherton .
Cricket-England not strongest for Ashes but Australia cannot be complacent - AthertonEngland on Sunday named their best available squad, with all-rounders Ben Stokes and Sam Curran missing out, although paceman Stuart Broad was included despite a calf injury.