BRISBANE, Australia (AP) – Let the hype, hyperbole and general madness begin. It’s almost Ash Hour, the most anticipated series in world cricket.
The first group of English cricketers arrived at Brisbane Airport on Saturday morning to begin a 14-day quarantine at a luxury Gold Coast resort and nearly a month before the Ashes’ first test against Australia.
Players and staff are required to self-isolate in their rooms for three days of strict quarantine, but have been granted exemptions to then train at a nearby stadium. They can also use the facilities available at the resort, including two championship golf courses and tennis courts.
Australian players will also be quarantined at the same complex after returning from the Twenty20 World Cup to the United Arab Emirates. The rest of the English players on their T20 squad, including Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler, will also arrive once the T20 tournament is over.
“I think it was settled amicably and everyone handled it the best they could in a changing situation,” England captain Joe Root said before leaving England. “And we are very grateful to have the opportunity to go under the conditions that we have.”
Root, versatile Ben Stokes, drummer Rory Burns and bowlers Jack Leach and Dom Bess were among those who arrived on Saturday for what will be a 10-week trip to the West Indies. Stokes was only added to the England squad last month after recovering from a finger injury and taking the time to prioritize his sanity.
On the bright side, England players will have the longest time before an Ashes series to acclimatize to the heat and humidity of subtropical South East Queensland and get used to the early hours of the day.
Since Queensland is not on the time of day, it is daylight around 4.30am to 5am with the chirping birds doing their best to wake sleepers at least an hour earlier.
Australia had closed its borders until recently, when COVID-19 vaccination rates reached what the government considered acceptable levels, now at nearly 80% of people fully vaccinated. The English players were not given any special consideration during the quarantine upon arrival.
England will have two teams in Australia, including the English Lions backup team which will play a three-day warm-up match against the English test team at Redlands in Brisbane from 23-25 November and a four-day match. to Ian Healy Oval, also in Brisbane, from November 30 to December 3.
The first test begins at Gabba in Brisbane on December 8 and the second is scheduled to be played in Adelaide from December 16 to 20. The third will take place from December 26 to 30 in Melbourne, the fourth from January 5 to 9 in Sydney and the last test from January 14 to 18 in Perth.
The Perth test is subject to further negotiations with Western Australian state officials over current quarantine restrictions which may still be in effect as of mid-January.
Australia own the Ashes, having beaten England in Australia in 2017-18 and then kept them in the 2019 Series draw in England.
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