NSW’s decision to open its international borders could have major implications for the Ashes as cricket legends propose a shock change.
Cricket legends Shane Warne and Michael Vaughan have proposed a change to the Ashes schedule in a bid to put an end to the uncertainty created by border closures.
Following drawn-out negotiations over quarantine conditions, England finally formally agreed to take part in the Ashes and have named a near full-strength to tour Australia this summer.
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England is expected to arrive fly in to Queensland in mid November to serve its quarantine and prepare for the first match of the series, which is scheduled to be held at the Gabba in Brisbane starting on December 8.
But NSW’s unexpected decision to open its borders to international arrivals from November 1 has prompted speculation the Ashes schedule should be shuffled around.
On Friday, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet made the surprise announcement NSW would soon say goodbye to both hotel and home quarantine.
He announced returning vaccinated Australians – and even tourists – will be able to fly into the state from overseas on November 1, and providing they have a negative PCR test, enter society freely.
“From November 1, those people returning to Australia … and those who want to come back, who want to visit Australia and come to Sydney, hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past,” he explained.
The announcement has sparked calls for the Ashes to start in Sydney so players and staff could avoid having to quarantine.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan, who led his side to a shock win in the 2005 Ashes, said it made sense to make the most of NSW’s new arrangements.
“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,” he tweeted.
“Why put players/broadcasters through quarantine when NSW look like double vaccinated non positive tested people won’t have too ? #Thoughts”.
Vaughan’s proposal was enthusiastically supported by Australian cricket great Shane Warne, who has been critical of Australia’s “inhumane” quarantine rules.
“Love this idea!” Warne tweeted.
“Over to you @CricketAus! And let’s hope all states take NSW lead on this.
“Especially for my poor fellow Victorians.”
Any change to the Ashes schedule would mark a significant break with Australian cricketing history.
The Gabba has traditionally hosted the first Test match of the summer and England has a notoriously poor record at the ground, winning only two Tests there since the end of the Second World War.
It would be a huge change if the first match of the Ashes was played at the SCG, which usually hosts the last game of the series in the New Year.
Earlier this week, Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said there were no plans to change the scheduling for the Ashes, despite Queensland and Western Australia’s borders being closed for the foreseeable future.
“Absolutely our plan is to play the matches as scheduled,” he said.
“We’re desperate to play in Perth. There’s a huge amount of work going on in the background to make sure that Test match can happen.”