Australia’s delayed trip to England will go ahead next month after Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board agreed to detailed biosecurity and travel plans.
On Wednesday the Australian government granted exemptions for outbound travel for the touring squad in what will be the first international tour undertaken by an Australian national sporting team since the Covid-19 pandemic began.
The three ODIs and three T20s, originally scheduled for July, were postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak and will now be played during September in two bubbles – in Southampton and Manchester. The 20-over games will be played at the Ageas Bowl on 4, 6 and 8 September, while the one-dayers will be hosted at Old Trafford on 11, 13 and 16 September.
Both venues have successfully hosted cricket amid the pandemic this English summer, with Pakistan, Ireland and West Indies all playing series there across various formats. The venues were chosen for their suitability to accommodate teams in a bio-secure bubble, given the location of hotels on-site.
It means England will have hosted all its intended men’s international cricket this summer – a remarkable feat given the widespread disruption to sport due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Justin Langer’s side will leave Perth on 23 August and head to Derby. They will play a handful of practice games before taking to the field for their first competitive match since March in the series opener at Southampton.
“It’s vital for cricket that we do everything we can to keep the game going in these tough times,” Langer said. “I am delighted with how the players have returned to their states from the break back in March. The whole squad has come back fitter and stronger, which is great testament to each of them.
“We have a massive assignment ahead with World Cups, Test Series against India and South Africa and the Ashes next year. We can’t wait to get back into it again.”
Preparations had begun in anticipation the tour would go ahead – some of Australia’s top players were reportedly placed in what has essentially been lockdown as of Sunday in an effort to minimise the risk of infection. David Warner, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa were all separated from their NSW teammates and have been allowed restricted movement during the week.
Cricket Australia said it had worked closely with the federal and Western Australian governments, as well as health authorities, in planning the tour.
A preliminary 26-man Australian squad had been named in July and has been whittled down to 21. Newcomers Daniel Sams, Riley Meredith and Josh Philippe made the cut, while Glenn Maxwell returns in place of D’Arcy Short. Marcus Stoinis also returns and will travel with the group.
Australia had already postponed a home Twenty20 series against West Indies that was slated for October. The last time Aaron Finch’s side played was against New Zealand in the trans-Tasman ODI at the SCG on 13 March.
Australia squad for tour of England: Aaron Finch, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Daniel Sams, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.