The threat of COVID-19 looms over Ashes, World Cup

Meg Lanning and Heather Knight with the Women's Ashes Trophy. © Getty Images

As the threat of COVID-19 looms large, Australia and England players have been warned players who contract COVID-19 towards the end of the Ashes won’t be allowed to travel to New Zealand for the upcoming World Cup.

Recently, Cricket Australia (CA) announced the changes to the Ashes schedule with the multi-format series now starting from January 20. The two teams will face off in three T20Is in Adelaide, followed by the one-off Test match in Canberra. The multi-format series will conclude on with three ODIs before teams depart of the World Cup in New Zealand.

Teams are required to go quarantine in New Zealand for 10-days before the World Cup, which starts from March 4. The officials have informed the teams that the late additions to the World Cup squad of 17 players won’t be allowed under current regulations set out by New Zealand Health and the International Cricket Council.

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Australian chief selector Shawn Flegler expressed his concerns about the situation. “It’s going to be tough. Our plans are still that we’ll go as a group straight after the Ashes. If things do change and we can get players over later, then we’ll look to do that,” he said.

“But at the moment, it’s one group leaving and doing quarantine together. So that’s why we’re trying to put protocols in place to minimise any issues with COVID (during the Ashes).”

These strict travel regulations raise the prospect of key players missing the tournament entirely if they contract the virus by the end of the Ashes series. These players, if they contract the virus, will miss the one chance they have to fly to New Zealand with their teammates.

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Flegler said the nature of the back-to-back tournaments means the women would face tighter restrictions during the Ashes. “The way that we’re looking at it is we have to be prepared that there’ll be players who will miss games. The strength that we do have is we’ve got a number of players that could come in and take the place of someone who does have COVID,” he concluded.

Australia will select the squad for the Ashes series next week. The squad is expected to be larger than normal to cover all three formats and a range of positions should replacement players be needed.