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CA not expecting mass withdrawals or Ashes boycott

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The withdrawals of Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes and Dawid Malan from the Indian Premier League were seen by some as not boding well for the Ashes but Woakes has said his withdrawal was designed to give him every chance of success in Australia.

Hockley and Harrison remain in regular contact to over the future of the series.

“Cricket Australia continues to work closely with the ECB and government authorities in Australia regarding the upcoming Ashes series, which will be the centrepiece for one of the biggest summers of cricket on record,” CA said in a statement.

“We are currently planning the operational requirements of this tour and working with the ECB on the proposed make-up of the England touring party.

“As was the case last season, CA will work constructively and in partnership with government to deliver the summer of cricket, while ensuring the health, wellbeing and safety of the community.”

While Australia’s off-season program this year was limited to back-to-back white-ball series in the Caribbean and Bangladesh after the postponement of the Tests in South Africa, England’s men have played 33 games across all formats, with tours to Sri Lanka and India from January to March followed by a busy home season.

They are also due to play a Twenty20 series in Pakistan next month leading into the World Cup before flying to Australia for the Ashes.

Under CA protocols for both sides, players will be under level three measures in “clean” COVID cities Brisbane and Adelaide, which allows for reasonable freedoms such as eating outdoors, outdoor exercise and golf.

Restrictions could be stepped up in Melbourne and Sydney, currently locked down to curb outbreaks, to level five, similar to measures for last season’s Gabba Test which was played under quarantine environment with players able to leave the team hotel only to train and play.

This would give CA the best chance of satisfying Western Australia’s hardline protocols to take the series out west, though there is talk that if a Test was to be moved it would be Perth’s.

CA, however, is optimistic vaccination will enable less stringent conditions this summer.

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