World Cup

Ashes start date set for December 8

England’s Ashes tour this winter will have its latest start date since 1965 with the series to be pushed back by almost a month.

Telegraph Sport understands that Dec 8 has been provisionally set aside as the first day of the first Test. The last time an Ashes series started so late in the year was the 1965-66 series. 

The delay means the series will be played into late January at least with the possibility of a change to the usual Ashes rota. The series is likely to start in Brisbane with a pink ball second Test in Adelaide to follow. Melbourne on Boxing Day is immovable in the calendar with the new year Test in Sydney starting as usual on the second or third of January.

It would leave England ending the series at the Optus Stadium in Perth, which will be the first time it has hosted an Ashes Test.

The series will be delayed for several reasons. Cricket Australia are planning for the eventuality of England undergoing 14 days quarantine on arrival to satisfy its government’s strict covid laws.

Also, the final of the Twenty20 World Cup in India is scheduled for Nov 14, which is shortly before Ashes series traditionally begins, delaying the arrival of white balls players from both teams arriving in Australia and serving quarantine periods. England also want at least one four-day warm up game before the first Test. If they demand for two then the Ashes series will start even later.

It is likely England’s Test specialists, which is now most of the squad, will go to Australia ahead of the Twenty20 players. Batsmen Joe Root, Dom Sibley, Dan Lawrence, Ollie Pope, Zak Crawley and Rory Burns will be given time to acclimatise to Australian pitches by not being involved in the Twenty20 World Cup. Spinners Dom Bess and Jack Leach as well as Stuart Broad and James Anderson are also unlikely to be in India so could form an advanced party in Australia as well.

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