CommBank Women's Ashes - T20Is
Aussies take unconventional route to protect the Ashes
Australia's Ashes squad have started gathering in Adelaide ahead of the opening T20I against England next Thursday
14 January 2022, 04:43 PM AEST
There will be no trains, but Australia's Ashes players are using a combination of planes and automobiles to travel to Adelaide in their bid to keep their campaign COVID-19 free.
The 15-player squad for the CommBank Women's Ashes was named on Wednesday, and just 24 hours later the first players arrived in the South Australian capital to begin preparations.
The full squad will come together on January 17, ahead of Australia v Australia A practice matches the following day, and the first Ashes T20I at Adelaide Oval on January 20.
Those arriving in Adelaide this week travelled by separate commercial flights and will lay low for their first few days on tour – able to attend an outdoor gym in pairs (of different skill sets) and train in the nets, but otherwise remaining in self-isolation as the bubble is formed.
Others from Sydney and Melbourne will either drive to Adelaide or arrive via charter in the coming days, having isolated in the lead-up to their departure, and once the squad is together, restrictions on movement outside of playing and training will be extremely tight.
Spinner Jess Jonassen, who arrived in Adelaide from Brisbane on Thursday afternoon, said players were willing to do whatever it took to ensure the Ashes went ahead.
"There's no such thing as an ideal thing in the current climate of Omicron… but I'd rather make sure that everyone's safety is looked after and that we get to play a full series than risk anything, so it is what it is," Jonassen, who has returned to the Aussie squad after missing the series against India through injury, told cricket.com.au.
"It's things like whenever we're outside of our own hotel room, making sure we have a mask on, following all the normal government rules, and then for us it's also making sure like if we do go out somewhere as a group in terms – to go get a takeaway coffee, for example – that you only go in groups of three or whatnot.
"Everyone is pretty switched on and pretty used to different protocols now … particularly (those from) the southern states.
"It's using a bit of common sense within our group and obviously helping the likes of Kingy (new squad member Alana King) coming from the fortress that is Western Australia … she wouldn't have necessarily been as exposed to it before."
It is also the start of a prolonged period on the road – both Australia and England’s World Cup squads will depart for New Zealand just days after the final Ashes ODI and will not return home until early April – and a departure that came sooner than expected after a recent change saw the Ashes schedule brought forward by a week.
Ensuring players avoid COVID will be even more crucial through the late stages of the Ashes; late additions to World Cup squads won't be allowed under current regulations set out by New Zealand Health and the International Cricket Council, with just one flight per team departing for a 10-day quarantine period across the Tasman.
"We want to make sure that we give everyone the best possible chance (of making the World Cup) and mitigate whatever risks that we can," Jonassen said.
"It's one of those things, you're learning to live with it now, so you've got to try and be as flexible and adaptable as you can."
Australia captain Meg Lanning echoed that 'whatever it takes' sentiment when the World Cup squad was announced on Wednesday.
"Heading into this bubble the risk of catching COVID is significantly increased than what it perhaps was even six months ago," Lanning said.
"That is a slight difference heading into this series and that World Cup on the back end is something everyone wants to be a part of and certainly doesn't want to miss.
"There is, I guess, that little bit of nervousness but having chatted to the medical staff and all the support staff they are putting everything in place that's possible to keep the bubble very secure and minimise the risk of getting COVID.
"I'm very confident that everything is in place that needs to be and hopefully everyone can stay safe."
Australia's team management are preparing for the possibility that COVID will impact the Ashes at some point and have told players in the A squad to be prepared for a call-up to the senior squad at any time.
With that in mind, the two groups are being kept separate, to minimise the risk of a significant outbreak within the squads.
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes v England
Jan 20: First T20, Adelaide Oval
Jan 22: Second T20, Adelaide Oval
Jan 23: Third T20, Adelaide Oval
Jan 27-30: Test match, Manuka Oval
Feb 3: First ODI, Manuka Oval
Feb 6: Second ODI, Junction Oval
Feb 8: Third ODI, Junction Oval
Australia A v England A
Jan 20: First T20, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
Jan 21: Second T20, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
Jan 23: Third T20, Karen Rolton Oval, Adelaide
Jan 28: First OD, Philip Oval, Canberra
Jan 30: Second OD, Philip Oval, Canberra
Feb 2: Third OD, Philip Oval, Canberra