England's players will hear the Ashes tour conditions at the end this week
It is time to make a decision.
The situation is finally coming to an end after months of speculation about England players pulling out of the Ashes.
The players will learn about the touring conditions by the end of the week. They'll then have the weekend for final decisions on whether or not they want to participate in the series that begins on 8 December.
Captain Joe Root is not yet ready to commit to the tour. Overnight, the difficulties in making Ashes plans was made worse by the postponement a domestic fixture in Australia due to new Covid-19 cases from Queensland.
Although the series is not in danger, it's still unclear who will play for England and what changes may need to be made to allow the five Tests in England to be completed.
Remember, this is all about Covid, right!
Yes. It's not just about the current situation, but also everything that happened over the past 18-months.
England's men's cricket team has played more cricket in the Covid era than any other international teams. They are probably more active than any international team in any other sport.
They were kept in tight bio-secure bubbles and endured similar conditions during the winter of 2020. A Covid scare cut short a South African tour, but restrictions in Sri Lankan and Indian were part of a controversial rest-and rotation policy.
England had to come up with a new team for the one-day series against Pakistan this year as the UK opened up. After an entire team was isolated, Covid fears among touring Indians led to the cancellation of the last Test at Old Trafford.
In July, England's concerns about families being unable to travel to Australia with their children first surfaced. These concerns led to questions about possible quarantine conditions and restrictions that they might face during the Ashes series.
England's actors have enjoyed their dose of isolations, bubbles, and quarantines by keeping the show going during the pandemic.
There is now trepidation at the thought of leaving the relative safety and security of the UK to join a country that is beset by uncertainty.
What is the current situation in Australia?
Australia has some the most stringent Covid-19 protocols anywhere in the world. This is complicated by the fact that each state has its own regulations.
This picture is constantly changing. New South Wales published its plan to reduce restrictions, but Queensland was hit with new community cases.
This constantly changing landscape makes planning challenging, especially since each of the five Tests is currently scheduled to be held in five different states.
England will serve their quarantine period on the Gold Coast and then take part in the first Test at Brisbane's Gabba. All of Queensland is Queensland.
These community cases led to Queensland's Sheffield Shield match with Tasmania being cancelled. They also forced all Rugby Championship teams from Australia, South Africa and South Africa into isolation.
The fifth Test at Perth is also in doubt due to restrictions Western Australia imposes on travelers arriving from other states.
England has questions about quarantine, living restrictions, and their families. However, it is uncertain where the five Tests can be played. This means that some grounds could be used more than one time.
Is Joe Root still going?
England now face the most difficult Ashes tour since players came down under on boats. They have only won four Tests in Australia this century and are without Jofra archer and Ben Stokes.
Even skipper Root couldn't offer any comfort for England fans, as he didn't confirm his participation in the tour.
Root must be fair when he said he wouldn't mind being on the plane.
He will be aware that many of his teammates still have reservations. For him to be captain, he must make a public statement about his intent. This could place pressure on the other squad members and reduce their collective bargaining power.
He is also a 30-year-old father to two young children.
Root said he was desperate to be part the series, and it is likely he will be there as a leader for his country.
They will also need him. Root is the current world's number 1 batsman despite not scoring a century in any of his nine Tests under. Root is an accomplished player with six hundreds and 1,455 Test runs for 2021.
Without him, England won't win the Ashes again.
Root is desperate to play in the Ashes of Australia
What about the other players?
The England players have expressed frustration at the lack of information. James Anderson and Stuart Broad, among others, have expressed a willingness for them to tour. Jos Buttler, however, has indicated caution.
Each player will ultimately make his decision based on his unique set of circumstances.
If they are also playing in the Ashes, those who leave Monday for the Twenty20 World Cup could be gone for almost four months. Some players might find it easier to travel with their families to the United Arab Emirates.
The Test specialists have more time at home than they do in Australia. This could help to minimize any separation from their loved ones.
Some might decide having family in Australia is essential, especially during Christmas, while others may be reluctant to move into another bubble.
Because a Lions team will also be in Australia, England is likely to name a large squad.
Although it is assumed that all players will agree to the tour's conditions, that assumption is not a fact.
Cricket Australia (CA), has submitted proposals for the tour of England and Wales Cricket Boards (ECB). These plans are far better than what the ECB initially feared.
The ECB responded with a series of points that need clarification and a deadline for CAs to respond.
At the end of each week, the ECB will present tour plans to players. After that, they will make their decision about whether or not to participate.
England has begun discussions about their squad. Selections are due next week. However, the tour party cannot be finalised until players have made their decisions.
While it is not unusual for England players to be absent from tours due to non-cricketing reasons there is hope that Root will lead a team close to their full strength.
The only thing England has to do from then on is win the Ashes.