Far North could host Aussie stars in lead-up to Ashes

BUDGET cuts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to compromise Australia’s preparations to retain the Ashes next summer and send the nation’s best cricketers to Far North Queensland.

Coach Justin Langer would love to explore staging winter camps and red-ball games in Queensland, as well as sending players to train at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.

High-performance boss Ben Oliver wants to drive more Australia A tours, wary that India A and England Lions are able to fast-track their future Test starts by playing far more matches.

CA has held planning meetings in recent weeks and is open to all options, which could include the likes of captain Tim Paine and Marnus Labuschagne steeling themselves for the Old Enemy in FNQ this year.

Marnus Labuschagne could be warming up for next summer’s Ashes with a stint in Far North Queensland. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Sources have confirmed to the Cairns Post that leading cricket officials have sounded out availability of venues in FNQ, and while the welcome mat would likely be rolled out for the national team, a formal approach is yet to be made.

Some of those ideas are also expensive and at the mercy of how much CA’s revenue tumbles because of the pandemic.

Oliver and Langer will wait for the result from the India-England Test, which begins at 3pm AEDT on Thursday, before sitting down to shape this year’s playing schedule.

Australia will qualify for the World Test Championship Final against New Zealand in June if England pulls off a shock victory.

The ICC is expected to sign off on squads of 25 for the Test grand final, allowing the competing countries to play inter-squad warm-up matches in the UK. They would then release 10 players the day before the decider begins.

Should Australia qualify for the historic match, that trip to England in June would kick-start an exhausting run of international cricket.

Multi-format stars such as Pat Cummins, David Warner and Steve Smith — who will spend April and May in India for the IPL — would then jet straight to the West Indies for a white-ball tour in July.

That would just about roll into T20 World Cup warm-up tours against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the World Cup in India in October-November, and the home Ashes series, which will be followed by a Test tour of Pakistan next February.

But if India wins or draws the fourth Test against Eng­land, Australia will have nothing in the diary until the Windies tour in four months.

Originally published asStars could warm-up for Ashes in FNQ

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