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England's Ashes plans in chaos as they head into series with zero first-class practice


The weather in Queensland is wreaking havoc on England’s preparations for a huge Ashes series, which begins in just over a week in Brisbane

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England look set to head into the first Ashes Test of the upcoming series next month with zero first-class cricket practice under their belt with their plans being torn to shreds by the weather.

Joe Root and his players were due to contest a three-day game in Queensland last week, but heavy rain prevented that from happening.

And a planned four-day contest against England Lions at the Ian Healy Oval also looks in danger, with more downpours forecast in Australia from the start on Tuesday.

The match was already not going to be played under strict first-class rules, to allow for those who joined up with the camp late after playing at the T20 World Cup to play restricted roles later on.

With the weather set to take its toll again, the addition of a fifth day is being explored – but may not be feasible due to clashes with local cricket on the Saturday.







Joe Root and his team-mates look set to head into the Ashes with very little useful preparation due to weather in Australia
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Visionhaus)

It all means a very restricted amount of quality practice ahead of the beginning of the first Test at The Gabba next Wednesday.

“It won’t be a first-class fixture, but it will be played as close to the intensity of a first-class game as possible,” skipper Root said.

“Ideally, we want that intensity to be as high as we can close to the Test matches.

“The quality of the players will be there from both teams and, because of the lack of preparation that we’ve had in that previous three-day game, having that extra bit of flexibility to make sure we can get as many guys as possible what they need throughout these four days is going to be crucial.

“But in terms of how we’ll approach it as two teams, there’s a lot of people that will want to prove things and will want to show that they deserve an opportunity for that first Test match.

“So, I expect the standards to be very high, and I expect it to be very competitive. And so it should be.

“This is a really good chance for us to get ahead of things, maybe get ahead of Australia in terms of preparation and game-time ahead of the series, and it would be silly for us to just cosy our way through the four days. It has to be good, hard proper cricket that we’ll benefit from.”

If there is any good news for England, it is that their Ashes opponents have also had to endure similar issues in the build-up to the series.

Their own intra-squad match has been scrapped, with the weather also a concern for the hosts.







England’s preparation for the Ashes has been hit by the weather in Australia
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And 11 of their own players have only just come out of quarantine – fresh from their T20 World Cup success in the UAE, but in need of some time apart after spending so long together in a hotel.

The stop-start build-up to the series is far from ideal for England, and Root has called upon his team-mates to find ways to make sure they maintain their focus for the main event.

“It might be that, in the next couple of days, we get some similar weather, and we don’t get the time out there in the middle,” the captain added.

“But it’s important that – whether you play those games in your mind a little bit more, visualise a little bit more – you find different ways of making sure that when that first ball comes down at the Gabba, we’re in the best place possible to come out on top.”

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