Uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – in particular Australia’s strict border controls – has dogged the build-up to the marquee five-match series, but planning appears to be entering the home straight after English cricket’s governing body said it was satisfied that the series could go ahead.
That comes after a pointed statement earlier this week saying the board had to meet to decide "whether the conditions in place are sufficient for the Tour to go ahead and enable the selection of a squad befitting a series of this significance”.
Australian authorities revealed living conditions for the tour to English players (and, crucially, their families) at the weekend, and it is expected that most players who are fit will travel having had concerns largely allayed.
The ECB Board met on Friday – without its chair Ian Watmore, who left the organisation on Thursday just a year into his five-year term – and gave selection chief Chris Silverwood the green light to pick a squad.
"Over recent weeks we have made excellent progress in moving forward on the England Men's Ashes Tour,” read an ECB statement. "To facilitate further progress and allow a squad to be selected, The ECB Board has met today and given its approval for the tour to go ahead.
“This decision is subject to several critical conditions being met before we travel. We look forward to the ongoing assistance from Cricket Australia in resolving these matters in the coming days.”
There remains uncertainty about the location of the Fifth Test, with Perth unlikely to open its borders, even to other Australians, until well into 2022.
The likeliest locations for the match are Hobart and Sydney, although Canberra and Melbourne are possibilities, too.