England's men will begin their attempts to reclaim the Ashes at Brisbane on December 8, with an intense programme of five Tests in six weeks culminating at Perth's new Optus Stadium in mid-January. The multi-format women's Ashes will commence shortly after, with Australia looking to a achieve a third consecutive defence across a single Test, three ODIs and three T20Is.
With the T20 World Cup being staged in October and November in India, and the likelihood of players arriving in Australia having to quarantine for 14 days, the start of the 2021-22 Ashes has been pushed back significantly. The first Test will remain at the Gabba, where Australia have only lost once since 1988, before a day-night game at Adelaide Oval.
With Melbourne and Sydney retaining their traditional Boxing Day and New Year spots, the series will finish up in Western Australia - but not at the WACA, which hosted its last Ashes Test in 2017. This will be the first time since 1994-95 that the Ashes has not concluded at the SCG.
Ahead of the men's Ashes, Australia will face Afghanistan for the first time at Test level in Hobart from November 27 after that meeting was postponed from last season due to the impacts of Covid-19. For the Australian players also involved at the T20 World Cup that will be their only preparation before facing England.
Joe Root has overseen England's last two Ashes campaigns - a 2-2 home draw in 2019 and a 4-0 loss on the 2017-18 tour - and the challenge this time around will only be increased by a packed schedule and the biosecurity provisions implemented in response to Covid-19.
England's Test specialists are likely to arrive in Australia in advance, with those multi-format players involved at the T20 World Cup joining them. The schedule for warm-up matches is yet to be confirmed, as are rules governing crowds and whether fans can travel from overseas.
"In a perfect world, we would welcome England fans back to these shores for a summer of singing and sportsmanship," Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia's interim CEO, said. "Of course, we will be guided by the Australian government on all things related to international travel."
He added: "We are absolutely thrilled to announce our men's and women's international fixtures for the 2021-22 summer of cricket. The lessons learned from successfully delivering a safe summer in '20-21 gives us confidence on what we're able to achieve, and we're all hoping for a summer of full crowds and an Ashes atmosphere we're all accustomed to.
"The Ashes is one of the great global sporting rivalries and seems to grow ever larger with each series and generation. We cannot wait to host England men over five Tests this summer. The most recent men's Ashes series was a remarkable contest that captured the imagination of the entire cricketing world and I expect this summer to be no different."
Heather Knight will lead England's attempts to regain the Women's Ashes for the first time since 2015, starting with a Test at Canberra's Manuka Oval. T20I and ODI legs will follow in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, with points on offer for all the matches. Following the conclusion of the series, both teams will head to New Zealand for the 50-over Women's World Cup, which was postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic.
"An Ashes series in Australia is a global highlight of the cricketing calendar and is always a focus series for England teams," Tom Harrison, the ECB's chief executive officer, said.
"It's a hugely exciting prospect that both men's and women's squads will be heading to Australia. It promises to be a highly competitive and close contest with teams in both series evenly matched. I have little doubt that the rivalry and drama will once again capture the interest of sports lovers across the globe.
"2022 is going to be an amazing year for women's cricket. With an Ashes, a World Cup in New Zealand and a home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, this could be a landmark year for our team. It represents a huge challenge, but one Heather Knight and her talented squad are very excited about."
Men's 2021-22 Ashes schedule
December 8-12 1st Test, Gabba December 16-20 2nd Test, Adelaide Oval (D/N) December 26-30 3rd Test, MCG January 5-9 4th Test, SCG January 14-18 5th Test, Perth
Women's 2021-22 Ashes schedule
January 27-30 only Test, Manuka Oval February 4 1st T20I, North Sydney Oval February 6 2nd T20I, North Sydney Oval February 10 3rd T20I, Adelaide Oval February 13 1st ODI, Adelaide Oval February 16 2nd ODI, Junction Oval February 19 3rd ODI, Junction Oval