Optus Stadium lands final Test for Ashes debut

Cricket Australia has confirmed the schedule for the 2021-22 Ashes series against England, with Perth’s Optus Stadium replacing Sydney Cricket Ground as the venue for the final Test, and full crowds being planned.

Having opened in January 2018, Optus Stadium has only held two Test matches – against India in December 2018 and a day-night fixture with New Zealand in December 2019. The 60,000-seat venue has replaced the WACA Ground as Perth’s stadium for major cricket events, with the WACA set to be transformed into a “boutique venue”.

Sydney Cricket Ground has held the final Ashes Test for the past two decades, but it will now stage the fourth Test. Australia will begin its Ashes defence at the Gabba in Brisbane from December 8-12 ahead of a day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval from December 16-20. The traditional Boxing Day and New Years’ Tests will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (December 26-30) and Sydney Cricket Ground (January 5-9) respectively, with the final Test scheduled for Optus Stadium (January 14-18).

The Ashes schedule was announced today (Wednesday) as Cricket Australia detailed its 2021-22 international season. In addition to the Ashes series, the Australian men’s team will host Afghanistan for a Test for the first time ever at Blundstone Arena in Bellerive, Tasmania from November 27, before finishing with nine one-day international and Twenty20 matches against New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia’s interim CEO, said: “Building on a fantastic summer of cricket just gone, we are absolutely thrilled to announce our women’s and men’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.”

He added: “The men’s 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 over five Tests this summer. The most recent Ashes series was a remarkable contest that captured the imagination of the entire cricketing world and I expect this summer to be no different.

“In a perfect world, we would welcome the Barmy Army back to these shores for a summer of singing and sportsmanship. Of course, we will be guided by the Australian Government on all things related to international travel.”

Image: Tama Leaver/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size