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Optus Stadium has ’50-50’ chance of hosting Ashes Test

Christina Matthews, the chief executive of the Western Australia Cricket Association, has conceded that Perth’s Optus Stadium only has a 50-50 chance of hosting the final Ashes Test between Australia and England in January.

Optus Stadium is due to stage the fifth and final Test from January 14-18 but strict COVID-19 regulations in the state of Western Australia have cast doubt over Perth’s ability to host.

The Ashes will take place across five states, each of which have their own COVID-19 rules. The series will get underway on December 8 at the Gabba in Brisbane, before Tests are staged at the Adelaide Oval, Melbourne Cricket Ground and Sydney Cricket Ground.

Last month, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) gave its approval for the Ashes to go ahead “subject to several critical conditions”. Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley said at the time that the body would “desperately” like to play the fifth Test in Perth, but Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan insisted that teams would have to comply with the rules.

A final decision on Optus Stadium’s hosting rights will be made nearer the time, but Matthews believes the Test is currently in the balance as exemptions would be needed for players, staff and media entering Western Australia from New South Wales.

“It’s a matter of whether cricket can meet those demands or not,” Matthews told ABC Radio. “I think it’s quite possible that Cricket Australia might have got a bit distracted over the past week. But there’s still a lot of work being done on getting the Test here.

“One of the difficulties for cricket is just the high level of technology that’s needed around the broadcast and the number of people that are needed around the broadcast compared to an AFL broadcast. It’s one thing getting the players in [but] it’s another thing getting the people who have to broadcast.”

Matthews said that while she had previously been “97%” confident in Perth’s ability to host the Test, she is currently at 50-50.

Tasmania has expressed an interest in hosting the final Test if Perth is unable to do so. The Bellerive Oval in Hobart, Tasmania has experience of hosting Big Bash League and AFL matches and has a capacity of 20,000.

Image: Nathan Hurst on Unsplash