Perth loses Ashes test over Covid restrictions

Optus Stadium in Perth will not stage the fifth Ashes test match due to pandemic-related restrictions in Western Australia.

Cricket Australia announced today that the final game of the Vodafone Ashes series will be relocated to an as-yet unannounced arena.

The game was due to be staged at the 61,000-capacity stadium from January 14-18. However, Cricket Australia, Western Australian Cricket (WA Cricket), the Western Australia Government and Perth Stadium have been unable to find a workable solution that adheres to local restrictions while meeting the requirements for the players, their families, match officials, staff and broadcast partners.

The fourth Ashes test in Sydney is due to finish just five days before the fifth game starts, but current restrictions in Western Australia mean people travelling from New South Wales must self-quarantine for 14 days. The local government in Western Australia has pursued a restrictive approach to incoming travel throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Cricket Australia said discussions about a replacement venue for the fifth Ashes match are underway. Matches in the forthcoming series are scheduled for The Gabba in Brisbane, Adelaide Oval, Melbourne Cricket Ground and Sydney Cricket Ground.

Melbourne is reportedly standing by to host its second game of the series as a day/nighter as officials in Tasmania lobby to bring Ashes cricket to Hobart for the first time.

“While absolutely every effort was made to ensure the final Test match of the series could be staged in Perth, border controls, quarantine requirements and the complexities of staging a five-Test series in a tight schedule have meant it is unfortunately not possible to align the respective priorities of the WA Government, CA and WA Cricket,” said a Cricket Australia spokesperson.

“These complexities also mean that any suggestion of changing the order of the venues would not be feasible.

“CA is disappointed for WACA Cricket Members and WA fans who have been looking forward to this fixture for some time, however Cricket Australia remains committed to continue bringing elite cricket to WA.”

Nick Hockley, Cricket Australia CEO, said: “We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the WA Government, relevant agencies and Perth Stadium over recent months.

“We are very disappointed that we are unable to stage the fifth Vodafone men’s Ashes Test at Perth Stadium. We did everything we could in partnership with the WA Government and WA Cricket to make it work under the current border and health arrangements, but unfortunately this was not possible.

“We are particularly disappointed for Western Australian cricket fans who were so looking forward to seeing the first ever Ashes Test at the new stadium.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with the WA Government, Perth Stadium and WA Cricket to hold upcoming BBL matches and the Dettol ODI v New Zealand in Perth and thank them for their continued support.”

Image: Nathan Hurst on Unsplash