The order of the Tests will not change after a late bid by the WA government for a swap
The fifth Ashes Test will be relocated away from Perth after Cricket Australia confirmed it could not be held in Western Australia due to border restrictions in place.
There will also be no change in order of the Test matches – on Sunday the WA sports minister Tony Buti made a last-ditch bid for Perth to switch with Adelaide for the second Test – with the replacement venue to be confirmed in the coming days. Hobart is the narrow favourite behind having a second match at the MCG.
It could be that there will now be two day-night matches in the series given that broadcasters will have lost the primetime-friendly west coast slot which allows Test cricket to broadcast in the evening in other major cities.
A few weeks ago WA Cricket had been bullish about its chances of staging the Test with chief executive Christina Matthews putting it as a “97%” chance, but that receded quickly in recent days with the WA government insisting on 14 days quarantine for anyone associated with putting on the Test from outside the state including key broadcast personnel along with players’ families.
“We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of the WA Government, relevant agencies and Perth Stadium over recent months,” Nick Hockley, the Cricket Australia chief executive, said.
“We are very disappointed that we are unable to stage the fifth 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.”
Matthews put a figure of between three and five million dollars on the cost of losing the Test of which WA would hope to recover half through CA. She added the the difficulties of all the broadcast and production crew needed had only become apparent in the last two weeks but denied that had been an oversight.
“And not just the broadcasters in Fox and Seven – there’s also Hawkeye, there’s Spidercam and there’s DRS that only have a certain specialist group of people who follow it all around the country,” Matthews said. “They can’t get here any earlier than the players. When they come to do their job, they’ve got to go in and out of the public areas.
“So there’s things that can’t be kept away from the public and that wasn’t fully known until about 10 days ago. I don’t think we dropped the ball, but maybe we needed to dig a bit deeper into things Cricket Australia need to tell the government.
“I’m really cranky about the fact it’s the second year in a row we’re missing a Test, but there’s really no one to blame which makes it really hard. It’s just circumstances.”
There was never any chance of the late suggestion of a Test swap being possible and it was quickly shut down by the South Australian Cricket Association on Monday shortly before the CA announcement.
Hobart remains a slight favourite to be the replacement venue ahead of Melbourne, with Cricket Tasmania chief executive Dominic Baker adamant the Tim Paine saga shouldn’t have an impact on any decision.
Tasmania, which has not staged a Test since 2016, had been due to host the one-off Test between Australia and Afghanistan last month
Both the NSW government and Cricket ACT have also stated their desire to host the match, at the SCG and Manuka Oval respectively, if required
Queensland sports minister Stirling Hinchliffe on Monday threw the Gabba forward as an option to hold a second Test this summer.
“We’d love to be able to see more content here at the Gabba,” Hinchcliffe said. “We’d obviously want to continue talking to Cricket Australia about making sure that we provide the best facilities for the great content.
“Nick Hockley and I speak regularly and it’d be wonderful to play a part in making sure that the Ashes is the best series possible. We’ve got to see what the terms and what the arrangements will be and the circumstances. [We’re] happy to have that conversation.”
WA is slated to host one other international this summer, with an ODI involving New Zealand on January 30. That series-opener would also likely be subject to biosecurity arrangements.
It comes after the WACA was due to host the women’s Test between India and Australia in October before it was moved to Queensland. A one-off Test between Afghanistan and Australia was postponed last year due to Covid-19.