The fifth Ashes Test has been put out to tender after it was officially confirmed on Monday that the final match would be relocated from Perth.
Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart are the three frontrunners to host the match, which is expected to be a day-night Test.
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The match was moved from Perth due to the WA government’s refusal to take a softer stance on their quarantine approach that would have required all players, team staff and broadcast crew to quarantine for 14 days.
The ABC reports a number of criteria will influence Cricket Australia’s final call on where the final Test will be played, including the ability to host a day-night Test, the ability to meet broadcast requirements and commercial considerations as well as implementing Covid-safe protocols for all players and staff.
Melbourne and Hobart are supposedly the two main favourites, but a late push from Sydney would mean back-to-back Tests in the Harbour City.
NSW opposition sports spokeswoman Julia Finn said Dominic Perrottet’s government must push for the SCG to host the fifth Ashes Test, which Cricket Australia confirmed on Monday would be moved from Perth due to concerns over border restrictions.
Hobart and Melbourne appear to be leading the race to host the Test, but Ms Finn says after a “horrendous” winter spent away from sporting stadiums and in lockdown, Sydneysiders would jump at the chance to attend two Ashes Tests.
“It would be fantastic if Sydney was to host it,” Ms Finn told NCA NewsWire.
“We’ve been through horrendous lockdowns this year.
“It would just make summer in Sydney this year so fantastic after such a difficult winter.”
Ms Finn said Sydney Tests were “just that much more exciting” than those hosted elsewhere, adding that there were drawbacks of taking the Test to Hobart’s Bellerive Oval.
“I don’t think it’s likely to be played in Tasmania, just because the capacity is so small, so it’s really between Sydney and Melbourne,” she said.
“It would be fantastic for everyone living in Sydney.”
WA shattered by Ashes news
Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) chief executive Christina Matthews said Cricket Australia’s decision to relocate the fifth Test from Perth was “very difficult to accept”.
When Premier Mark McGowan ruled out the possibility of granting exemptions from 14-day quarantine earlier this month, it appeared a foregone conclusion the final Ashes Test of the summer would be moved from Optus Stadium.
“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,” Cricket Australia said.
“These complexities also mean that any suggestion of changing the order of the venues would not be feasible.”
In a separate statement, Matthews said she was “extremely disappointed” for West Australian cricket fans that they would not be able to watch Test cricket live this summer.
“We are extremely disappointed for our members, fans, commercial partners and the wider WA cricket community, as well as all our staff and players who have been looking forward to and planning for the first-ever Ashes to be played at Perth Stadium,” she said.
“While this decision is very difficult to accept, the complexity of staging the Test in the face of strict border controls and quarantine requirements has resulted in it not being possible to align the respective priorities of the WA government, Cricket Australia, and WA Cricket.”
Matthews said she was determined Perth would still have the chance to host live cricket this summer.
“This decision will not waiver our efforts to bring live cricket to Perth this summer, as we continue to work closely with Cricket Australia and the WA Government,” she said.
“With world-class facilities and the opportunity for cricket fans to attend matches, we maintain that WA is well-positioned to host elite cricket, including Big Bash League matches.
“We remain focused on delivering an exciting and safe cricket season for everyone.”
Monday’s announcement came after South Australian cricket officials shut down an audacious attempt from the West Australian government to steal the second Ashes Test, which is due to be held at Adelaide Oval.
The WA government raised eyebrows when it proposed swapping the locations of the second and fifth Tests.
“If cricket isn’t able to meet our border rules for the fifth Test in Perth, then they should move the second Test to Perth instead,” Perth Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti told The West Australian.
“It’s a no-brainer. As long as Queensland stays Covid-free, then the teams can fly in ahead of the pink ball day-night Test, which is due to start on December 16.”
But the South Australian Cricket Association issued a stern rebuke to that idea on Monday.
“The second Vodafone Ashes Test will proceed at Adelaide Oval in 10 days’ time. There has been no suggestion that a schedule change for the Adelaide Test will be considered,” SACA acting chief executive Jodie Newton, said.
“The Adelaide day-night Test is the biggest annual event in South Australia, and no tour is bigger than the Ashes. South Australians are looking forward to Alex Carey making his Test debut this week and Travis Head returning to the national side as we celebrate SACA’s 150th year.
“Adelaide Oval is a global icon and historic ground with a proud reputation of delivering incredible Test matches.”