The Western Australian government has launched an audacious bid to snatch the second Ashes Test from Adelaide, with a senior minister describing the plan as a “no-brainer”.
Cricket Australia confirmed on Monday afternoon it would move the fifth Ashes Test from Perth.
It had been scheduled to start on January 14, but WA’s strict COVID border rules have created logistical difficulties.
Under WA’s coronavirus rules, all arrivals from NSW must quarantine for two weeks. That includes the travelling Australia and England cricket players – who had been scheduled to head west after the end of the fourth Test in Sydney.
Cricket Australia is yet to confirm where the final Test will be played.
Hobart is favourite to be the replacement venue, with Melbourne also a possibility. The NSW government and Cricket ACT have also stated their desire to host the match if the Perth Test falls over.
But, ahead of Cricket Australia’s confirmation on Monday, WA came up with its own idea, pushing to shuffle venues so the it could nab the second Test instead. It is due to start in Adelaide on December 16, following the conclusion of the series opener in Brisbane – with thousands of tickets already reportedly sold.
“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,” WA Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti has told The West Australian newspaper.
“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.
“The simple solution would be to bring that Test here while South Australia manages its COVID outbreak. Adelaide can then host the fifth Test originally scheduled for Perth.”
Mr Buti said players could fly to Perth after the Brisbane Test, without any need to quarantine.
“Optus Stadium can be made available to host the second Test that’s currently scheduled for Adelaide Oval between December 16 and 20,” he said.
If Cricket Australia agrees to WA’s request, the fifth Test will become the day-night fixture.
But the bold push has angered fans, including 2GB sports newsreader Mike Pearsall.
“The McGowan government now wants Cricket Australia to swap the Perth and Adelaide tests so that WA doesn’t lose its test match this summer,” he tweeted.
“Imagine having the audacity to lock everyone out then expecting them to rearrange plans to suit you.”
The idea also drew a swift slapdown from South Australia.
“The second Ashes Test will proceed at Adelaide Oval in 10 days’ time,” South Australian Cricket Association acting chief executive Jodie Newton said on Monday.
“There has been no suggestion that a schedule change for the Adelaide Test will be considered.”
“The Adelaide day-night Test is the biggest annual event in South Australia, and no tour is bigger than the Ashes.”
Adelaide Strikers coach Jason Gillespie described the WA push as “cheeky”.
“Cheeky buggers … We are really excited and we are really grateful for Adelaide Oval being able to have this iconic day-night Test here … Absolutely brilliant,” he told the ABC on Monday.
“Tell Perth ‘no’. They are not having our Test.”
Premier Mark McGowan has said he will set a date for reopening WA’s borders only once 80 per cent of people over 12 are fully vaccinated. That is likely to happen this week, with the opening date not expected before late January.
Western Australia is slated to host one other international this summer, a one-day match with New Zealand on January 30. It will also likely be subject to biosecurity arrangements.
The Ashes series begins at the Gabba on Wednesday.