The fifth Ashes Test is now almost certain to be played anywhere other than Perth’s Optus Stadium after West Australian Premier Mark McGowan confirmed he would not budge from his strict quarantine stance.
McGowan had previously claimed he was confident the final Test would go ahead at Optus Stadium, but with his latest declaration, the chances of hosting the monumental occasion in Perth’s backyard are dwindling.
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With the new Omicron variant threatening to throw a spanner in the works, McGowan reiterated that all players would have to complete a 14-day quarantine period as opposed to a mooted shortened spell in quarantine.
“We have put in place very strict rules,” McGowan said.
“So we’ve said to them, ‘You need to have 14 days quarantine’. And that has to apply to all the broadcast staff, the cricket staff.
“They can’t just bring wives and girlfriends with them — same rules as we put in place for the AFL.
“It’s up to them whether they want to adhere to those rules or not.”
McGowans’s comments come just days after Western Australia Cricket Association chief executive Christina Matthews backtracked on her belief that there was a “97 per cent” chance of the fifth Test being played at Optus Stadium, offering up a much lower likelihood.
“I’d probably say at the moment I’m 50-50,” Matthews told ABC Grandstand on Saturday.
“I’d gone as high as 97 per cent, but I’ve gone back to 50-50. We’ll wait and see.”
Despite the first ball of the Ashes to be bowled on December 8, Matthews didn’t feel that her state was in a rush to make any decisions.
“We’re slowly working on things behind the scenes. There’s great co-operation between Cricket Australia and the state government and us as well,” Matthews said.
“It’s fair to say there’s a few hurdles to get across, but the beauty is we don’t have to make a decision tomorrow.
“We’re trying to imagine what it might be like in mid-January as opposed to what it’s like today.
“As everybody knows, our government has very well known and strict protocols around different things and it’s a matter of time whether cricket can meet those demands or not.”
With serious doubts over Perth’s chances to host the fifth Test continuing to rumble, a number of other options have been discussed in the public arena.
Tasmania has thrown its hat into the ring to host the game at Blundstone Arena in Hobart, while NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres revealed “we’ve said to Cricket Australia that we’re here to help if they need it”.
Legendary Australian cricketer Shane Warne even tossed up the possibility of the MCG hosting a day-night Ashes Test for the final game of the series.
Melbourne would still play host to the traditional Boxing Day Test before going to Sydney for the fourth Test and then a return to the MCG for the final clash.
“Now that the 5th #ashes test will not be played in Perth due to the Govt’s stringent quarantine regulations. My suggestion is that the 5th ashes test should be back at the MCG & played as a D/N test,” Warne wrote on Twitter.
“So, traditional Boxing Day then Syd then back to MCG for a D/N match!”
The spin king doubled down on his Twitter post, believing a second Ashes Test in Melbourne would be a nice reward for the people in the city because Warne feels “they’ve probably had it harder than anyone else in Australia”.
“Do you come back to Melbourne and have another Test match to give the Victorian fans something?” Warne said on Monday.
“They’ve probably had it harder than anyone else in Australia, so do you give them a bit extra to smile about for the last Test of the Ashes?
“Or do you give it to somewhere like Canberra or Hobart? There’s plenty of options.
“Obviously, as a Victorian, I’d love to see it in Melbourne at the MCG, especially with what the Victorian people have been through.
“I’d love to see two Test matches in Melbourne … why not (pink ball). We’ve often talked about having a day-night Test match in Melbourne, it’d be outstanding.”