Perth axed as host of fifth Ashes Test over quarantine rules
Perth was axed Monday as host of the potentially pivotal fifth Ashes Test between Australia and England, because of tough Covid rules which require players to spend 14 days in quarantine.
A decision on the new venue for the Test, scheduled to start on January 14, is yet to be made with Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney all keen to host.
It means that Perth will go without a Test for the second year running after also missing out last season due to Covid, which robbed it of a proposed historic first Test between Australia and Afghanistan.
"We are very disappointed that we are unable to stage the fifth men's Ashes Test at Perth Stadium," said Cricket Australia chief Nick Hockley, ahead of the start of the Ashes in Brisbane on Wednesday.
"We did everything we could in partnership with the WA (Western Australia state) government and WA Cricket to make it work under the current border and health arrangements, but unfortunately this was not possible."
There had been suggestions that some of Western Australia's tough Covid restrictions would be relaxed for the cricketers, but the emergence of the new Omicron variant complicated matters.
Last week, state Premier Mark McGowan said WA's hardline rules would remain, meaning players travelling from the fourth Test in Sydney would have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.
The decision to dump Perth came after an audacious last-minute bid by the city to swap its Test match with Adelaide's, which a state senior government official called a "no-brainer".
Adelaide is due to host the second Test from December 16 after the opener in Brisbane this week.
- 'Extremely disappointed' -
Travellers from Brisbane do not need to quarantine when arriving in Perth and the state's Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti earlier Monday said it made sense to change the order of venues.
"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. It's a no-brainer," he said.
The South Australian Cricket Association swiftly issued a stern rebuke.
The Western Australian Cricket Association said missing out on a Test again was hard to accept.
"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," it said.
"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."
Perth is also scheduled to host a one-day international against New Zealand in late January, along with domestic Twenty20 Big Bash League games.
The first four Ashes Tests are currently scheduled to be played in Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.