Perth’s hopes of hosting the fifth Ashes Test have taken another big hit after WA premier Mark McGowan reiterated his hardline stance on quarantine rules and banned players’ families for the trip west.
The 60,000-seat Optus Stadium is slated to host the Ashes finale from 14 January. Earlier this month, McGowan said he was “very confident” the Test match would go ahead, despite it coming just five days after the conclusion of the SCG Test.
At that stage, it was believed McGowan was considering relaxing the Covid-19 quarantine rules that players would have to adhere to given the Test match would be played just weeks before WA was due to throw open its borders.
But in a dramatic turn over the past week, the emergence of the new Omicron variant has complicated matters.
On Saturday, WA Cricket chief executive Christina Matthews said the prospect of Perth hosting the fifth Test had gone from 97% to 50%. Matthews said one of the major stumbling blocks was the sheer size of the broadcast team and the subsequent quarantine complications that would bring.
Any chance of players being able to complete a shortened quarantine period instead of the regular 14-day stint was rejected by McGowan on Tuesday.
The same hardline rules will also apply to any staff members or broadcast workers going across. That means all members who fly to Perth will be under strict quarantine conditions throughout the entirety of the Test match – a situation that may not be feasible.
“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.”
The MCG is the frontrunner to host the fifth Test – possibly under lights – if Perth is stripped. But the SCG is ready and willing to host the Test if required.
“We’ve said to Cricket Australia that we’re here to help if they need it,” NSW minister for tourism Stuart Ayres said.
“I would love to see Perth host a Test match. That community over there has had to live behind a very closed border for a long time. So they deserve to have some fantastic sporting content.
“But if the West Australian government doesn’t want that to happen, then NSW is ready to help Cricket Australia.”