Western Australian 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. However, 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 his strict quarantine stance wasn’t going anywhere.
Mark McGowan had previously claimed he was confident the final Test would go ahead at Optus Stadium. Still, with his latest declaration, the chances of hosting the monumental occasion in Perth’s backyard are dwindling. However, Premier Mark McGowan says Western Australia’s plan to reopen in early 2022 remains on track, despite growing concerns over the emergence of the new Omicron strain of coronavirus.
Mark McGowan Reiterated That All Players And Support Staff Would Have To Complete A 14 Day Quarantine Period
With the new Omicron variant threatening to throw a spanner in the works, Mark 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,” Mark 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, ” said Mark McGowan.
Given that the fifth Test is slated to start on the 14th of January, just five days after the Sydney New Year’s Test concludes, Perth appears highly unlikely to retain hosting rights – especially if broadcast staff must be under strict quarantine rules for the duration of the match.
Mark 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 said.
“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, Christina 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 are 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”.
Shane Warne: Melbourne Can Host A Day Night Ashes Test After Boxing Day Test
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.