Bombshell $17 million twist in fifth Ashes Test saga

·4-min read
Seen here, Aussie Test captain and vice-captain Pat Cummins and Steve Smith.
Pat Cummins and Steve Smith will lead Australia's Test side for the Ashes series as captain and vice-captain respectively. Pic: Getty

Hobart's hopes of snatching the fifth Ashes Test off Perth appear to be fading, with a huge expected shortfall in revenue creating a headache for Cricket Australia (CA).

The Victorian government has joined its NSW counterpart in reaching out to CA as an option for the fifth Ashes Test if it's stripped from Perth.

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That outcome is looking increasingly likely following comments from West Australian Premier Mark McGowan, who this week cast doubt over his state's willingness to risk hosting the Test amid the threat of the Omicron stand of Covid-19.

Perth's hopes of hosting the fifth Ashes Test took another big hit after the WA Premier reiterated his hardline stance on quarantine rules and banned players' wives and girlfriends for the trip west.

The 60,000-seat Optus Stadium is slated to host the Ashes finale from January 14, in a prospect WA Cricket chief executive Christina Matthews admitted had dropped from a 97 per cent chance to just 50 per cent.

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 were rejected by McGowan on Tuesday.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has cast doubt on Perth's chances of hosting the fifth Ashes Test. Pic: Getty
WA Premier Mark McGowan has cast doubt on Perth's chances of hosting the fifth Ashes Test. Pic: Getty

The same hardline rules will also apply to any staff members or broadcast workers coming 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."

Mr McGowan's comments have put the MCG in the box seat to host the fifth Test, with a huge difference in expected revenue giving it the advantage over Hobart.

According to The Age, there is an estimated $17 million gap between the revenue that a Test at the MCG would generate ($22 million), compared to Hobart ($5 million).

Complicating Hobart's bid even further is Cricket Tasmania's scathing assessment of CA's role in the Tim Paine saga, which is likely to have strained relationships between the two governing bodies.

Victorian Sports Minister Martin Pakula said on Wednesday that the MCG's "claims were undeniable" as an alternative venue.

MCG in box seat to snatch fifth Test

The MCG appears to be the frontrunner to host the fifth Test - possibly under lights - which would mean a sporting bonanza for Melbourne, with the Australian Open starting January 17.

"The Victorian government has certainly made it clear to Cricket Australia that if the Perth Test is unable to go ahead that we'd be not just prepared to host the fifth Test but very keen to host the fifth Test," Pakula said.

"I've spoken to Cricket Australia and they've got a decision to make, firstly about whether they go with Perth ... and if they can't got to Perth and it's a commercial decision than I think the MCG's claims are pretty close to undeniable.

"We will wait and see but Cricket Australia is well aware of our interest."

Earlier this month, McGowan said he was "very confident" the Test match would go ahead but in a dramatic turn over the past week, the emergence of the new Omicron variant has complicated matters.

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 coming 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.

The SCG is also an option for back-to-back Tests, with the NSW government confirming on Tuesday it was willing and able.

with AAP

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