Western Australia's brazen proposal to swap the second Ashes Test with Adelaide has been laughed off by Aussie cricket fans.
Perth is scheduled to host the fifth and final Test of the series on January 14, but WA's strict Covid-19 protocols are making that look increasingly unlikely.
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WA Premier Mark McGowan last week cast further doubt over his state's willingness to risk hosting the Test amid the threat of the Omicron strand of Covid-19.
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 also rejected by McGowan.
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 situation has seen both NSW and Victoria throw their hats in the ring to host another Test in the series, with a pink-ball, day-night spectacle at the MCG gathering steam.
Perth will be desperate to avoid missing out on hosting a Test for the second straight year, with the state's politicians proposing a swap with Adelaide, and highlighting the recent Covid-19 cases in South Australia as evidence of its credibility.
“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,” Perth Sport and Recreation Minister Tony Buti told The West Australian.
“It’s a no-brainer. As long as Queensland stays Covid-free then the teams can fly in ahead of the pink ball day-night Test, which is due to start on December 16.
“The simple solution would be to bring that Test here while South Australia manages its Covid outbreak. Adelaide can then host the fifth Test originally scheduled for Perth.
“They (the teams) could fly straight into Perth after the Brisbane Test. Then no one will need to worry about quarantine and Covid protocols.”
South Australia brushes off swap idea
On Monday, WA's proposal was promptly shut down by the South Australian Cricket Association.
"The Second Ashes Test will proceed at Adelaide Oval in ten days' time," acting chief executive Jodie Newton said.
"There has been no suggestion that a schedule change for the Adelaide Test will be considered."
"The Adelaide day-night Test is the biggest annual event in South Australia, and no tour is bigger than the Ashes."
WA's idea was also roundly criticised by cricket fans on social media, with broadcast journalist Michael Smyth tweeting: “First we’ll lock you out, then try to nick your Test … Get stuffed WA.”
Yeah we can't host a Test match in mid-January but we'll try steal the one locked into Adelaide Oval for mid-December and complain when we inevitably don't get it. Galaxy brain stuff from the WA government #Ashes
— Dan-yule Brettig 🎄 (@danbrettig) December 5, 2021
The McGowan government now wants Cricket Australia to swap the Perth and Adelaide tests so that WA doesn't lose its test match this summer 🤨
Imagine having the audacity to lock everyone out then expecting them to rearrange plans to suit you.#Ashes
— Mike Pearsall (@MikePearsall93) December 5, 2021
Too late for a swap. People attending from out of town have already booked flights/hotels/taken leave and made plans for the Adelaide test. No way Perth test should be "swapped". A move to Melb/Syd/Hobart should be the only options being talked about.
— UngroundedGlobetrotter 🌏✈️ (@LachlanB_) December 5, 2021
— Michael Smyth (@MichaelSmyth_) December 5, 2021
It's expected Cricket Australia will announce the fifth Test cannot be played in Perth, before taking several days to decide on the new host venue.
Hobart remains a slight favourite ahead of Melbourne, with Cricket Tasmania chief executive Dominic Baker adamant the Tim Paine saga shouldn't have an impact on any decision.
Both the NSW government and Cricket ACT have also stated their desire to host the match at the SCG and Manuka Oval respectively if the Perth Test falls over.
Australia locks in first Ashes Test XI
On Sunday, Australia captain Pat Cummins revealed the make-up of the starting XI for the first Ashes Test, with Travis Head pipping Usman Khawaja for the No.5 spot in the batting lineup.
The early call on Head and confirmation left-arm quick Mitchell Starc will also feature, has the hosts settled on a line-up well ahead of Wednesday's toss, with England captain Joe Root admitting on Sunday he's still weighing up up his options.
Cummins opened the bowling at times last summer but said he was leaning towards allowing Starc - who kept his place ahead of an in-form Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser - and Josh Hazelwood to set the tone in Brisbane.
Shane Warne has led the noise around Starc's hold on a spot in the Test side, the left-arm quick firing back with a rapid spell in Saturday's training session.
"Starcy's great .. we knew we had three weeks building up and he's been building up nicely, he was fast (in training on Saturday), swinging the ball big," Cummins said.
"We weren't surprised but it was great to see and with some of the best batsmen in the world (Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne), looked like he was a handful, so good signs."
Head had lost his place in the side to Matthew Wade but he was recalled for the tour of South Africa that was subsequently called off.
He made just 183 runs in 11 County Championship innings for Sussex this year while a century in his last innings - ironically after Queensland captain Khawaja had asked him to follow on - improved Head's Sheffield Shield record to 394 runs at an average of 49.25 this campaign.
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