Western Australian police minister Paul Papalia has accused Cricket Australia of being 'completely inflexible' after the state's stringent border entry requirements resulted in the fifth Ashes Test being relocated.
The issue of gaining entry to Perth and the quarantine requirements players would be subject to had been a running debate in the lead-up to the Ashes.
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With many international cricketers having spent much of the last year being forced in and out of various bio-secure 'bubble' environments and completing quarantine numerous times, the prospect of a further fortnight in a hotel was not considered palatable among visiting players.
Australian players and officials weren't thrilled by the prospect of having to quarantine upon arriving in WA< despite everyone being double-vaccinated against Covid-19.
A tender process has been started to determine the new venue for the test, however Papalia was quick to give Cricket Australia a parting shot after the decision to abandon the Perth venue was made public.
He described Cricket Australia as a 'pretty poor organisation' and said the AFL had been more willing to budge in negotiations to host the grand final in Perth earlier this year.
“We’ve always been completely upfront the health and safety of the state and the Western Australian people is the primary driver for government decisions around those matters,” Papalia said.
“Cricket Australia knew all along, they were completely inflexible.
“You expect that they (Cricket Australia) could have adopted a bit more of a flexible approach like the AFL did.
“They responded to the threat as it occurred, the shifting circumstances.
“Cricket Australia could have done that. They were (a) pretty poor organisation in that regard.”
“They were completely inflexible,” the WA Police Minister said of Cricket Australia, apparently without a hint of irony.. https://t.co/kJk8XUHhtd
— Tom Minear (@tminear) December 7, 2021
Sports Minister Tony Buti "very disappointed" by Cricket Australia decision to shift Ashes Test away from Perth but believes majority of WA public back the state government's refusal to compromise on quarantine arrangements. #wanews
— Josh Zimmerman (@joshua_zimm) December 6, 2021
Christina Matthews CEO WA #Cricket doesn't blame the WA Premier: "I've been able to live a pretty free life... if the penalty for that is losing a Test Match we've not got a lot to complain about"
Pretty sanguine, grown-up response to a disappointing loss.#Ashes @cricketcomau
— Chris Mitchell (@chrismbbcsport) December 6, 2021
However the political offensive appears to have backfired, with many residents living outside WA suggesting the government was attempted to 'have their cake and eat it too'.
SEN radio host and prominent sporting commentator Gerard Whateley said the WA government could 'bugger off', having earlier suggested hosting the Adelaide Test in Perth.
“You are absolutely entitled to keep the borders closed and lock us out forevermore if that’s the choice you want to make societally, culturally and politically, and maybe you should just get on with the business of seceding," Whateley said.
“But, to then say, ‘We’ll just take that Test, because we can make that work’, no, if you want a Test there are ways to make that work, but the choice, and I would say rightly, has been made to protect the community on that front.
“But don’t then come and go, ‘Can we just pinch Adelaide’s Test, we can make that work’.
“The words bugger off came to mind.”
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Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed on Monday the showpiece series finale, slated to start January 14, would not take place in Perth because of border restrictions.
Every rival state has since thrown its hat in the ring for what will be a pink-ball Test, ensuring broadcasters aren't denied the prime-time fodder they would otherwise have access to.
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has also put forward a case for Manuka Oval.
CA, weighing up several factors, is expected to land on its replacement venue within a week.
The obvious temptation is to bank the biggest cheque on offer, believed to be the MCG unless Tasmania premier Peter Gutwein or a rival leader tips in millions of dollars to bridge the gap.
Yet the decision will be more complex than just money, coming two months after CA's state-association shareholders forced the resignation of chair Earl Eddings.
The governing body will be desperate to be as collaborative as possible, while also pleasing broadcasters and players, but finding the middle of that Venn diagram will be incredibly tricky.
Logistics will form a major part of the decision, with accommodation for the series' travelling circus to be a key challenge in Melbourne given the Test overlaps with the Australian Open.
Tasmania premier Peter Gutwein urged CA to do the "right thing by the game" and lock in Hobart for its first ever Ashes Test, rather than staging two legs of the series at another ground.
"We are currently finalising our proposal to Cricket Australia, which we will submit within the next 24 hours," Gutwein said.
"We are very confident we can more than meet all of their requirements to host the fifth Test in Hobart.
"Hobart has only been allocated 13 Tests in the 32 years since hosting our first Test.
"CA should not be seduced by the larger states, they should act in the best interests of the country, make history."
Similar sound bites came from around the country on Tuesday.
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