'Don't like him': Aussie cricketer's swipe at West Australian Premier

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
WA premier Mark McGowan has been criticised by Sydney Sixers bowler Steve O'Keefe over the state's reluctance to open their borders. Pictures: Getty Images
WA premier Mark McGowan has been criticised by Sydney Sixers bowler Steve O'Keefe over the state's reluctance to open their borders. Pictures: Getty Images

Western Australian premier Mark McGowan has copped a stray shot from cricketer Steve O'Keefe over the state's continued insistence on keeping their borders closed.

The BBL is locked in negotiations with the WA government to allow matches to go ahead in Perth this season - but Sydney Sixers spinner O'Keefe won't be perturbed if there's no trip to WA.

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CA is hopeful of a breakthrough soon, ideally in the form of exemptions that could allow teams to travel to and play in Perth on a fly-in fly-out basis.

However, even if CA and the WA government are able to come to an agreement, it risks being an unpopular one if it involves players once again being subject to strict biosecurity measures.

Many players, including O'Keefe, feel that it is time there should be more interstate freedom of movement for vaccinated visitors.

Speaking on Thursday, the BBL veteran quipped that he hated the flight to Perth regardless and that the city had never been a happy hunting ground for the Sixers.

"I do not want to go to Perth. I don't like Mark McGowan. I hate playing at Optus, we never do well," O'Keefe stirred.

"I hate that plane flight.

"Maybe we just give Perth the two points, stay at home and enjoy a week at home.

"He doesn't want us there."

O'Keefe was quick to acknowledge cricketers had been fortunate to be able to travel at all over the last 18 months, but added most players wouldn't miss the rigamarole of bubble life.

He said it had often felt uncomfortable having so many resources dedicated to their movements.

"They did really well Perth last year in allowing us in," he said.

"But you know, you've got a police escort all the way off the plane to the hotel then you had to stay on the same floor of the hotel.

"I'll leave that up to the Big Bash people but hey, how about if Perth wants to come, they can come to Sydney?

"We'll happily have anyone from Perth. I'm not sure Mark McGowan thinks the same."

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The Sixers are slated to face the Scorchers at Optus Stadium on January 6 in a rematch of the 2020-21 final.

Tickets will soon be on sale for the majority of BBL games, including the SCG season-opener between the Sixers and Melbourne Stars on December 5, but CA is yet to do the same for Optus Stadium fixtures.

The governing body said this week it remains "committed to taking a full quota of Scorchers home games to Perth if permitted".

O'Keefe noted last year's BBL bubble proved an enjoyable "slumber party" for three days.

"By the end of it ... even blinking was starting to annoy people," he laughed.

"A lot more balance going into the season.

"Being at home over Christmas ... that's a big tick for a lot of guys with young families."

The Sydney Sixers will kick off their BBL title defence next season against the Melbourne Stars, who the defeated in last year's grand final. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
The Sydney Sixers will kick off their BBL title defence next season against the Melbourne Stars, who the defeated in last year's grand final. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, WA Cricket officials are increasingly bullish over the chances of Perth remaining as host of the fifth Ashes Test.

A day after Tasmania made a pitch to steal the match off Optus Stadium, WA Cricket chief executive Christina Matthews claimed Premier Peter Gutwein was "wasting his ink".

Instead, the WA boss remains insistent the drop in case numbers in NSW is helping her organisation's chances of Cricket Australia and the Western Australian government reaching an agreement to cross the closed border.

It came as a report in the West Australian newspaper claimed that players could have their quarantine in the state lowered from two weeks to five days.

As things stand there is only a four-day gap between the SCG and Perth matches, meaning the Test would need to be pushed back one day to January 15 unless it starts under quarantine protocols.

Any agreement on conditions would also need the sign-off from both Australia and England's playing group.

With AAP

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