The fifth Ashes Test will not be played in Perth, Cricket Australia has confirmed, and will be relocated due to the strict Covid-19 border policies imposed in Western Australia.
CA said on Monday that extensive talks with the WA government and WA Cricket had failed to ensure the series finale against England could be played as planned at Optus Stadium.
The match scheduled to start on 14 January will now be shifted elsewhere, with Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra all in contention to step in as hosts.
“While absolutely every effort was made to ensure the final Test match of the series could be staged in Perth, border controls, quarantine requirements and the complexities of staging a five-Test series in a tight schedule have meant it is unfortunately not possible to align the respective priorities of the WA government, CA and WA Cricket,” CA said in a statement.
“These complexities also mean that any suggestion of changing the order of the venues would not be feasible.”
Discussions about a replacement venue for the fifth Test match are underway, with Hobart a slight favourite ahead of Melbourne.
Both the NSW government and Cricket ACT have also stated their desire to host the match, at the SCG and Manuka Oval respectively, if required.
Meanwhile, Queensland sports minister Stirling Hinchliffe on Monday threw the Gabba forward as an option to hold a second Test this summer.
Perth’s predicament prompted a last-ditch play from WA’s sports minister Tony Buti for the second Test to be taken to the state, pushing for a swap with Adelaide. Buti’s plan had centred around both teams heading to Perth from Brisbane without quarantine requirements, given the two states remain open to each other.
Buti said Adelaide could host the series finale next month, allowing time for their limits on crowds to ease as part of the state’s own current Covid-19 outbreak. That suggestion was promptly shut down by the South Australian Cricket Association on Monday morning.
It leaves WA without international red-ball cricket for another summer. The state is slated to host one other international this summer – an ODI involving New Zealand on 30 January – but that series-opener would also likely be subject to biosecurity arrangements.
It comes after the Waca Ground was due to host the women’s Test between India and Australia in October before it was moved to Queensland. A one-off Test between Afghanistan and Australia was postponed last year due to Covid.