Cricket Australia’s (CA) Chief Executive Officer Nick Hockley on Monday said that despite the pandemic restrictions in his country, he would “want to play the schedule as planned” and hinted that the fifth and final Test of the upcoming Ashes series will be held at Perth from January 14 as it has been scheduled.
Earlier, several media reports from Australia had claimed that the fifth Test could be shifted to Sydney from Perth as Western Australia still countinues to grapple under the Covid-19 pandemic and their vaccine programme lags behind other states.
Due to such scenario, stringent quarantine rules have been put in place for tourists.
“We want to play the schedule as planned,” Hockley told SEN’s Whateley on Monday.
“It was exactly the same last season (Covid circumstances) for the India series and we were thankfully able to do that (play at Perth stadium),” he added.
Hockley said that CA was discussing the issue with the Western Australian government and hoped that they would ease the restrictions for the touring England side.
“It will be the first Ashes Test at the new stadium, so we would absolutely love to play the fifth Test at Perth … we’ve got great relationships from last year when we played five BBL (Big Bash League) matches at Perth Stadium via a bubble or quarantine arrangements,” Hockley said.
“We are in very active dialogue now with the Western Australian government. It’s still three months away … we will be doing absolutely everything we possibly can to make sure we play the schedule as planned but particularly in getting across to Perth for that fifth test which I think will be an incredible event,” he added.
In September, Sports Minister Richard Colbeck had hinted that Perth might not be able to host an Ashes test due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Colbeck felt that as Western Australia (WA) has strict quarantine rules, the players would not want to serve quarantine for 14 days.
“We’ve had to do a lot of work to organise quarantine arrangements for cricketers coming into Australia,” Colbeck was quoted as saying by Perth radio station 6PR.
“There’s serious questions about whether there’ll be a test match in Perth this summer. If there’s no chance of coming here without prolonged quarantine, it just won’t occur,” he had added.
On October 9 (Saturday), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) ended speculations regarding the uncertainty of the upcoming Ashes series as it gave ‘conditional’ approval to the five-match series.
Recently, several England cricketers had expressed their disappointment over the stringent quarantine rules in Australia and also over the uncertainty whether they would be allowed with thier families or not during the 11-week-long tour.
Issuing a statement on Saturday, the ECB had said: “Over recent weeks we have made excellent progress in moving forward on the England Men’s Ashes Tour. To facilitate further progress and allow a squad to be selected, the ECB Board has met today (October 9) and given its approval for the tour to go ahead. This decision is subject to several critical conditions being met before we travel.”
“We look forward to the ongoing assistance from Cricket Australia in resolving these matters in the coming days,” it added.
The series is scheduled to start from December 8 and will end on January 18.