Strict guidelines virtually rule Perth out for fifth Ashes Test

Perth, Nov 30 (IANS): In a move that could virtually shut the doors for Perth to host the fifth and final Ashes Test, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has said that tough border restrictions would remain in place due to the emergence of the new Covid-19 variant, and that the players will have to quarantine for 14 days to be able to play the match.

He has also banned wives and girlfriends of the cricketers from attending the fifth Test. The Test is slated to be played from January 14 at the 60,000-capacity Optus Stadium.

"While the WA Premier previously said he was confident the finale would proceed with 'very strong measures' the emergence of the Omicron variant has thrown the state's reopening plans into disarray. On Tuesday, Mr McGowan revealed cricketers will be required to quarantine for 14 days with wives and girlfriends to be banned from the highly-anticipated trip west," said.

There will be no relaxation for staff members and the broadcast team either as they too will be required to self-isolate for two weeks and subsequently the entirety of the match.

"We have put in place very strict rules. 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 (Australian Football League). It's up to them whether they want to adhere to those rules or not," McGowan said.

WA Cricket chief executive Christina Matthews had recently said that the prospects of Perth hosting the fifth Test were 50-50.

McGowan has refused to open Western Australia's borders to other states as he aim for a 90 per cent vaccination target.

In the event of logistical issues emerging from the stringent guidelines, Cricket Australia (CA) might put the Bellerive Oval in Hobart on standby. The venue will host the Big Bash League (BBL) and Women's National Cricket League matches in December-January and will only need to shuffle some of those fixtures to accommodate the Test.

The other option CA has is Canberra. CA could also decide to host the fourth and fifth Tests at the Sydney Cricket Ground.



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