The Ashes: Perth’s Optus Stadium Test ‘50-50’ chance of happening, says WA Cricket CEO Christina Matthews

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Will Steve Smith and the Aussies make it to Perth?
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Perth’s chances of hosting January’s fifth Ashes Test have been reduced to a coin-flip prospect, according to WA Cricket chief executive Christina Matthews.

After confidence was increasing in the past few weeks that Optus Stadium would keep the final match of the highly-anticipated series, more doubt has been cast due to the State’s stringent border rules.

Matthews told ABC Grandstand she had at one point been “97 per cent confident”, but the challenge of broadcast logistics - including the number of specialists required to enter WA - have that confidence sliding back down to 50-50 in a worrying sign.

The Test is due to be played from January 14-18.

“We’re slowly working on things behind the scenes. There’s great cooperation between Cricket Australia and the State Government and us as well,” Matthews said.

“It’s fair to say there’s a few hurdles to get across but the beauty is, we don’t have to make a decision tomorrow. We’re trying to imagine what it might be like in mid-January as opposed to what it’s like today.

“But as everybody knows, our Government has very well known and strict protocols around different things and it’s a matter of whether cricket can meet those demands or not.

“I think it’s quite possible that Cricket Australia might have got a bit distracted over the past week but there’s still a lot work being done on getting the Test here.

“I’d probably say at the moment I’m 50-50. I’d gone as high as 97 per cent, but I’ve gone back to 50-50. We’ll wait and see.”

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Matthews said clearing entry into WA for the significant number of broadcast staff was looming as an increasingly difficult hurdle.

“It’s such a complex environment and one of the difficulties for cricket is just the high level of technology needed around the broadcast and number of people needed around the broadcast compared to an AFL broadcast,” she said.

“It’s one thing getting the players in, it’s another thing getting the people that have to broadcast it in, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

WA Premier Mark McGowan will in the coming weeks schedule a date for the State to reopen for interstate travel, which will be based around an estimated time when 90 per cent double vaccination status is reached. But it is unlikely to be before the January 14 Test start date.

Earlier in the month, both Matthews and the WA Premier said they were “very confident” of Perth keeping one of the biggest sporting events held at the Burswood venue.

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