The Victorian government has joined New South Wales in reaching out to Cricket Australia as an option for the fifth Ashes Test if it is stripped from Perth.
Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said on Wednesday that the MCG’s “claims were undeniable” as an alternative venue.
The 60,000-seat Optus Stadium is slated to host the Ashes finale from 14 January but a hardline stance on quarantine rules by Western Australia premier Mark McGowan has put it in major doubt.
The MCG is the frontrunner to host the fifth Test – possibly under lights – which would mean a sporting bonanza for Melbourne, with the Australian Open starting 17 January.
The SCG is also an option for back-to-back Tests, with the NSW government confirming on Tuesday it was willing and able. Pakula said his state had also put up its hand.
“The Victorian government has certainly made it clear to Cricket Australia that if the Perth Test is unable to go ahead that we’d be not just prepared to host the fifth Test but very keen to host the fifth Test,” Pakula said.
“I’ve spoken to Cricket Australia and they’ve got a decision to make, firstly about whether they go with Perth … and if they can’t got to Perth and it’s a commercial decision than I think the MCG’s claims are pretty close to undeniable.
“We will wait and see but Cricket Australia is well aware of our interest.”
Earlier this month, McGowan said he was “very confident” the Test match would go ahead but in a dramatic turn over the past week, the emergence of the new Omicron variant has complicated matters.
Any chance of players being able to complete a shortened quarantine period instead of the regular 14-day stint was rejected by McGowan on Tuesday. The same hardline rules will also apply to any staff members or broadcast workers coming across.
That means all members who fly to Perth will be under strict quarantine conditions throughout the entirety of the Test match – a situation that may not be feasible.