MCG more than keen to host fifth Ashes Test because of potential windfall

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Melbourne, Dec 1 (IANS) In the wake of Perth emerging as a potentially unviable option to host the fifth and final Ashes Test from January 14 due to extremeCovid-19 restrictions, Victoria’s Sports Minister Martin Pakula has said that the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) would gladly host a second Test as well if Cricket Australia (CA) decides to make up its mind.

The MCG will host the Boxing Day Test (third Test) from December 26, but is now also keen on hosting the final Test because of the potential monetary windfall that will come with hosting cricket’s greatest rivalry.

In a move that has virtually shut the doors for Perth to host the 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 at the 60,000-capacity Optus Stadium.

“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 was quoted as saying by theage.com.au on Wednesday.

“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 get to Perth and it’s a commercial decision then 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,” added Pakula.

As far as the revenue generation goes, the MCG Test far outshines any other venue in the country, with the expected windfall from the second Test expected in the range of Aus $20-22 million. Only the Australian Football League (AFL) grand finale fares better than the Ashes revenue generation at Aus $30 million.

The other options Cricket Australia (CA) has are hosting the Test at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. 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.

Also, Canberra and the Sydney Cricket Ground are the other options.

–IANS

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