Cricket Australia still striving for Perth stadium Ashes

09May 2017
Joseph Mchekadona
The Guardian
Cricket Australia still striving for Perth stadium Ashes

AN Ashes debut for Perth's new stadium remains in Cricket Australia's sights, with the chief executive James Sutherland to head west this week for meetings aimed at getting the 60,000 capacity Burswood development up and running in time for the third match of next summer's five-Test series.

Cricket Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, James Sutherland

On the day tickets went on sale to the general public for all venues but Perth, Sutherland said he was in continuing talks with stadium management - helmed by former CA executive Mike McKenna - the West Australian government and the builders to see if the precinct can be ready in time for the Ashes.

This is despite reports out of Perth last month indicating the state government had all but ruled out the possibility of the Test being played in the new stadium, which features drop-in pitches. A January ODI between Australia and England appears the more likely time for the unveiling.

"Either way we're very optimistic that we'll be playing cricket at the new stadium in 2017-18, but we're hopeful it will be a Test match because I think people will come from everywhere to be a part of the event," Sutherland said.

"We know there's latent demand in the UK just waiting for an announcement and they're ready to go, because Perth's just that little bit closer to the UK and I know it's a place that English travelers love to get to.

"We're looking towards the end of this month to make a decision. We want to get tickets on sale as soon as possible, give everyone plenty of notice of what needs to get in order, but certainly we'll continue to have conversations, I'm in Perth this week to have some conversations with relevant people and we'll hopefully, by the end of this month, be able to make announcements about when tickets go on sale."

The stadium's management - which also includes CA's former head of events Chris Loftus-Hills - has remained steadfast that the venue is intended only to be ready in time for next year's AFL season.

Australia have hosted Ashes Tests at incomplete stadiums before, most recently during the Adelaide Oval redevelopment, when the majority of the ground was available for play.
"From what I understand the stadium will be fully complete and ready to go [when it hosts its first match]," Sutherland said. "It's very much about the logistics and planning.

The completion dates for the stadium actually work pretty well for us, but at the same time a Test match in Perth at the new stadium would be a huge event, and there's little room for things to go wrong in terms of teething problems that are in some ways perhaps inevitable.

"We're really optimistic about the way in which the event could be staged in the new stadium, we've got great confidence in that, but we also understand that through government, through the stadium manager and also the builders, there are a lot of logistics we're not necessarily across that need to be worked through.

"We'd love to see the Test match be the opening event for the new stadium, but to some extent that's out of our control. We'll just put our best foot forward and try to impress that upon the powers that be in Perth."

CA recently named Antonia Beggs as the governing body's new head of match operations and events, after she had previously served at the head of client relations for the European PGA tour and as Championship director of the Ryder Cup. After relocating from Britain, Beggs is expected to start in her new role in mid-July.

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