Western Australian cricket chief Christina Matthews says it is “astounding” Perth has been snubbed for hosting one of Australia’s four Tests against India this summer, declaring Optus Stadium is superior to the Gabba in every facet.
Cricket Australia (CA) will on Friday confirm dates for the marquee India tour, with Brisbane locked in to host the first Test on December 3 before a day-night clash in Adelaide and the traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s fixtures in Melbourne and Sydney.
Perth will receive the consolation prize of hosting the one-off inaugural Test against Afghanistan on November 21 at Optus Stadium.
Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) officials are fuming at the decision to overlook the multi-billion dollar stadium for the hotly-anticipated return of Virat Kohli’s men, particularly given WA’s complementary timeslot for Indian audiences.
“All the metrics associated with cricket over the last two years see us surpass Brisbane in every area, whether that’s crowds, broadcast ratings, even better rainfall at that time of year, more corporate seats – just so many indicators – and a brand new stadium,” Matthews told reporters on Thursday.
“When Australian cricket’s primary objective is fans first, it is astounding that the 10,000 members who pay money to support cricket year after year in this state are not afforded the number one Test team to tour this year.
“The last time (in 2014), we were told it was because our venue wasn’t good enough and if we supported a new stadium, this would never happen again. And here we are again.”
The confirmed reinstatement of the Gabba, where Australia has not lost in more than 30 years, comes as little surprise after public lobbying from the likes of Test captain Tim Paine.
Perth was picked ahead of Brisbane when India toured in 2018-19 and was the scene of a 146-run victory for the hosts.
Matthews expects the WACA to bleed members as a result of the decision at a time when CA is already asking the states to make significant cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We obviously hope that our members will continue to support us but we have to factor in that could be a $3 or $4 million hit to us on membership alone,” Matthews said.
“They’re not necessarily looking at the hardcore cricket fans when they’re making those decisions.
“We’ve been told commercially, Brisbane is more viable for Australian cricket and that over an eight-year touring period from 2015 through to 2023 WA has a better schedule than anyone else.
“I’m not really privy to what’s going to happen in the next three years but they were the key reasons.”
An outspoken critic of CA at times, Matthews said WA remained privileged to host Afghanistan and looked forward to welcoming the emerging nation.
Australia’s summer Test schedule
One-off Test v Afghanistan: Optus Stadium, November 21-25 (day-night)
First Test v India: Gabba, December 3-7
Second Test: Adelaide Oval, December 11-15 (D/N)
Third Test: MCG, December 26-30
Fourth Test: SCG, January 3-7