Adelaide set for mid-January day Test after stadium stoush
Adelaide Oval’s Test is set to be played as a day match in mid-January against the West Indies next season, as part of a series of compromises stemming from South Australia’s audacious bid to pinch the New Year’s Test from Sydney.
Senior cricket sources with knowledge of discussions have told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that the Test summer is now likely to commence with Australia facing Pakistan in Perth in mid-December, before the traditional holiday Tests in Melbourne and Sydney.
Adelaide’s Test will then be played against the West Indies in the middle of January, before the final match of the summer at the Gabba around the January 26 long weekend.
That is a change from initial plans drawn up by Cricket Australia, which were firm enough for some broadcasters to have already booked rooms at the Adelaide Oval Hotel for the January 26 slot, only to change them more recently to the week before.
The SA government and cricket association had presented three scenarios to Cricket Australia for an eight-year deal on Adelaide Tests.
One was for eight years of New Year’s Tests, another for eight years of “Christmas” Tests played in mid-December, and the last was for a mid-January match next summer followed by seven years of mid-December fixtures.
The third scenario, which came with the smallest amount of money attached out of a $40 million state government war chest for major events, is likely to be accepted as part of CA’s desire to balance reward for Adelaide Oval’s consistently high crowds and revenues with the need to build consistent crowds for Test matches nationally.
In financial terms, CA is set to leave significant money on the table at a time of robust talks with the states and the Australian Cricketers’ Association about the amount of cash in the game following the singing of a seven-year, $1.5 billion broadcast deal with Foxtel and Seven in January.
Similarly, agreement is imminent to provide for a mix of day and day/night Tests in Adelaide across the next eight years. While CA and broadcasters love the prime-time audiences generated by the fixture, SACA has argued that its members much prefer the chance to watch day matches, the better to enjoy social evenings after 6pm stumps.
SACA president Will Rayner said SACA had put its argument to CA in no uncertain terms. “We believe SACA’s got a compelling case in front of Cricket Australia that shows that our premium product deserves premium scheduling,” he said. “We really look forward to working with them to ensure that continues for our members.”
Perth Stadium has hosted massive BBL crowds.Credit:Getty Images
CA held firm on the desire to award a more favourable fixture to Perth next season, after the city missed two years of Test cricket due to COVID-19 and related border restrictions, and saw paltry crowds attend the opening Test, also against the West Indies, last year.
Cricket Australia’s board is expected to discuss the men’s Test match venues at a regular meeting next week. “We are still working on the schedule and nothing has been confirmed,” a CA spokesperson said.
However, the longer-term expectation is that Brisbane and Perth will be used as “bookend” venues to top and tail the annual Test match program, while Adelaide is consistently placed in mid-December as has been the case for much of the past decade.
WA Cricket’s chair, Avril Fahey, had told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that the state’s preference was not to host the West Indies again next summer.
“Pakistan’s coming with the West Indies again, so I’m pretty hopeful we don’t get the West Indies,” Fahey said. “But it’s about making sure we have an opportunity to deliver something for the fans in Perth.
“In WA cricket we’ve had some concerns around scheduling and the like, the Wednesday start in November, West Indies, a lot of things there make it really challenging for us to drive attendance. A number of our members have written to me about how disappointed they are with the scheduling we’ve received.”
Potential Test programs
Australia v Pakistan Tests
Perth – mid-December
Melbourne – Boxing Day
Sydney – New Year’s
Australia v West Indies Tests
Adelaide – mid-January
Brisbane – Australia Day weekend
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