Ashes series finale in Perth after 27 years
The spine-tingling, jaw-dropping moments of the last Ashes series in England could be rehashed in Perth after Optus Stadium was given hosting rights for the fifth and final test of the return bout down under this summer.
Cricket Australia unveiled a crowded 2021-2022 international schedule on Wednesday, with Perth set to host its first-ever Ashes Test at the new stadium.
The 60,000-seat venue has hosted just two Test matches, against India in December 2018 and a day-night fixture with New Zealand in December 2019, both victories to Australia, and controversially missed a Test fixture last year as COVID-19 cut the schedule short.
Australia retained the urn despite the previous Ashes contest finishing level, with Ben Stokes’ unbelievable heroics during the Third Test at Headingley in August 2019 the difference between a series win and draw.
Australia would host Afghanistan in an inaugural Test at Bellerive Oval on November 27 before the Ashes gets under way at the Gabba on December 8, the five-match series to finish with the Perth Test on January 14-18.
Optus Stadium was given just one other international fixture for the summer, the first ODI against New Zealand on January 30, with no T20s scheduled for Western Australia.
England has historically struggled in WA, having won only one Test (1978-79) at the WACA Ground since 1970, and Optus Stadium has quickly become another fortress for opposition Test teams, with Australia unbeaten in fixtures against India (146-run win) and NZ (296-run victory).
WACA CEO Christina Matthews said hosting a fifth Test at Perth Stadium was a new experience for cricket fans and anticipated an exciting battle.
“New Zealand is always a great match-up with the Aussie team, and with both Test and ODI formats throughout January, Perth will get to experience lots of cricket over the summer,” she said.
The summer’s day-night, pink-ball Test would be at Adelaide Oval from December 16-20, while the traditional Boxing Day and New Years Tests were set for the MCG (December 26-30) and SCG (January 5-9) before the final Test in Perth.
Following the Ashes, New Zealand and Sri Lanka would play a combined three ODIs and six T20s against Australia, with the Kiwis replacing South Africa in the international program due to COVID-19.
The women’s international summer would start with a series against India, with venues and dates to be finalised.