An audacious bid from the South Australian government and the South Australian Cricket Association to move the New Year's Test from Sydney to Adelaide has left cricket great Michael Clarke and state premier Dominic Perrottet fuming. The SCG Test has become notorious for being interrupted by frequent rain delay, with this year's Test against South Africa no exception.
The continuing trend of inclement weather for the Sydney Test led to some calls from fans for consideration to be given to moving the Test in order to give a higher chance of getting an uninterrupted five days of play. However few expected the South Australian state government, lead by premier Peter Malinauskas, to have approached Cricket Australia so soon.
However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, that is exactly what took place in recent weeks. It comes after the South Australian government's successful pitch to the AFL to hold a dedicated round in the state this season, coined the 'Gather Round'.
ABC meteorologist Thomas Saunders suggested over the Test series that as much as 64% of playing time across the last eight SCG Tests has been lost due to rain delays. SACA president Will Rayner told the SMH that it was their belief Adelaide's consistently high attendance figures warranted more high-profile scheduling.
“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.”
However, Clarke wasn't exactly on board with the proposal. Discussing the story on Big Sports Breakfast, Clarke argued moving the Test would have a significant impact on Australian Test cricket.
“Can’t take Boxing Day from the MCG and you can’t take New Year’s away from the SCG, (an) absolute no-brainer. The day that stops is the day Test cricket is finished in this country," he said.
“Their (Adelaide) Test match is perfect, when they’ve got it, under lights, it’s perfect, it’s working so well. Why would they want to change that?”
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet fires up over bold South Australia ploy
He wasn't the only major critic, with Perrottet also not convinced by the plan. The story came up during a meeting of national cabinet on Friday, with the NSW premier offering a cruel taunt to his South Australian counterpart.
“A five-day washed out Test in Sydney is much better than a five-day Test in Adelaide because at the end of it you’ve spent five days in Adelaide,” Perrottet quipped. However Malinauskas was quick to shoot back.
“We’ve got a pretty good track record of hosting major events in South Australia and it’s something that we’re pretty keen on," he said. “Obviously we were rapt the AFL chose to have the Gather Round in South Australia over NSW.
“They looked at the evidence and the facts and they decided accordingly. And we hope Cricket Australia might one day do the same.”
Malinauskas has consistently talked up the sporting credentials his state capital, which also hosts the Adelaide 500 for the Supercars motorsport category. The premier of the traditionally Aussie rules-mad state also took a pot-shot at the NRL when the aforementioned deal with the AFL was secured.
“We get more people to the cricket here for a Test match at Adelaide Oval with our population in comparison to Sydney with their hordes, and footy is no different,” Malinauskas said.
“Turn on the NRL most weekends and it looks like a SANFL game, so we are going to get far bigger crowds here and that is something we’re proud of. We welcome the competition, but obviously the best team won.”
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