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WAGs set to join Test party in Perth
The West Australian

Perth pubs are bracing for an Ashes onslaught, rostering on extra staff and stocking up on beer and cider in anticipation of thousands of English cricket fans prepared to celebrate or drown their sorrows when the third Test match begins next week.

At the same time, the wives and girlfriends of England's cricketers will be flying in to join the tour in Perth, offering a welcome distraction for those more interested in the action off the pitch than on it.

Chantal Bell, the wife of batsman Ian Bell, and Alice Hunt, married to England captain Alastair Cook, are among those expected in Perth. Model and former Liberty X singer Jessica Taylor, who is married to England's Kevin Pietersen, will miss out because of work commitments but is due to join the tour in Melbourne.

It appears the women have not been put off making the trip by a controversial Eastern States front-page newspaper headline - widely reported in Britain - declaring, "Poms can't bat, can't bowl . . . and even our WAGs are hotter".

The paper compared the English team's spouses with their Australian counterparts, including Michael Clarke's wife Kyly Clarke, David Warner's partner Candice Falzon and Shane Watson's wife Lee Furlong.

The Lucky Shag bar manager Andy Baudry is not particularly fussed about the prospect of an influx of English WAGs - he doubts he would recognise them if they popped in for a pint.

But he is expecting a big crowd next week, given his pub is once again the official drinking hole of the highly organised and vocal band of English cricket fans known as the Barmy Army.

"They're in here every single night straight after the cricket," he said.

"They basically sing and drink all night."

link to ashes coverage

Mr Baudry, an English expatriate and cricket fan, said he had organised extra bar staff, extra alcohol deliveries and extra security, although he was not expecting any trouble with the crowd.

"The way we do it it's just very relaxed and a huge party atmosphere," he said. It is not just the Barrack Street Jetty pub that is expected to benefit.

Hotel occupancy rates have tightened across the CBD.

Fenians Pub manager Jim Wincomb said the Adelaide Terrace Irish pub had put on extra staff expecting "a very busy time".

He said because of the cost of travelling from England, many supporters tended to be 25 years and older, with money to spend.

"They're a good crowd," he said. Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA corporate communications manager Tim Bray said events such as the cricket added to the liveliness of the city and brought benefits for the local economy.

English fan Michael Prideaux not only made the trip from Britain to Perth for the Test but found time to sign up for this weekend's Busselton iron man competition.

"It's my third Ashes tour and my second time in Perth," Mr Prideaux said.

"I enjoy it, it's great."

He said there was always the odd person on either side who took the concept of friendly rivalry a bit too far but they were in the minority.

"It's not a real cricket fan that does it," he said.