The Ashes 2010-11 November 11, 2009

Staging row threatens Sydney Ashes Test

Cricinfo staff

The battle lines between Cricket NSW and the SCG Trust have again been drawn, with Blues chief executive Dave Gilbert suggesting Sydney's next Ashes Test could be staged at ANZ Stadium, the main venue for the 2000 Olympics. Cricket NSW and the Trust were involved in a similar stand-off five years ago during negotiations over the existing tenancy agreement, and Gilbert has again flagged the possibility of moving cricket from its traditional home at the SCG to the 80,000 capacity stadium in Homebush.

The last agreement, signed in 2004, expires at the end of 2010, creating an air of uncertainty over where the New Year's Test of 2011 against England will be staged. The very notion that major international fixtures could be relocated from the SCG will dismay the cricketing purists of Sydney, but Gilbert said he would keep all options open when negotiations with the Trust begin next year.

"ANZ is focused on getting a major cricket match to its venue," Gilbert said. "I know Test cricket will be a difficult one to do at this stage - and you have to weigh up tradition and history and the drama at the SCG - but when I was a kid growing up at the SCG, rugby league Test matches and union Test matches were only ever at the SCG. Not anymore.

"If you're a 15-year-old kid, you've only ever known big sport events to be played at ANZ Stadium - that's not meant to be an inflammatory comment, it's a fact. If you take the heat and emotion out of it, as CEO of Cricket NSW, I have to do what is best for cricket to generate revenue to keep this game going, and this is what this process is about.

"This is what our negotiations will be about the next few months. It has to be recognised SCG and ANZ Stadium run a ground and we run a sport, we need each other and it's about working out the best deal moving forward."

Simon Katich, the Australian opener and NSW captain, said it would be a "huge surprise" if the decision was made to break with tradition and relocate Test cricket from the SCG to the larger-capacity ANZ Stadium. NSW have staged 20- and 50-over matches at the Olympic venue for several seasons, but as yet no internationals have been played there.

"We've played a lot of one-day cricket out at ANZ Stadium," Katich said. "The game is always developing and changing, who knows where it could head now with where we play, but it would be a shock if we moved from the SCG.

"I think the only issue might be that the wicket at ANZ is a drop-in wicket and people are always worried about losing the characteristics of all the five different [Ashes Test] venues in Australia," he added. "That would be an issue, but in terms of attendances out there, we obviously get great crowds for the Blues and being a big stadium, who knows what a Test match could draw out there?"

A spokesman for ANZ Stadium said the venue's primary focus was to attract ODI and Twenty20 international cricket, but would not rule out a bid to poach Test matches from the SCG.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on November 12, 2009, 19:31 GMT

    Is this for real ? SCG is so steeped in history. Whatever the arguments that are aired, in the end tradition must hold sway with these venues. The ANZ looks like a cold place,no soul. SCG has loads. They couldn't leave Headingley,they can't leave Old Trafford, and hopefully the gods will arrange the same at SCG.

  • Matthew on November 12, 2009, 11:58 GMT

    ANZ stadium is bad enough for watching footy at- rubbish views, terrible atmosphere etc etc. Let alone cricket- I have been to a 20-20 game there and it was absolutely trashy compared to a packed SCG. To start with the ground is a poor shape for cricket, turf is usually in poor condition due to a lot of football being played on it, and drop in pitches don't work. Cricket fans wont go there to watch test cricket, and it won't happen. Taking test cricket away from the SCG is Sydney is exactly as someone else said- like taking it away from Lords. If it happens its another sign that Cricket is in decline and run by the almighty $$$ rather then the principles and traditions that have made it the special game it is for the last 125 odd years.

  • Simon on November 12, 2009, 10:13 GMT

    Its good to see that the CEO of Cricket NSW has the interest of the game at heart and is not engaged in an attempt to make more cash. Nope, cant seem to keep a straight face writing that. I have seen cricket played at both the SCG and THAT homebush stadium of no fixed name, and the homebush stadium had the personality of a tin can at the bottom of the ocean whilst the SCG, well, it was breathtaking. There is no comparison.

  • Hala on November 12, 2009, 8:48 GMT

    please DON'T let this happen. ANZ stadium is an abomination of a cricket venue and the SCG is significant part of Australian cricket. I really hope this does not happen, but the very suggestion, I really hope Cricket NSW has more priorities to actual cricket fans than it does to 15 year olds

  • Rajaram on November 12, 2009, 5:34 GMT

    I have personally visited the SCG and the MCG - believe mee, it is awe inspiring. Tradition has its great values that goes with them.

    Imagine not playing at Lord's or Edgbaston or Trent Bridge or Headingley - ANZ would be a let down for us Cricket lovers.

    How would you you get over not hearing nostalgic words from Bill Lawry, "Another hundred by Ricky Ponting at the G".

  • Richard on November 12, 2009, 3:09 GMT

    I think it would be great to see matches at ANZ Stadium. For extremely popular international fixtures such as the Ashes, it is worth taking a step away from tradition for the sake of getting more people to see the matches. Holding ODI's and T20I's at ANZ would also open up so many more opportunities for fans to see the game and become more passionate followers.

  • Luke on November 11, 2009, 23:43 GMT

    You can have your limited overs rubbish at the Olympic Stadium, but don't you dare take test cricket from the SCG.

  • hayden on November 11, 2009, 22:37 GMT

    i think the anz stadium spokesman makes more sense in the last sentence than NSW cricket makes in the whole article! fine if anz wants a ODI or a twenty20, but the scg is one of the worlds premier test venues! aswell as its located around the sydney CBD as compaired to anz way out west. and just because rugby codes have left the scg doesnt mean cricket should just follow suit! the nsw ceo says he must do what is best for cricket wouldnt that also mean not giving the test world another placid drop in pitch in a soulless concrete stadium when you have a venue with one of the best test pitches going around and teeming with history of the game!

  • Andrew on November 11, 2009, 21:19 GMT

    Playing at any Sydney venue other than the SCG would be unthinkable. Especially the Ashes. It's like England playing a soccer international at Stamford Bridge instead of Wembley, or moving a Lord's Test to Uxbridge. Only do it if the SCG is physically incapable of staging a Test. Rugby league and union tests may now be played at other Sydney venues but there's a reason why it's called the Sydney CRICKET Ground.

  • Jonathon on November 11, 2009, 20:55 GMT

    That is ridiculous! Next to Lords in London, the SCG is the home of Cricket in Australia and to move it from there to some flashy modern edifice of steel and zinc aluminum is more than criminal. If 15 year olds have only ever known big matches being played at ANZ then get them out the SCG and educate them, how about last years sth africa test at the SCG, steve waughs hundred a few years back?? well within 15 years but magnificent games...that statement is patently absurd! I for one would NOT attend a test match at ANZ which is primarily a ground for the football codes. If you take ANY test out of the SCG, let alone an ASHES test then you have ripped the heart out of cricket in Australia. Getting a ticket to an Ashes game is a very special thing, and something to be remembered that you are only one of 40 odd thousand who went to the first day of an ashes test. My first cricket experience was an ashes test at the scg - it was magnificent, long may it continue there, say no to ANZ please

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