Australia news September 3, 2015

WACA to lose major international games

ESPNcricinfo staff
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The WACA will continue to host Sheffield Shield cricket and domestic limited-overs matches Abhishek Purohit / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

The WACA Ground will no longer host international matches featuring England, India or South Africa from 2018-19, with all major internationals set to move to the new Perth Stadium. Under a plan announced by the Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) on Thursday, the WACA Ground will become a boutique venue that will host only the countries that draw smaller crowds.

Sheffield Shield cricket and domestic limited-overs games will also stay at the WACA Ground, but Big Bash League matches will shift to the Perth Stadium at Burswood, which is expected to be completed by early 2018. The proposed timeline means that 2017-18 might be the last time an Ashes Test is held at the WACA.

Since the ground debuted as a Test venue in 1970, Australia have won 24 of 41 Tests at the WACA, which has been famous for the pace of its pitches. Drop-in pitches will be used at the new stadium, with the aim to replicate as closely as possible the pace and bounce characteristic of the WACA Ground.

The announcement of the new plans comes just two days after former fast-bowling great Dennis Lillee quit his role as president of the WACA. It is believed Lillee wanted all major international matches to remain at the WACA Ground.

The future of the WACA Ground has been the source of great concern for some years. Unlike the MCG, SCG, Gabba and Adelaide Oval, the WACA Ground does not host any sports besides cricket, which has made it difficult to remain financially viable. A plan to generate income by constructing commercial and residential buildings on site at the WACA Ground was abandoned in 2013 due to poor sales.

The WACA Ground has also been in need of an upgrade to its facilities, one of the reasons it was not chosen to host a Test match last summer when only four Tests were played against India. The WACA is hopeful of receiving state funding for an upgrade given its agreement to become a complementary venue to the Perth Stadium, rather than a competitor.

"The recommendations will see growth of cricket at all levels from grassroots to the elite," WACA chairman Sam Gannon said. "We now have the opportunity to showcase the best of world and domestic cricket at two modern stadiums, providing players and spectators with facilities expected for modern sport.

"Cricket patrons in Western Australia acknowledge that the WACA Ground facilities need improving and the WACA board has committed to a clear framework to invest in upgrades and ensure the ongoing viability of the WACA Ground and cricket in Western Australia.

"By adopting the recommendations, the board and management have a clear direction for taking cricket forward. The next stage will be about bringing that vision to reality by refining the structural requirements of the ground, developing a staged building program and securing the funding."

Under the plan, the WACA Ground will become a boutique stadium with a capacity of 10,000 to 15,000, while the Perth Stadium will hold 55,000 to 60,000 spectators. Four drop-in pitches will be used at the new Perth Stadium.

"Prototypes of the drop-ins are being developed with the same soil, clay and grass profile as the existing wickets at the WACA Ground," the WACA's Vision 2030 report said. "The prototype wickets will be placed in the ground at the centre of Gloucester Park and the WACA turf team will be responsible for developing them.

"In addition, at the appropriate time in the maturation process, Warriors players will bowl and bat on them to provide player feedback before the actual wickets are developed. To assist with the development of the wickets Cricket Australia has engaged the former curator at the MCG who is the most experienced in the country in drop-in wicket technology."

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the new structure for cricket in Western Australia had the support of CA.

"The strategy for Australian cricket is all about putting fans first and that's exactly what this move will do," Sutherland said. "It will provide cricket with world-class facilities for patrons and players and further strengthen our position as Australia's favourite sport."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Clyde on September 10, 2015, 11:48 GMT

    The policy of putting fans first is wrong. Cricket must come first. This is the bleeding obvious. The ridiculous statements that come from Australian cricket administrators lead me to wonder whether they are not also somehow responsible for the present poor standard of Australia's Test cricket.

  • Dramit Singh on September 6, 2015, 17:31 GMT

    I am sure that its definitely impossible for ca to get the same pace and bounce of waca on a drop in pitch of the multipurpose stadium in burswood.no matter whatever soil profile,clay content or black soil imitating to waca you use.concept of drop in pitches has made test matches boring in Australia.above all this I also think that no more kokkabura balls should be used in test matches because after first 15_20 overs it looses its hardness considerably,the seam tends to go inside and starts giving night mares to both pacers and spinners.it doesn't reverse too.just use either duke balls or SG test balls because these balls remain hard for a much longer time and seam remains pronounced for almost 80 overs and the most important thingh is it reverses quite a lot say after 30_35 overs which makes a even context between the bat and ball.

  • dummy4fb on September 6, 2015, 9:09 GMT

    It's sad to see this great venue not been chosen for international matches, trust the new wicket will produce the same as the WACA pitch which has produced some memorable fast bowling displays (Curtly Ambrose 7-1 spell)

  • Greatest_Game on September 5, 2015, 17:29 GMT

    The loss of iconic grounds is always bad news for all cricket. This is particularly bad news for Saffas. Fortune has favored SA at the WACA, where the Proteas have not lost a test, and in 2008 knocked off the 2nd highest ever 4th inns run chase of 414 for 4, only 4 runs short of the Windies record of 418.

    We'll miss the WACA for many reasons.

  • Dramit Singh on September 5, 2015, 13:39 GMT

    @METADATA.Thats correct mate.its a well known fact that teams like india,Australia,southafrica and England do attract huge crowd.but this has nothing to do with something like power.i don't know in what perspective you have used the term power when crowd loves watching these teams play.

  • metadata on September 5, 2015, 9:42 GMT

    teams that draw big crowds - eng, aus, ind, sa. so the line is drawn differently when power grabs aren't in the offing.

  • vj_gooner on September 5, 2015, 9:30 GMT

    Shattering piece of news. Can't imagine a test match being play outside of Nelson Cres!

  • Karthi_2K11 on September 5, 2015, 5:16 GMT

    I hope this new Perth Stadium proposed by the CA gets a retractable roof like the first one in Toronto, for the Blue Jays stadium (near CN tower in Canada). I mean, it is about time, is it not ? Toronto got it in 1989, & although it takes 20 minutes to close (the inaugural night was marred by a short, sharp shower), it is state-of-the-art, & cutting edge. Centre Court in Wimbledon has it, & Arthur Ashe stadium in USA will have it too. The Docklands Stadium in Melbourne (with a retractable roof that closes in 8 mins. according to WikiPedia) already has one that has shown that playing Cricket there can work. Or else, it may just turn out to be a whimper like the move from the fast & bouncy Sector 16 Stadium in to the run-feasts in PCA Mohali, both in le Corbusier's Chandigarh (Ind). We don't want that. I mean, seriously, nobody has been able to replicate fast & bouncy pitches, like the terror WACA that is, till date. If it is only to get a larger seating capacity, is it really worth it ?

  • SlipsGlance on September 5, 2015, 1:18 GMT

    Little known fact: The WACA used to be one of the main venues for hockey in the days before artificial turf. My club organised to play a round of veterans' games there a few years ago--marked the fields, brought in goals, for one Saturday only. It was magical. The sky was blue, the grass was flawless, and we played in front of a crowd of 20,000 roaring imaginary fans and about 17 real ones.

  • dunger.bob on September 5, 2015, 0:16 GMT

    On the positive side, I'm happy that CA have their mad scientists burning the midnight bunsens trying to get this drop-in pitch technology right up to scratch. As well as the pace and bounce of Perth they are also currently trying to replicate one of the screaming turners from India. As a technology it's still very young and there is a lot of potential for it to get a lot better imo. .. CA seems determined to get it right because, perhaps, the future of cricket in Australia depends upon it a lot more than we might think.