The Waca Ground in Perth is set to be scrapped as an Ashes venue under plans unveiled by the Western Australia Cricket Association on Thursday.
Under the proposals, international matches between Australia and England will be moved to a new 60,000-capacity Perth Stadium, which is being built across the Swan River.
The Waca Ground has been a daunting venue for touring teams over the years, especially England, who have failed to adjust to its notorious pace and bounce. England have won only one Test there, in 1978 against a side weakened by the Packer breakaway, and have lost on their past seven visits.
Work began on the new stadium late last year but is not due for completion until shortly after England’s Ashes tour in the winter of 2017-18. England are therefore likely to play one last Test at the historic ground, although the Waca did miss out on hosting Test cricket last winter following concern over its outdated facilities.
That prompted a Western Australia Cricket Association review into the future of the ground, culminating in the release of its “Vision 2030 report” on Thursday.
The Waca board has already approved the plans in the report, although the long-serving president – and former Australia fast bowler – Dennis Lillee resigned his post earlier this week.
I cannot stand by and watch what is happening at the Waca.
- Lillee told the West Australian newspaper.
“I do not wish to be part of it any longer.”
As part of the redevelopment scheme, which will take up to 10 years to complete, the Waca will downsize its existing ground into a “boutique” venue with a capacity of 10,000-15,000 spectators. All internationals matches against South Africa and India, as well as England, are to be moved to the new stadium, along with Big Bash League fixtures. The Waca will continue to hosts internationals against other nations as well as Sheffield Shield fixtures.
“To do nothing was not an option,” the 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.”
Drop-in pitches are set to be used at the new stadium – which will primarily house Perth’s two Australian rules football clubs – which has created some concern that Perth’s unique pitches will be lost to Ashes contests.
The Waca chief executive, Christina Matthews, said there were plans to try to replicate those wickets in the drop-in pitches, but did admit the resignation of Lillee – who particularly enjoyed the Waca conditions during his stellar career – after 11 years in his post was a shock. “I was surprised, as was everyone this morning,” she said. “There was nothing in the note he sent to us about why [he resigned].
Source - BBC