Cricket: Australia to play India at first Test Match at Optus Stadium

WACA chief executive Christina Matthews with Optus Stadium chief executive Mike McKenna. Picture: Bryce Luff
WACA chief executive Christina Matthews with Optus Stadium chief executive Mike McKenna. Picture: Bryce Luff

CROWDS of close to 200,000 could filter through Optus Stadium when the $1.6 billion venue hosts its debut Test Match in December.

Australia will battle cricketing powerhouse India, starting December 14.

WACA chief executive Christina Matthews was hopeful the Border-Gavaskar match would attract “close to 200,000” fans across the five days.

“It obviously depends how the game rolls out but there’s no reason we wouldn’t be looking to see at least the first three (days) close to sold out if not sold out and then day four and five panning out depending on what the game’s like,” she said.

The 60,000-seat facility will be India’s fifth stop on a two-month tour that includes three T20s, four Test Matches and three One Day Internationals (ODI).

“It’s such an exciting opportunity and one we’ve all be working towards for about six years,” Matthews said.

“We were very pleased with the attendances we got in our first two limited over games here.

“Such an exciting opponent having India here with Virat Kholi and the number of superstars they have in their team.

“I think the public will get behind it, our members will get behind it and hopefully we can exceed our crowd from the (ODI).”

A drop-in wicket will be used for the Test, with a Sheffield Shield fixture to be played in the lead-up to iron out any kinks.

“There’s no reason for us to think it will be anything but a world class Test pitch,” Matthews said.

“We did experiment with it following the (ODI in January), letting it roll out as if it was a Test Match to see how it cracked and how it deteriorated.

“We were very pleased with it.

“We will play a Sheffield Shield game here before the Test Match… I have no concerns about how the pitch will turn out.”

Optus Stadium chief executive Mike McKenna talks with WACA chief executive Christina Matthews after it was announced Perth’s $1.6 billion venue will host a Test Match in December. Picture: Bryce Luff

Optus Stadium chief executive Mike McKenna said the selected wicket could be one of the prototypes first put into the ground at Gloucester Park three years ago.

“We don’t want to promise too much but I think what we’re looking for is a traditional WA wicket,” he said.

Matthews also said players had no issue with the playing surface some in AFL circles had linked to a number of injuries.

“The playing surface for the cricket games was perfect,” she said.

“I think any playing surface that is new, people try and take advantage of that for their own purposes.

“Certainly from a cricket point of view there was nothing we could complain about.

“It was lush, the ball ran well. Unfortunately Australia lost and (the) Perth Scorchers lost and neither of the losing sides complained about the surface at all.”

Optus Stadium will also host an ODI between Australia and South Africa on November 4.

The WACA will host the first ODI between Australia and New Zealand’s women’s sides on February 22.

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