West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has copped backlash for the state’s border restrictions and now our cricketers are taking aim.
Former Australian spin bowler Stephen O’Keefe has taken a swipe at West Australian Premier Mark McGowan in response to the state’s hardline border restrictions.
On Friday, McGowan said the WA border would open only when 90 per cent of the population aged 12 years and older have had two Covid-19 jabs, which is not expected until late January or early February.
The announcement cast doubt over the fifth Ashes Test, scheduled to start in Perth on January 14.
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Regardless, McGowan was optimistic Perth could still host the Ashes finale as planned.
“We’ve conducted sport for the last two years … all of those things have happened over the course of the last two years subject to rules and bubbles,” he said last week.
“We held the AFL grand final – the best one I think in history – in Western Australia because we were kept safe, and we did it with good Covid rules. I’m sure we’ll be able to hold further sporting events.”
Western Australia Cricket boss Christina Matthews conceded Perth might not host any Big Bash League (BBL) games this summer due to the state’s borders restrictions.
“We may be forced to be travelling the entire tour,” Matthews told 6PR last month. “That is the worst-case scenario at this moment, we just have to wait and see.”
The Perth Scorchers are scheduled to host their first game of the 11th edition of the BBL on Wednesday December 8, while reigning champions the Sydney Sixers are supposed to fly into Western Australia in early January.
But speaking to reporters at the SCG on Thursday, Sixers veteran O’Keefe called on BBL administrators to scrap the Perth fixtures.
“I don’t like Mark McGowan … I don’t want to go there,” the 36-year-old said, as reported by News Corp.
“I hate playing at Optus (Stadium), we never do well, so I’m thinking maybe we just give Perth the two points and just stay at home and enjoy the weekend at home. I hate that plane flight.
“We’ll leave that up to the Big Bash people, but how about if Perth wants to come they can come to Sydney? We’ll happily have anyone from Perth, I’m not sure Mark McGowan thinks the same.
“Personally, I’m happy to give the points to Perth, they can have it. I don’t want to go there.
“He (McGowan) doesn’t want us there.”
O’Keefe also questioned whether BBL players should still be required to undergo strict biosecurity protocols this summer.
Earlier this week, Cricket Australia announced that all 300 male and female Big Bash and state-contracted players would be fully vaccinated by the end of November.
“Last year they did really, really well Perth in allowing us in. But you’re police escort all the way off the plane to your hotel, you had to stay on the same hotel floor, you played the game and then you’re straight back after,” O’Keefe said.
“It was uncomfortable … I’m certainly not complaining because it’s tough for everyone but if we could avoid that, that would be amazing.
“Like I said I’ve got no interest in going over to Optus Stadium and playing there.”
O’Keefe represented Australia in nine Test matches between 2014 and 2017, with his career-best figures of 12/70 coming against India in Pune.
The left-armer has featured in all three of the Sydney Sixers’ title wins, taking 63 wickets in 74 matches for the BBL franchise since 2012.
The Sixers get their 2021/22 campaign underway on Sunday December 5 when they face the Melbourne Stars at the SCG for the tournament opener.
The men in pink are hoping to become the first BBL franchise to win three consecutive titles.