MCG to host its first women’s Test in 76 years in Ashes

Ellyse Perry wants Cricket Australia to take a bold path forward on bigger venues for women’s matches, after the MCG was slated for an Ashes Test this summer.

Cricket Australia confirmed on Tuesday that the women’s team would play a four-day Test at the MCG from January 30 for the first time since 1949.

A T20 match in the multi-format Ashes series will also be played at the SCG, and Adelaide Oval will host a women’s international for the second straight year.

Officials have not put a crowd target on any of the matches, after four years of marketing prompted 86,174 fans to attend the 2020 women’s T20 World Cup final.

But they are well aware a significant increase for Test matches is required to stop the 100,000-seat MCG appearing sparsely attended.

The last women’s Ashes Test in Australia outside of COVID attracted crowds of about 4000 a day at North Sydney Oval in 2017.

Since then, the Matildas have regularly played in front of sold-out stadiums during last year’s FIFA World Cup and in the lead-up to this year’s Olympics.

“That’s the aspiration for everyone involved, to start to regularly play at the best stadiums around the country,” Perry said.

“And most importantly, have really good crowds attend those matches.

“That’s the next evolution for women’s cricket, but more globally as well for women’s sport.”

Realistically it appears most likely that the push for bigger venues will come in the T20 format, which generally attracts larger crowds for women’s matches.

But the backing of the Victorian government and Melbourne Cricket Club prompted CA to play this match at the MCG.

The fixture will also mark the 90-year anniversary of the first women’s Test at the venue in 1935.

It will, however, only be played over four days.

Last year’s Ashes Test was the first played over five days in 21 years, with a day-five Australian victory ending a run of 11 draws in 18 Tests between the nations.

Players from both sides have been vocal in their push for five-day matches, particularly given any rain often renders a result unlikely.

But the view of Australian officials is that a four-day match should lead to more attacking and positive cricket.

“We probably need to do some more quantifiable work on what is most effective for the women’s game,” Perry said.

“I have one sample size of one five-day Test, and we managed to get a result in that.

“My bias is geared towards that, having played a number of four-day games where we haven’t got results.”

Alyssa Healy’s team will open their summer with three T20s against New Zealand in Queensland in September, before the World Cup in Bangladesh.

Three ODIs against India in December will follow what is expected to be a shortened WBBL, before the Ashes begin with a North Sydney Oval ODI on January 12.


Scott Bailey
(Australian Associated Press)


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