The Big Bash League is set to trump the Perth Test with fans not voting with their feet for Optus Stadium's first five-day match.
While ticket sales for the second Test have been lower than expected, the WACA is anticipating a sell-out for the Perth Scorchers' first home match of the BBL on Boxing Day with 33,400 tickets already sold.
Ticket sales are sluggish for the second Test at Optus Stadium.Credit:Peter Bennetts
CA expects a total crowd of 70,000-80,000 to attend the Test at the 60,000-capacity stadium, with an anticipated day-one turnout of about 21,000.
Optus Stadium officials are keen to poach one of Melbourne or Sydney's iconic Test dates.
West Australian cricket officials have said any Test with expected crowds in excess of 60,000 would be played at Optus Stadium instead of the spiritual home at the WACA.
This would mean Tests against West Indies, Sri Lanka and even New Zealand, who are due to tour next summer, are likely to be played at the WACA.
The hot weather – the bureau has forecast a high of 38C – and the timing of the Test in the build-up to Christmas have been given as reasons for the moderate level of interest.
The scheduling of grade cricket fixtures has not helped either. Grade cricket was suspended last weekend in Adelaide for that city's Test.
Competition for the sports dollar is fierce in Perth with AFL clubs West Coast and Fremantle both in membership season, while the Wildcats (NBL) and Glory (A-League) are also making strong pitches.
AB gives thumbs up to name change
Former Test captain Allan Border has endorsed the renaming of Australian cricket's night of nights.
What was formerly known as AB Medal night is now called the Australian Cricket Awards. The change has been made to reflect the rise of the women's game and the popularity of Twenty20, Cricket Australia and the players' union said.
The main gongs on the night are the Belinda Clark Award and the Allan Border, which are given to the best female and male player respectively.
"There's lots of awards on the night, not just the medal. I was very comfortable with the proposed changes, not an issue at all," Border told The Tonk.
The other notable point in the announcement was the joint statement issued by CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association, who are now enjoying a more cordial relationship after two years of hostility.
Grade expectations: Steve Smith will captain Sutherland this weekend.Credit:AAP
Smith back as skipper
Steve Smith will return to the SCG on Sunday as captain for the first time since the South Africa scandal.
Tonk colleague Andrew Parkinson is reporting that the former Test skipper is leading his grade club Sutherland in NSW Premier Cricket's Twenty20 finals day.
Smith is taking over from paceman Ben Dwarshuis, who is unavailable due to a Big Bash League practice match between the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder at Spotless Stadium that night.
Smith is serving a 12-month ban from international cricket and cannot be considered for a leadership position in the national team until March 2020 but the suspension applies only for competitions run by Cricket Australia.
The club has won the one-day and two-day competitions but is still searching for its first Twenty20 title.
"To win it'd be very special," Sutherland coach Steve Rixon said. "And probably even more important for us and for Smithy to do it with him leading that side."
Bat maker for the stars
Cricket Australia certainly created a splash when it announced it was replacing the traditional coin toss with a "bat flip" for this season's Big Bash League.
The bat has been specially weighted so to deliver, shall we say, toss equity. The man behind the production of the bat, Kookaburra's Lachlan Dinger, is the same person who tailor-makes bats for Test stars Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb and captain Tim Paine.
Dinger, we're told, has been seeing them well. At a recent corporate game hosted by the Melbourne Stars, Dinger nearly cleared the rope at the MCG.
His disappointment, however, does not compare to the Stars chief Clint Cooper, who dislocated his shoulder.
Well-known cricket MC Pete Lazer, who hosted the public reception for Meg Lanning's world champion Twenty20 team, is on the comeback trail from an Achilles injury sustained during a game of beach cricket.
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