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Perth mayor Basil Zempilas suggests Optus Stadium hosts a day-night Test to increase cricket crowds

Perth mayor Basil Zempilas suggests Optus Stadium hosts a day-night Test to increase cricket crowds

Read Time:2 Minute, 56 Second

Perth mayor Basil Zemplias has proposed a left-field idea in response to criticism over his city’s turnout to The West Test earlier this month, suggesting it should host a day-night match to draw in bigger crowds.

The city of Perth has come under fire for crowd numbers at the summer’s first Test against Pakistan, despite it being a WA record for a match involving Pakistan.

Outgoing WACA CEO Christina Matthews told 7NEWS.com.au the crowd of just under 60,000 for the four days was up 30 to 40 per cent on Perth’s previous highest crowd against the Pakistanis.

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But a war of words has continued between the west and east coasts, which was ignited by a social media post from Zempilas during Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test.

“Hmmmm. What’s their excuse? Not like you can go to the beach?” Zempilas wrote early on Tuesday when the crowd was yet to reach its peak, which eventually got to 62,157 despite terrible weather — more than the entire four days in Perth.

Sports commentator roasted after crowd attack

Despite the disparity though, Perth has proved itself a cricket-loving town, regularly filling its enormous stadium in a sea of orange for Scorchers BBL matches.

As recently as Boxing Day, over 40,000 people turned out for the Scorchers’ clash against the Melbourne Renegades.

It prompted Zempilas to ponder whether a day-night Test — which has been trialled before in Perth — would work better, despite that meaning an extremely late finish for those in the east coast time zones.

Basil Zempilas and scenes from the MCG on Day 1 of the Boxing Day Test between Australia and Pakistan. Credit: Getty Images

“Boxing Day will always be in Melbourne, we accept that. Sydney’s Test is gonna be around the new year. They’re gonna get the benefit of those holiday period test matches,” he said on radio on Thursday.

“Adelaide’s got the day-night Test at the moment (Adelaide is not hosting a day-night Test this year — Brisbane is) but if we keep just trotting up cricket at Optus Stadium in the hottest part of our year, and when there’s so many other things on, we’re probably gonna get similar crowds (to what there was against Pakistan earlier this month). So, we do need to shift the needle a little bit.

“Perhaps, because we love going to the Scorchers, because we’re accustomed to going to night time cricket at Optus, maybe we need to experiment with a day-night Test match over here.”

Asked about the challenge of navigating different time zones for the majority of cricket’s TV audience, Zempilas said: “Bugger what they say on the east coast! Haven’t we had enough about being dictated to!

“In all seriousness, it’s the holiday time of the year, kids can stay up later.”

Day-night Tests can finish as late as 10pm, which would be a 1am finish in Sydney or Melbourne, so the first ball in Perth for a day-night clash would have to be brought forward at least somewhat.

Cricket Australia experimented with a day-night match for Perth in 2019, which attracted crowds of 19,081, 20,018, 17,107 and 9334 for the four days.

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