More than 81,000 fans turned out to watch the second Test at Perth Stadium. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
If the Melbourne Cricket Ground with its sprawling stands and large capacity can be regarded as a great Test cricket venue, then so can Perth Stadium.
But it will take time, and Cricket Australia and the WACA need to work hard to elevate the match to make it a significant event on the calendar.
The crowds were fair for the first Test away from the WACA Ground and the overall attendance was a record for an Australia vs India Test in Perth.
The spectator experience is far superior to the WACA Ground, as is the comfort and facilities for the players.
The atmosphere was okay inside the ground, but at one-third full most days, Perth Stadium looked cavernous on television.
The WACA is keen to take advantage of Perth Stadium’s state of the art facilities. (ABC News: Dean Bilton)
But there is plenty of opportunity.
We became accustomed during the football season to dazzling light displays and sweeping aerial shots of the stadium with the Swan River and Perth CBD in the background, but that was mostly absent during this match.
Perhaps that had something to do with traditions of Test cricket, but WACA boss Christina Matthews is keen to make better use of the state-of-the-art venue and give the Perth Test its own identity, rather than steal an event from another city.
“Sport looks too much at what they can take rather than what they can add,” Ms Matthews said this week.
WACA CEO Christina Matthews is looking to give the Perth Test its own identity. (ABC News: Nicolas Perpitch)
Night cricket could draw crowds
It was reported this week that a day-night Test against New Zealand could be on the cards next summer if Cricket Australia and the TV broadcasters agree to it.
It’s a big if, given it the three-hour time difference would present an unusual time slot for the eastern states.
But a day-night Test would give the stadium a better chance to flex its technological muscle.
Perth’s new stadium offers a light and sound spectacular, if given the chance. (ABC News: Andrew O’Connor)
A total of 81,104 fans attended the five days of the Test against India — the number one ranked Test nation and one of the most popular teams in world sport.
The Black Caps don’t traditionally draw big crowds, and that is perhaps why the WACA is so keen to see a day-night fixture introduced.
The novelty of night Test cricket in Perth would ensure more people would attend.
Combine that with the fact New Zealand could be the number two ranked Test nation if it sweeps Sri Lanka in their current series, and the match could have more significance than it has in the past.
The Test before Boxing Day is the preferred time slot for the WACA, which means — given the difficulty in scheduling — a permanent date seems unlikely.
Day-night Tests could boost spectator numbers at the stadium. (AAP: Dave Hunt)
Closer Indigenous ties worth exploring
But there could be opportunities to be innovative.
This is something the AFL has done with great success with Anzac Day and Dreamtime at the ‘G.
These events have had great social and commercial impact and that is something Ms Matthews said was worth exploring.
Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts said Perth could play a role in more landmark games over summer. (AP: Trevor Collens)
“One of the things I love about this stadium is how they have embraced Aboriginal history and culture as part of the precinct, inside the stadium and things like that,” she said.
“That is part of Perth and WA. It would be great to have something related to that.”
New Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts wants more landmark games on the summer calendar and said Perth could be a part of that.
“It [the Perth Test] works beautifully for east coast TV viewers. And what a stadium. It is phenomenal isn’t it?” he told radio station SEN.
“We have got to be looking at three or four really key events and every cricket event is important, and there are some that really need to pop-up and become more important.”
Australia Day remains a date for cricket without a permanent international fixture, and with the exceptional growth in the women’s game there are expanding opportunities there.
Perth Stadium, and the potential of a revamped WACA Ground as a secondary venue, provides a tremendous opportunity for cricket in Western Australia, but it requires powerbrokers to be progressive to make it work.
Cricket powerbrokers need to work together to increase the opportunities at Perth Stadium. (ABC News: Jon Samball)