Australia v WI, 1st Test, 2022-23

Alan Border once observed that playing a Test match in Perth, Australia was like being abroad.

Whether this was said in jest or not is difficult to say as the Perth Test matches were affected differently by the natural bias of the locals, who have a particularly unique identity from other parts of the country.

Western Australia, separated from the east coast by the vast Nullarber Plain in the 1930s, became the only Australian state to ever attempt to become its own country.

Talk of separation resurfaced half-jokingly during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when WA closed its border for much of 2020 and 2021.

Although tough-talking Premier Mark McGowan became a divisive figure across the country, he enjoyed a celebrity status in his home state that is unusual in Australian politics, as he deftly steered these ‘Over East’ were opposed by the increasingly desolate Western Australians.

The single-eyed enthusiasm spills over into sports, where local teams are supported to such an extent that you’d think WA cricket fans care more about the Perth Scorchers than the Australian national team.

With a small crowd reported for the first Test against the West Indies at Optus Stadium starting on Wednesday, amid a messy exit from favorite son Justin Langer’s passing from Rangers as Australia coach, the West Australian and the national team The focus is on relationships between.

There is an impression on social media that West Australians, angry over the Langer saga, will essentially boycott the first Test played in Perth since December 2019. With ticket sales slowing, the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium could look a bit grim with dire predictions. Less than 10,000 fans attended on the first day.

While public support is undoubtedly behind Langer, whose gravitas once saw him as a potential savior of the state’s lifeless opposition political party, a number of factors contributed to the lack of interest in the midweek test. There are those who may struggle to make it through the weekend. If West Indies’ past struggles in Australia are anything to go by.

When Perth missed out on hosting the Ashes Test last summer because of its tight border, it was instructive that WA Cricket chief executive Christina Matthews publicly campaigned for South Africa to host this season.

In a notable contrast to previous years, there is a lack of WA players in the national selection frame even though the state currently dominates men’s domestic cricket. The notable exception is Cameron Green who will be the only WA cricketer to play in the first Test.

Although on the cusp of superstardom, as is his eye on the rich in the IPL, Green is still relatively unknown to the public as the brash 23-year-old slowly grows more comfortable in the limelight. Is.

As he prepares for his first home Test, Green has been a hook to fuel media coverage of the match, fronting the cameras several times in recent weeks and a lengthy profile in the local Sunday newspaper’s magazine. gave

It was remarkable press for cricket, which has been pushed back sharply in Perth while coverage of the fanatically followed Australian Football League has been on the rise, following a never-ending season. The season of cricket has been eaten up with a transaction period of .

The two-day AFL draft, where the best youngsters in the system are selected, concluded on Tuesday and likely dominated local airwaves and print.

Expectations for a long-awaited Test in Perth have also been tempered by the number of international matches that have already been officially played there before the summer.

It will likely cause a laugh from those on the other side of the country, but Perth may already be international cricket fatigued after hosting five games of the men’s T20 World Cup, which India-South Africa Blockbuster and Australia-Sri Lanka have featured. In matches attracting a total of 70,000 spectators.

The Australia-England T20I earlier in October was also quickly forgotten, with over 25,000 in attendance, coinciding with a saturated international calendar that most people can’t keep track of. .

But, perhaps most importantly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to gauge public sentiment towards the current Australian team, which some believe will receive little support at home during the T20 World Cup. Then they are on the nose across the country.

There has been some anger at captain Pat Cummins, for reasons that are not fully understood, but may be taking away from the team’s overall popularity.

This means the potential awkwardness of receiving a frosty reception on Australian soil. But given the apparent indifference to this obscure test, that’s unlikely.

Tristan Lovelette is a journalist based in Perth.

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