Sydney: The northern tropical cities of Darwin and Cairns have been confirmed as future venues for Test matches, the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) said on Friday.
The ACB said Tests and One-day Internationals cricket will be played in northern Australia during the southern hemisphere winter of 2003. Chief executive James Sutherland said the ACB had scheduled the Australia-Bangladesh series for Darwin and Cairns between July and August 2003, subject to the final approval of the stadia by the International Cricket Council (ICC). "With the international cricketing calendar becoming increasingly congested, the ACB has been searching for suitable facilities in Northern Australia," Sutherland said on Friday. The Northern Territory government recently announced a multi-million dollar upgrade of Marrara Oval, while the Cairns City Council and the Cairns Australian Football League are committed to the minor works identified by the ICC in order to bring their venue up to the required standard. Test captain Steve Waugh welcomed the opportunity to take the Australian team to northern Australia. "To get the chance to play top level cricket in Darwin and Cairns is terrific," Waugh said in a statement on Friday. "The team hasn't played in this part of the country before and it will be a great opportunity to take cricket up to northern Australia where I know there is a lot of support for the Australian team." Sutherland said the ACB was looking to schedule more international cricket in Australia's north beyond next year. "Clearly with these two venues becoming available, the ACB will be looking to use them in the future." Dates are still to be finalised but the ACB confirmed that Darwin's Marrara Oval will host the first Test in early to mid-July before the teams move to Cairns for the second Test and the first two One-day Internationals in late July and early August. A portable drop-in pitch will be prepared for the Darwin ground. Bangladesh's visit to Cairns and Darwin is expected to be followed by Tests and One-day Internationals against Zimbabwe in 2004, a World A team in 2005, Sri Lanka in 2006 and Zimbabwe again in 2007.
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