Australia news May 31, 2016

Gabba guaranteed international fixtures over next three years

The Gabba's pitch is known for its pace and bounce © Getty Images

Brisbane's slide down the pecking order of Australian Test venues has been slowed by the announcement of a deal to guarantee international cricket at the Gabba for the next three summers, meaning the national team can hope to maintain its enviable record in Queensland.

Starting with the day-night Test against Pakistan this December, the Gabba will retain its share of matches in the foreseeable future, despite having become increasingly vulnerable to competition for fixtures from other venues, including the redeveloped Adelaide Oval.

This vulnerability had been exacerbated by an apparent lack of interest from the former state government in lobbying for Queensland's share of international cricket, in direct contrast to South Australia in particular. This was hammered home by the Gabba's peripheral role in last year's World Cup, despite its reputation for having one of the fastest and truest cricket pitches in the world.

Elements of the venue and its surroundings have been targeted for upgrades, but the deal between Cricket Australia (CA), the state government and Brisbane City Council is understood to cover increased investment in marketing and promoting international cricket in the state. Poor crowds at recent non-Ashes matches have raised eyebrows around the country, and the local authorities have now acknowledged that more needs to be done to sell the game to fans.

Pat Howard, CA's manager of team performance, was understandably delighted to see the deal inked. Australia have not lost a Test match at the Gabba since 1988, so the safeguarding of the ground's international fixtures stands to help the side keep up their formidable recent home record.

"We've guaranteed international cricket here for the next three years," Howard said. "As we all know, the record here at the Gabba since 1988 - Australia hasn't lost here. So it's a place the team loves to come, loves to play, and it locks us in here for the next three years.

"On top of that, as we've seen, pink-ball Test this year, it's going to be an unbelievable occasion, a massive thing for the Queensland public and fans, and we know they're going to come in their droves. So from a whole-of-game perspective, it's going to be a wonderful thing for Australian cricket, Queensland cricket and I think for the Queensland fans."

Joe Burns, the Queensland and Australia opening batsman, explained what made the Gabba unique. "It's a great place to play cricket, the characteristics of the wicket, there's not too many wickets like it in world cricket anymore," he said. "The bounce of the ball going through is fantastic for spectators to see, the contest between bat and ball, and its fantastic news for the next three years going forward."

Next season Perth will upstage Brisbane in hosting the first Test of summer for the first time since 1993-94. However the Gabba is expected to return to the opening slot for the 2017-18 Ashes series. That contest is likely to feature a day-night Test for the very first time, but it is most likely to be held in Adelaide.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mustansir on June 2, 2016, 10:18 GMT

    The thaught to strip Gabba from organising international fixtures specially test matches shall never come to mind to the authorities. gabba is fortress for australia for past 3 decades. Gabbatoir shall be there for the visiting teams. gabba has always given belief to the australian cricket, whenever we were in tough situations, gabba has given the belief to stand up. before ashes 2013-14, most experts were saying that this ashes will be cakewalk for the poms and australia will be thrashed , but in opening test match Gabba has given a belief, strength and confidence that australia built on that and buried poms. Gabba should be there for australian cricket. i am going there for test matches and it's been wonderful experience to be at the Gabba. the pitch at Gabba is best of the world.

  • Abdul on June 1, 2016, 13:30 GMT

    Gabba is the best stadium in Australia even above MCG imo because of its design and lively pitches

  • andrews on June 1, 2016, 6:50 GMT

    No one is seriously saying the Gabba should EVER lose a Test match. ForPetes sake the media beat up last summer when the Sinday crowd was small- rain meant there was less than half a day's play, and for those who go to church, that half a day was almost over by the time we got out. Attendances have always been OK, conditions are among the best in the world, and some of the best Tests of all times have been played there.

  • Cricinfouser on June 1, 2016, 3:26 GMT

    @dunger.bob nothing wrong with the gabba at all, maybe looks a little dated. CA have been putting pressure on Qcricket for bigger numbers but CA does little to nothing to promote the first or the lead up in brisbane. Ive been going to day one of the first test the last few years and its been great. Very excited to be able to go to a day/night test.

  • Garry on June 1, 2016, 3:13 GMT

    There is nothing wrong with the playing field but the crowd facilities are starting to show its age compared to the others. The other state governments have spent a ton of money upgrading and building stadiums so of course they want more games.

  • rob on June 1, 2016, 1:26 GMT

    For God's sake, if we lose the Gabba we really are in trouble. It's been the best cricket pitch in the country for the last 20 years imo. I haven't been there in years, too far for me. Is there something wrong with the Gabba these days? Is it falling apart or something?

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