Australia news July 4, 2014

Wagga Wagga to make Sheffield Shield debut

ESPNcricinfo staff

The rural city of Wagga Wagga will host a Sheffield Shield match for the first time this summer after New South Wales confirmed that two of their home games late in the season will be held outside Sydney. Newcastle will be the other city to host the Blues in February, when the SCG is unavailable due to the World Cup.

Wagga Wagga has a strong cricket pedigree - Mark Taylor, Michael Slater and Geoff Lawson all grew up there - but it has not yet hosted a first-class match. The city's Robertson Oval will be the venue for a game between New South Wales and Victoria from February 15 to 18.

Newcastle's No.1 Sports Ground will play host to the Blues from February 25 to 28, when they take on Western Australia. The ground has been the venue for 20 first-class matches since it was first used in the early 1980s, but Sheffield Shield cricket has not been played there since the 2009-10 season.

"We are delighted to be able to take two Shield matches back to the bush," Andrew Jones, the Cricket New South Wales chief executive, said. "Country regions have been tremendous nurseries of cricketers for New South Wales and Australia, and it is great that cricket fans in Newcastle and Wagga Wagga will get a chance to see their heroes up close this summer."

Cricket New South Wales said it had made multiple-year agreements with the councils of both cities which would ensure further events and fixtures in future, along with plans to improve the local cricket facilities.

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  • Stuart on July 7, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    There is a reason this is the first match in Newcastle since 2009-10. While the outfield is excellent and the pitch is OK, the facilities for spectators are nowhere near up to scratch. With decent toilets and some shade provided on the vast hills, there's no reason Newcastle couldn't host a First-class match every single year.

  • wayne on July 4, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    ykgd, it's a good idea, given that Vic have two (?) games that don't yet have a location - although as I understand it, apart from the MCG no other grounds in Victoria are first-class ready. I'm liking this approach by NSW to play outside of Sydney, but I gather regular service will resume the following season. Agreed, Chris_P: Wagga has given a fair bit to Aussie cricket, it's good they're getting a bit of cricket at home. It's also a lovely, relaxed city (hi nan!). If I weren't 16,000km away, I'd take a couple of days off work, drive up and catch a little of it.

  • Peter on July 4, 2014, 8:07 GMT

    Excellent choice. Wagga Wagga has a rich pedigree of cricket. Newcastle suits me far better than the SCG anyway so will be there. Lot of interest in the bush on Shield cricket.

  • Philip on July 4, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    Good one. Where is Victoria playing (at home) this year? There's plenty of opportunities to get out in the sticks. Might pick up a few spectators and a few is all you need to improve on current metro attendance rates. Wagga's not that far from northern Vic either. Why not SA & Vic over in the Western District or in Mt Gambier for similar reasons? Surely, this could only help to loosen the stranglehold footy has on these areas.

  • Dummy4 on July 4, 2014, 1:46 GMT

    They'll get better crowds and reach more people playing in regional areas than they do at suburban Sydney grounds like North Sydney and Bankstown. Don't know about Newcastle being "the bush" though - about 600,000 population isn't it?

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