ANZ cleared for international cricket
The ANZ Stadium in Sydney, the main venue of the 2000 Olympics, could play host to one of England's fixtures on their Ashes tour later this year, after the ICC Board gave the green light for international cricket to take place at the ground.
The decision was confirmed in a press release on Thursday morning, following a recommendation from the ICC Chief Executives' Committee, and it redraws the battlelines between Cricket NSW, who have staged domestic 20- and 50-over matches at the ANZ for several seasons, and the SCG Trust, who are determined to keep their historic ground as Sydney's foremost venue.
The current tenancy agreement, which was signed in 2004, expires at the end of 2010, leading to the outside possibility that the ANZ, with its 80,000 capacity, could seek to poach the traditional New Year Test from the SCG. Although the more likely scenario is the awarding of one of the seven ODIs that follow the Test series, Dave Gilbert, the Cricket NSW chief executive, told Cricinfo back in November that they would be keeping all options open.
"ANZ is focused on getting a major cricket match to its venue," Gilbert said. "I know Test cricket will be a difficult one to do at this stage - and you have to weigh up tradition and history and the drama at the SCG - but when I was a kid growing up at the SCG, rugby league Test matches and union Test matches were only ever at the SCG. Not anymore.
"If you're a 15-year-old kid, you've only ever known big sport events to be played at ANZ Stadium - that's not meant to be an inflammatory comment, it's a fact. If you take the heat and emotion out of it, as CEO of Cricket NSW, I have to do what is best for cricket to generate revenue to keep this game going, and this is what this process is about.
A spokesman for ANZ Stadium said the venue's primary focus was to attract ODI and Twenty20 international cricket, but would not rule out a bid to poach Test matches from the SCG.