The fact that Test cricket is happening in Cairns is the culmination of four decades of work by the local cricket community. Cairns has hosted many international events since the 1970s but not until 2003 did it experience a game at the highest level and is now proud to carry its status of being a Test Match City.
Cairns' international and first class cricket heritage goes back to 1975 when the visiting West Indies played a Country XL at the city's showgrounds. The day was memorable for rain all morning and anyone who could wield a mop was conscripted to help dry out the playing arena before play could start. In 1989, a Queensland Country XI played the visiting Pakistan side. In 1991, an event committee under the direction of leading businessman John O'Brien pulled together a Boxing Day Game against the West Indies and Queensland.
The committee model has since become the template for organising subsequent internationals and first class fixtures in the Far North. In 1993, Queensland played Sri Lanka at Barlow Park, a match notable for the debut of local hero Jimmy Maher and Martin Love under the captaincy of Alan Border and the coaching eye of Jeff Thomson.
With significant international sucess under their belt and the confidence of national administrators, the committee hosted a new form of the game in the winter of 1996. This was the Super Eights, played under the watchful gaze of patron, Greg Chappell and significant for the debut of a young Adam Gilchrist. A magnificent 'village green' carnival atmosphere was created at the Cazaly's Aussie Rules football oval with sponsors' marquees verging on the boundary rope. It was the debut of Cazaly's in the cricket big time and it is where Test Match cricket has now made its home.
At the same venue in 1997, Queensland played New Zealand: Martin Love got 200 and Jimmy Maher a century. In 1998, England fielded a Test-strength team against Queensland but it was to be the last marquee occasion and the start of a glorious new era as the foundations were being built in the background for the grandstand from the 'Gabba' to be installed.
Many Cairns and cricket fanatics, past and present, have helped shape and shepherd the Far North into a position where national and state administrators are confident to trust the infrastructure and their know-how with Test Match status.
Tony Ireland Stadium Townsville 2007
Harrup Park, Mackay.
Ray Mitchell Oval, Harrup Park, Mackay.
Heritage Oval Toowoomba
Photos by Russell Dennis
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