Tony Ireland Stadium will host the main lead-in match to this year’s opening First Ashes Test at the Gabba with the touring English team to play in Townsville for the first time since 1962.

Cricket Australia and Queensland Cricket today announced that England would play a Cricket Australia XI in a four-day match in Townsville from 15-18 November as part of their build-up to the First Test from 23 – 27 November at the Gabba.

Queensland Cricket Chief Executive Officer Max Walters congratulated the Townsville City Council and Townsville Cricket on their efforts to ensure the match would be played in North Queensland.

“Cricket fans in North Queensland will now have the chance to enjoy international cricket in their own backyard and experience first-hand the 2017 Ashes campaign,’’ he said.

“Tony Ireland Stadium has earned an enviable reputation in recent seasons. As one of only three International Cricket Council (ICC) accredited venues outside of a capital city and featuring a 1000 seat grandstand, excellent player facilities and the ability to incorporate potential broadcasting capabilities, we consider TIS as leading the way as an international cricket venue in regional Australia.’’

“Cricket acknowledges and values Council’s continued support of cricket in Townsville and the considerable investment in facilities at TIS which have secured the success of previous events.

“It also complements our desire to inspire grass-roots participation in the game as well as deliver positive impacts for the local economy and provide opportunities to promote the destination both domestically and internationally,” Walters said.

Townsville Mayor Cr Jenny Hill said hosting the England tour match was a huge honour for the city.

“When it comes to cricket nothing compares to an Australia-England match and this is fantastic news for the city and sporting fans throughout the north,” Cr Hill said.

“The council has worked very closely with cricket authorities at a local, State and national level to secure the match and it’s fantastic that they have put their faith in the city with today’s announcement.

“Townsville will attract huge attention with the lead-up match before the First test and we look forward to the influx of fans and of course the Barmy Army.”

In recent years, TIS has hosted international one-day and first class matches featuring the likes of Papua New Guinea, Ireland and Hong Kong as well as the Final of the 2012 ICC Under-19 World Cup and last year’s Quadrangular winter ‘A’ series featuring teams from India, South Africa and Australia.

The my FootDr Queensland Bulls played their first Sheffield Shield match at the venue last season when they defeated Western Australia while the ground record was set in 2007 when a T20 match between the Bulls and Victoria attracted 10,024 fans.

While it will be the first time that England has played at TIS, Townsville hosted the MCC in 1962-63 when the touring Ashes squad played a two-day tour match against Queensland Country at the Sports Reserve.

Current Australian Test batsman Matthew Renshaw was on hand today at the announcement and affirmed player satisfaction with the venue.

“I was here during the winter series and the venue couldn’t have performed better,’’ he said. “I’m sure the fans will enjoy the chance to see what England have to offer before the First Test gets underway.”