Kevin Maher leads push to bring international cricket back to Cairns
CAIRNS cricket supremo Kev Maher is on a mission to bring the best players in the world back to Cazalys and will meet Queensland Cricket officials in Brisbane tomorrow to begin the process.
The move has the backing of former Queensland star Martin Love, who struck an unbeaten century for his country in a Test in the Far North almost 10 years ago.
And the Cairns push comes after poor crowds at the Hobart Test over the weekend forced Cricket Tasmania to defend its status as a Test venue.
Cazalys hosted the first Test in Australia outside of a capital city when Bangladesh toured in 2003.
Love made 100 in that game and the following year Shane Warne equalled the world record for most wickets in Tests when Australian played Sri Lanka at Cazalys.
"Getting high-quality cricket back here is my priority," said Mr Maher, Queensland Country Cricket president and special events co-ordinator for Cricket Far North.
Mr Maher will meet interim Queensland Cricket boss Richard Powell tomorrow, when he hopes to secure a domestic day-night fixture for Cairns next November and get Cairns back on the first-class cricket circuit.
"We need to show off the place and push for a Test or a game during the 2015 World Cup," Mr Maher told The Cairns Post.
The recent multi-million dollar lighting upgrade and advancements to player, media and corporate facilities will help the Cairns cause.
"The facilities compared to 2003 and 2004 are much improved and were still rated highly back then," he said.
Love, who is now the physiotherapist for the Queensland Bulls and Brisbane Heat Twenty20 franchise, yesterday endorsed Cazalys as a Test match venue.
"I always enjoyed playing there and the crowds were very patriotic. I think there should definitely be more first class cricket in Cairns," he told The Cairns Post.
"It was not dissimilar to the Gabba I always thought, and the wickets were always very good. I got to make a hundred for Australia and batted with Steve Waugh, so it was very memorable."
Less than 6000people turned up for Ricky Ponting's farewell ceremony on day one of the Hobart Test match on Friday. Crowd figures over the weekend were also disappointing with poor weather also disrupting play.
The 2004 Test at Cazalys drew 20,000-plus through the gates over five days, while about 8000 went to one day internationals at the ground in 2003.
"We have seen the support for AFL games and no doubt the NRL game will sell out," Mr Maher said.
"To get 6000 to a Test here is well within our expectations."
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Game on: Cairns cricket supremo Kevin Maher is looking to bring elite cricket back to the Far North.