Coffs ‘not out’ in appeal for Test cricket
COFFS Harbour is 'batting' against the odds to win hosting rights to a Test cricket match which ultimately may be determined in February.
Round 8 of the Sheffield Shield, will see the Phillip Hughes Tribute Match between New South Wales and South Australia played at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium from February 25-28 - gauging whether top flight cricket can draw sufficient crowds.
The Phillip Hughes Tribute match, part of a three year partnership between Cricket NSW and the Coffs Harbour City Council, could serve as a deciding factor whether the city can host test matches such as the Australia v Bangladesh Test match likely to happen in August, 2017.
Coffs Harbour District Cricket Association president, Ricky Welsh, said the proposal is a viable concept.
"No doubt its a great idea, I'd love to see it for the local area in the past Coffs Harbour has stood up and held some big events. I have no doubt it would be able to hold a Test match," he said.
Cowper Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker raised the idea in a letter to Cricket Australia CEO, James Sutherland, after media reports on poor attendances at Hobart tests at Blundstone Arena.
Less than 20,000 attended the last Test match at Blundstone Arena in 2012 against Sri Lanka - the match when Tasmanians had the chance to say farewell to home-grown hero and a just retired Ricky Ponting.
Mr Hartsuyker said the Phillip Hughes Tribute Match will drive momentum towards Coffs Harbour proving it can successfully host Test matches.
"Not only will people come along to enjoy a great spectacle of cricket but they'll come along to pay their respect for Phillip and his family and I think that that will certainly add a greater level of interest to the game," he said.
Mr Hartsuyker will be in Tasmania later this week where he will be chairing the Council of Australian Governments meeting and attending the National Training Awards in Hobart.
"I'm certain I will hear the Tasmanians point of view but I am certainly keen to explore the possibilities of a Test match in Coffs Harbour," he said.
The Premier of Tasmania, Will Hodgeman, told The Hobart Mercury he's confident matches will remain in the southern state.
"I am sure Cricket Australia will also want to continue playing matches being played in Tasmania and, if Coffs Harbour does get a Test, it won't be ours," Mr Hodgeman said.