Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUX­WORTH

A LACK of suit­able light­ing con­tin­ues to hin­der Townsville’s goal of host­ing a Big Bash League match, but the city is in con­tention to stage a WBBL game this sum­mer.

The Bris­bane Heat is yet to con­firm a venue for two of its WBBL home fix­tures – on Jan­uary 7 and Jan­uary 12 – af­ter the BBL and WBBL draws were an­nounced yes­ter­day and Queens­land Cricket is con­sid­er­ing Townsville as an op­tion.

How­ever, it is un­der­stood the city will likely be over­looked for a Sh­effield Shield game this year given Tony Ire­land Sta­dium has al­ready been al­lo­cated an Ashes tour match be­tween Eng­land and a Cricket Aus­tralia XI from Novem­ber 15- 18.

Townsville hosted a Queens­land- West­ern Aus­tralia Shield game last year, but it is be­lieved Cairns and Mackay will be the fron­trun­ners to host a clash this year.

Given Mackay hosted the first Queens­land Sh­effield Shield home game to be played out of Bris­bane two sum­mers ago, Cairns looks likely to be favourite.

The light­ing at Tony Ire­land Sta­dium isn’t yet up to a stan­dard suit­able for tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ing at night, when the vast ma­jor­ity of men’s Big Bash League games are played.

“The re­gional cen­tres like Townsville are def­i­nitely in the fore­front of our think­ing when it comes to sched­ul­ing matches,” a Queens­land Cricket spokesman said. “It’s cer­tainly very much in the frame for fu­ture matches, the mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing ( stand­off) has slowed down the de­ci­sion mak­ing for a few things.”

Ev­ery BBL team was al­lo­cated an ex­tra home game in the 2017- 18 sched­ule re­leased yes­ter­day, and Queens­land Cricket have pre­vi­ously ex­pressed their de­sire to even­tu­ally play games at re­gional venues.

Queens­land Cricket boss Max Wal­ters told the Bulletin in Jan­uary the city was orig­i­nally be­ing con­sid­ered as an op­tion to host the ex­tra home game.

“Townsville’s def­i­nitely in the mix, we’d love to take it to re­gional Queens­land,” he said at the time. “Townsville, Mackay and Cairns have ex­cel­lent fa­cil­i­ties, and they’ll all be in the mix.

“The Gabba is go­ing to be hard to leave be­cause we’ll have to fi­nan­cially model what our profit … at the Gabba is… But we’d love to take it to the re­gions and spread the games around.”

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