BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 25: The crowd do the wave during day three of the First Test Match of the 2017/18 Ashes Series between Australia and England at The Gabba on November 25, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 25: The crowd do the wave during day three of the First Test Match of the 2017/18 Ashes Series between Australia and England at The Gabba on November 25, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Queensland desperate to reclaim marquee Test

Queensland Cricket has launched a new bid to bring the first Test of the Australian summer back to the Gabba.

The Courier-Mail can reveal high-level meetings will take place on day one of this week's day-night Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Brisbane.

Australia has not lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988 and Brisbane has become the spiritual home of the first match of the summer.

But the Gabba was snubbed of hosting one of the four blue chip Tests between Australia and India following stadium upgrades in other states.

The controversial decision to overlook the baggy green fortress backfired when Australia surrendered the series to India with a 2-1 defeat.

The Gabba was overlooked as the first Test venue of the summer.
The Gabba was overlooked as the first Test venue of the summer.

The Gabba is now the nation's fifth-ranked venue in Cricket Australia's eyes following the construction of the $1.6 billion Optus Stadium in Perth and $535 million redevelopment in Adelaide.

The Melbourne and Sydney cricket grounds will always be Australia's top two venues due to tradition.

Cricket bodies are lobbying state and federal government for a $100 million upgrade of the Gabba along with the introduction of the $5.4 billion Cross River Rail and creation of a cricket precinct in Brisbane.

Queensland Cricket CEO Max Walters and chairman Sal Vasta will meet with Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings, CEO Kevin Roberts and state sports minister Mick de Brenni at the Gabba on Thursday.

Walters said Queensland wanted the Gabba to be reinstated as a premier venue in Australia following the India debacle.

Australia hasn’t lost at the Gabba since 1988. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.
Australia hasn’t lost at the Gabba since 1988. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.

"We believe it was a mistake as it played right into India's hands," he said.

"That part of it, we told them about. If you take a hard, fast Gabba wicket out of the mix you will get overseas teams pushing to play everywhere else but the Gabba.

"We've been saying that to them for months and we've rekindled that with them in recent days.

"I said nine months ago it's the best cricket ground in the world inside the fence and I'll stick to that.

"It's about time inside the fence took a bit of precedent over outside the fence given what happened during the Indian series."

The Gabba fell down the pecking order of venues after former Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland admitted it was the No. 5 ranked ground in the country for spectator satisfaction.

Access to the Gabba is restricted and facilities are outdated, but fans have proven they are not afraid to attend big events.

More than 124,000 fans turned up to the first four days of last summer's Ashes Test, including three sold-out crowds, as Australia racked up a 10-wicket win.

The Gabba is ranked fifth in terms of spectator satisfaction. Picture by Annette Dew.
The Gabba is ranked fifth in terms of spectator satisfaction. Picture by Annette Dew.

Walters said Australia's record at the Gabba could not be ignored and off-field upgrades would further strengthen its standing.

"I've been to Perth and Adelaide and they are superb," he said.

"Our view is that aspect is important but not as important as what's inside the fence. That's been our view from the start of this discussion and still our view after the Indian series.

"We're very excited about meeting as it gives us a chance to sit around the table and talk about what needs to happen.

"The overall message we've given to Mick de Brenni, who has been outstanding with his communication, is there's a number of moving parts.

"Cross River Rail, Allan Border Field and the Gabba need to move forward together otherwise we won't end up with a world class Gabba or second ground. It will just be bits and pieces.

"Everybody gets it. It's just a question of getting everyone on the same page and moving forward."

The Gabba was left red-faced last week after an external power outage forced a Brisbane Heat Big Bash game to be abandoned.

A Big Bash at the Gabba was abandoned earlier this week.
A Big Bash at the Gabba was abandoned earlier this week.

While the timing was unfortunate a week out from the Test, Walters said that wouldn't thwart the Gabba's bid.

"It was a freak event," he said.

"They need to get their back-up guaranteed power implementation in place.

"The government is smart enough to realise that so I don't see that as an ongoing issue."

Next summer's Test schedule is not as appetising as the past two, with Pakistan and New Zealand to tour Australia.

The Kiwis would likely draw a bigger crowd, given their recent form in the Test arena, and Walters is hoping Australia can kickstart its summer at the Gabba.

"We're quietly confident we'll get one of the flagship Tests back next summer," he said.

"Pakistan and New Zealand are two highly competitive teams and we're confident we'll get a good Test match out of that."

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