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Harrup Park has Twenty20 vision

Three of the most influential people in Australian cricket yesterday cast their eyes over the ground's $5 million upgrade, and liked what they saw.

Cricket Australia's general manager operations Michael Brown and project manager Sonia Thompson were joined by Queensland Cricket CEO Graham Dixon in a tour of the ground with Mackay Cricket president Barry Jansen and Harrup Park Country Club manager Brett Lea.

Already confirmed for January 15 next year is a day-night match between Queensland and an Australian Country selection, which will be part of the week-long Australian Country Championships to be held at Harrup Park.

That match will be the official opening of Harrup Park's upgrade, but it's a work in progress with more development planned which is expected to attract more big-time cricket and eventually international matches.
That work includes seating for 15,000 spectators (8000 seated), a lighting upgrade to TV standard, improved player facilities and extra parking.

Dixon confirmed that Queensland Cricket was targeting Mackay for Twenty20 in the summer of 2009, but cast doubt on the possibility of Pura Cup matches being played here.

"We had a Twenty20 match in Toowoomba which was a sell-out, were going to have Queensland play Victoria at Thuringowa (Townsville's new stadium) next summer. The following summer Queensland will play another state in Twenty20, we'll be hoping for sell-outs in all the regional centres.

"The shield (Pura Cup) is more difficult as it's over four days and it's financially not viable to play it at a regional centre.

"Twenty20 is our best chance of getting a sell-out crowd."

The Harrup Park visit was part of a whistle-stop tour by the group yesterday which included Townsville's new Thuringowa complex, and venues at Cairns and Darwin.

The inspection of the northern regional venues has raised speculation that Cricket Australia may be forward planning to host international matches in the north, as it did when Darwin and Cairns hosted Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2003 and 2004.

Jansen said there was a possibility the ICC could take an international fixture away from Malaysia and put it into northern Australia.

"We need to be well and truly on our way next year to have it (Harrup Park) up to international standard if we are going to get these games," he said.

An application would be presented soon to the Federal Government through the Mackay Regional Area Consultative Committee for funding, which Jansen hoped could be a joint state-federal project.

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