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Pacific qualifiers sees international cricket return to TIO Stadium

Callan Morse -

The International Cricket Council's (ICC) Under-19 Men's Cricket World Cup East Asia Pacific qualifiers will be held across Darwin this month.

The qualifiers will see likes of Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu compete in the 11-day, 21-match tournament with the winner earning direct qualification into next year's Under 19 Men's Cricket World Cup.

A drop-in pitch was installed at Darwin's TIO Stadium in preparation for the tournament on Tuesday, marking the return of international cricket to the venue for the first time in 15 years.

The last international series held at TIO Stadium was a thee-match ODI series between Australia and Bangladesh in 2008.

In welcoming international cricket back to the venue, Northern Territory Minister for Sport Kate Worden said sport is part of the social fabric of the Territory.

"Having international cricket return to TIO Stadium is another major achievement as we look to solidify our role as a sporting destination," Minister Worden said.

"We are already hosting top level rugby league and AFL matches at TIO, it is wonderful to see us add international cricket back to our schedule."

In addition to matches at TIO Stadium, fixtures will also be played at Darwin's Gardens Oval and Cazalys Oval in Palmerston.

Minister for Major Events Paul Kirby said the return of cricket to TIO Stadium makes Darwin well-placed to host international cricket.

"Hosting international Cricket in the Territory is another string to our bow, and adds another great sporting event to our events calendar," Minister Kirby said.

"The versatility of TIO Stadium, which has already hosted NRL and AFL matches this year, and will later this month host international Cricket, expands Darwin's major sports event offerings and continues to put us on the map as a major events destination."

The Northern Territory Government invested $350,000 towards this project and other related infrastructure upgrades, with a $50,000 contribution made to NT cricket to host the tournament as well as the upcoming CDU Men's Strike League and CDU Men's Top End Series.

NT Cricket CEO Gavin Dovey thanked the Northern Territory Government for supporting the return of cricket to TIO Stadium, saying the tournament is step towards the likes of Australian international fixtures returning to the Territory.

"Our sport loving community deserve the opportunity to watch Australia and the best cricket teams in the world play here in our own backyard. Today is a significant step toward making that happen," Mr Dovey said.

"Cricket's global growth and popularity is phenomenal.

"The ability to host international cricket will provide opportunities to promote and market the Territory to an audience few sports can offer."

The ICC Under-19 Men's Cricket World Cup East Asia Pacific qualifier will be held from 12 June to 21 June, 2023.

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