World Cup cricket heads to Queensland

THE next Michael Clarke or Sachin Tendulkar could shoot to fame on the Sunshine Coast when the region co-hosts the 2012 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.

The Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Townsville will today be announced as the locations for the elite tournament to be contested in August next year.

It is a major coup for the Coast with the tournament attracting more than 200 of the world’s best junior cricketers. It will also be broadcast into more than 100 countries throughout Asia, the United Kingdom and South Africa.

It is the second time Australia will host the event, the last time being 1988 in Melbourne and Adelaide, and Queensland Cricket chief Graham Dixon said there would be major benefits for the region.

“Queensland Cricket is thrilled at the decision to bring the ICC World Under-19 Cup to our state and especially with the decision to play in two important regional centres, Townsville and the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

Some of cricket’s biggest stars have played in the under-19 tournament. Big-hitting West Indian Chris Gayle and South African captain Graeme Smith were the tournament’s leading run scorers in 1998 and 2000 respectively.

Australia’s Twenty20 captain Cameron White dominated the 2002 tournament and Australian Test players Steve Smith and Phillip Hughes featured in 2008.

Premier Anna Bligh lauded the economic benefits it would bring to the region with the matches likely to be hosted at Caloundra and Maroochydore.

“This is great news for the Sunshine Coast ... because it will bring the best young cricketers in the world here to play locally,” she said.

“This event will deliver an economic shot in the arm to the host communities ... and showcase Queensland to the world.”

The event is a great opportunity for the Coast to show its ability to host a major sporting event. The only regular major event hosted on the Coast is golf’s Australian PGA Championship each summer.

Sports Minister Phil Reeves said it was a golden opportunity for the region to prove it’s capable of putting on a show.

“It’s particularly exciting to be hosting it in 2012 because Australia is the current defending champion after winning the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand in 2010,” he said.

“Having this event here is a great vote of confidence in our ability to host major sporting events and I am sure it will be great tournament for locals and visitors alike.”

Venues for the matches will be decided in the coming weeks.

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