CA back-flips on banning Poms

Written By Unknown on Senin, 11 November 2013 | 23.40

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CRICKET Australia has back-flipped on a plan to ban Alastair Cook's Ashes squad from using its $29 million National Cricket Centre, which will be opened in Brisbane today.

Senior Cricket Australia officials were initially hoping to place the centre off limits to the English squad, who arrive in Brisbane on Sunday for Thursday week's first Test at the Gabba.

But with the ever-present fear that Australian teams could get a rough deal when they wanted to use England's National Cricket Academy in Loughborough and the acceptance that other nations are technically allowed to use the venue, Australia decided it would not object to England using the Centre if it is not booked.

But here's the catch - it is booked, very heavily.

England's cricketers have arrived in Sydney ahead of their tour match before the Ashes opener.

So far the English squad, who land in Brisbane on Sunday, have not requested use of the venue though schedules often change in Brisbane's fickle weather.

Cricket Australia performance boss Pat Howard said "anyone could use the venue" but added "the Australian team is the priority".

"Queensland Cricket would come after that," Howard said.

"There is not a lot of availability at the moment. There is no real space left. There are bits and pieces but I sense they will go to Australian teams.

"Australian cricket has to work hand in hand (with England) here but we have not had an approach. It is a joint venture but obviously Australian cricket comes first.

"It is first in best dressed. The Australian team have been getting ourselves ready for a long period over here. We know our times and structures.

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"Half the team is getting ready up here already so you are going to have a fairly strong group getting prepared early."

The NCC, to be opened by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, features an indoor training centre with several simulated match surfaces designed to help players refine their skills on pace and spin-friendly wickets.

A new rehabilitation centre features a three-lane, 25-metre lap pool, a hot and cold plunge pool, three medical consulting rooms, a physio treatment area and a gymnasium with an anti-gravity treadmill.

Cricket Australia's High Performance staff will operate out of the new building that will also include two lecture theatres, one named after Ricky Ponting.

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Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said the National Cricket Centre will provide the support Australian cricketers need to shine on the world stage.

"Our vision is for cricket to be Australia's favourite sport and a sport for all Australians," Sutherland said.

"There are many things we need to do to achieve that. Men's and women's teams that are on top of the world game are key to Australian cricket's popularity.

"This new facility will help us with that objective, through its work supporting the champions of today and tomorrow."

Test great Greg Chappell said the NCC would be a bonus for Australia.

"We have a really good understanding of how to use these facilities now," Chappell said.

"The place for the NCC is adding value to what already exists. It is a wonderful addition to the development pathway for Australian cricket. These sorts of centres can only do the one per centers though."

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