Ashes comes to Tasmania for the first time!
In England, Ashes contests not only take place at historic and larger grounds like Lord’s, The Oval, Old Trafford and Headingley but it’s played in smaller and new centers like Sophia Gardens in Cardiff and Rose Bowl in Southampton. But it’s a different scenario in Australia where they rarely deviate from the five main cricketing centers – MCG, SCG, Adelaide Oval, Perth and the Gabba. But with Western Australia in lockdown, there was an opportunity for one of the iconic grounds of the game to get a taste of cricket’s oldest rivalry. Hence, the Bellerieve Oval made its Ashes debut this summer.A short drive from the Hobart city center, the scenery at the Bellerieve is stunning but the big boys like India and England hardly play here. England have ended that drought owing to circumstances and so should India.The facilities here are as good as any other cricket center in Australia and its only disadvantage is that it can host just over 15,000 fans whereas MCG is capable of welcoming close to 100,000 spectators.Bellerieve is not as old as some of the other cricket centers in Australia that have been hosting Test cricket for well over 100 years. Having first hosted a Test match in 1989 against Sri Lanka, the venue has seen some superb contests over the years.As you enter the ground, you see an iron statue of David Boon, the former Australian opener and current ICC Match Referee. Boon is Hobart’s famous cricketing son. What about Ricky Ponting, you may wonder? It is true that Ponting is from Tasmania but his hometown is the other big city in the island, Launceston.Launceston also has a cricket ground and hosted an ODI way back in 1986 when India took on New Zealand in the Benson & Hedges series. But nowadays, cricket in Tasmania is primarily played at the Bellerieve.Boon, Ponting and Max Walker were the leading cricketers to emerge from Tasmania for a long time, but in recent years there have been some very impressive players like George Bailey, Ben Hilfenhaus, Tim Paine and Xavier Doherty.Separated from the main land Australia, Tasmania is an island where about 500,000 people live. Aborigines had been living in Tasmania for over 30,000 years and the island was discovered by Abel Tasman in 1642. It’s an hour’s flight from Melbourne and tourism thrives here as it is said to be having the worlds’ cleanest air. The Tasman devil is a key attractor of tourists to the island.The moment you land in Tasmania airport, you find sniffer dogs coming after you. A group of reporters were once held up when dogs sniffed some suspicions items. So, what were the reporters carrying? Were they having drugs in their laptop bags? No, some of them were carrying fruits in their bags. It is banned in Tasmania to bring fruits from mainland Australia.