Darwin grows as elite cricket destination

Aussie cricket stars meet Darwin's next generation of cricketers as the Top End plays host to Test squad's preparation

Darwin might well be one of world cricket's most remote outposts, but the Top End city is steadily enhancing its credibility as a perfect place for Australia's national teams to prepare before they embark on overseas tours. 

And potentially a destination for hosting top-level cricket in its own right. 

The Northern Territory capital played host to two Tests and four ODIs between 2003 and 2008, and is currently serving as the stop-off point for the Australian men's team, who are in town for a nine-day camp before departing next Friday for a two-Test series in Bangladesh. 

Quick Single: Aussies name XIs for practice match

On Saturday, 16 players divided into groups of four and headed to junior cricket matches throughout the city and its surrounds, spreading the sport's gospel to a passionate yet oft-forgotten cricket area. 

Captain Steve Smith joined Mitchell Starc, Peter Handscomb and Mitch Swepson at Charles Darwin University's sporting grounds in Palmerston, where three junior matches were taking place concurrently. 

Their interruption was a welcome one for the six teams, who happily drilled the four players with questions and posed with their sporting idols. 

Starc reinforced repeatedly that his decorated career had begun just like the kids he was speaking to, on suburban parks with synthetic pitches and witches' hats as boundaries. 

"It's really exciting, and you can see with the number of parents, brothers and sisters who came out just what it means to the local people," Alister Stevic, Palmerston community cricket manager told

"It means a lot to these kids to meet their heroes. 

"We've been working hard with our clubs to create a hub here today so we could have three matches going on so we can have a good atmosphere and environment. 

"This is just one venue of the many venues (the Australian players will be at); we had 300 children register for these meet and greets, playing some games and getting the guys' signatures.  

"They're always going to be really well supported when they come up here." 

A Darwin stopover for Smith's squad is a logical one for a number of reasons, beyond simply the injection it provides to the local cricket community. 

On Saturday afternoon, the tour party sweated it out in 32 degree heat for three hours at the excellent Marrara Oval, and by the time they depart for Dhaka next Friday, they will have been put through another vigorous session and what's expected to be a highly-competitive three-day match. It shapes as an outstanding way for the players to acclimatise to the sapping heat they'll be confronted by once they land in Bangladesh.

Australia arrive in Darwin for training camp

The city is also effectively a gateway to Asia and specifically the subcontinent, where much of Australia's focus will be directed in coming years as they try to improve their record in that part of the world. 

"It would be fantastic to get them here regularly," said Stevic. "It's very advantageous, not only for NT Cricket, but I noticed 'Boof' (Australia coach Darren Lehmann) mentioned on the other day that the facilities up here are top notch, and the value they can get out of running this camp up here as opposed to say Dubai (is considerable).

"So we see heaps of value in it, and we've got plenty of volunteers helping out behind the scenes to ensure things go well, and the NT Government has been really supportive too. 

"We'd love to see it more often. We'd love to get the ladies up here as well – women's cricket in the NT is getting bigger and bigger, so to have them here would be massive."

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad (preliminary): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mahmudullah Riyad, Liton Kumar Das, Mominul Haque, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Subhashish Roy, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Rubel Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Sanjamul Islam, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Mohammad Saifuddin, Anamul Haque, Abul Hasan Raju, Al Amin Hossain, Nasir Hossain, Muktar Ali, Tanbir Haider, Saqlain Sajib, Shafiul Islam.

11-17 August Australia pre-tour training camp, Darwin

18 August Australia arrive

22-23 August Tour match,Fatullah

27-31 August First Test, Dhaka

4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong