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Killer crocodiles loom for Ashes visitors

27 May 2017

Never smile at ... an Ashes tour match? // Getty

British media fret over threat of man-eating reptiles after Townsville was announced as venue for Ashes tour match

Forget Australia's fire-breathing collection of fearsome fast bowlers. England's greatest fear during next summer's Ashes series should be killer crocodiles and tropical diseases, according to reports in the British press.

Cricket Australia on Thursday announced Adelaide, Perth and Townsville would host the three pre-Test tour matches in November, with the final venue causing some alarm in the Old Dart.

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While Townsville has hosted both international and first-class cricket, it has never hosted an Ashes tour match and The Daily Mail noted with terror that the Ross River, a "notable meeting place for saltwater and freshwater crocodiles", runs right next to Tony Ireland Stadium.

Of particular concern was a 4.7 metre long 'saltie' pulled out of the Ross River last year, which has prompted calls for a cull of the man-eating reptiles.

The report, originally from Reuters, also stressed Joe Root's men would be wise to "apply insect repellent liberally in a city which suffers occasional outbreaks of dengue fever", noting the town's link to the Ross River virus, a debilitating tropical disease.

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Despite the virus' name, outbreaks of the mosquito-borne illness have not been limited to Townsville. 

UK newspaper The Sun also warned of the perils endemic in the North Queensland town, cautioning visiting members of the Barmy Army to resist the urge to go for a swim despite the "scorching summer sun" creating "temperatures easily breaking past the 30 degrees-barrier".

England's four-day match in Townsville against a CA XI will be their final tune-up before heading south to the state's capital, Brisbane, where the Ashes opener gets underway at the Gabba on November 23.

Former Australia Test allrounder Andrew Symonds, who grew up in northern Queensland and played junior cricket in Townsville, admitted he was looking forward to witnessing the Barmy Army's unique take on Townsville.

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"It'll be interesting to see the new songs they come up with when they're in Townsville," Symonds told The Townsville Bulletin.

"I've seen them in very close quarters and they are an intelligent operation in the way they conduct themselves through song and so on.

"They are cheeky, good spirited and fun."

But Townsville mayor Jenny Hill doesn't expect local fans to be short of a clever retort, cheekily suggesting the sweltering heat might prove too much for the tourists.

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"If the Barmy Army think they're smart they haven't met a North Queenslander yet," Hill said.

"I reckon the banter will be second to none and the match will be absolutely fantastic – it gives us an opportunity to see if the English rose will melt in the heat."

Australia opener Matthew Renshaw, a Queenslander who was part of the Australia A squad that played against South Africa A at Tony Ireland Stadium in August last year, said the ground provides a point of difference to the Gabba.

"I was here during the winter series and the venue couldn't have performed better,'' Renshaw said.

"It will be a good challenge; we don't want to give our secrets away too early and let the English prepare on a pitch similar to the Gabba, but cricket's all about having initiative and adapting to conditions.

"They'll have to adapt to here and then go down to the Gabba and adapt to that sort of wicket."

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2017-18 International Fixtures:

Men's Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Join the ACF

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI WACA Ground, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21