The Gabba

The Brisbane Cricket Ground, commonly known as the Gabba,[2][3] is a major sports stadium in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, Australia. The nickname Gabba derives from the suburb of Woolloongabba, in which it is located. Over the years, the Gabba has hosted athletics, Australian rules football, baseball, concerts, cricket, cycling, rugby league, rugby union, Association football and pony and greyhound racing. At present, it serves as the home ground for the Queensland Bulls in domestic cricket, the Brisbane Heat of the Big Bash League and Women's Big Bash League, and the Brisbane Lions of the Australian Football League. The Gabba will be the centrepiece of the 2032 Summer Olympics and will be upgraded for the games.

Brisbane Cricket Ground
The Gabba
Ground information
LocationWoolloongabba, Queensland, Australia
Coordinates27°29′9″S 153°2′17″E
Establishment1895
Capacity41,974[1]
36,000 (international cricket)
39,202 (Australian football)
50,000 (2032 Olympic games)
OwnerQueensland Government
OperatorStadiums Queensland
TenantsQueensland Bulls
Brisbane Lions (AFL)
2020 AFL Grand Final
Brisbane Heat (BBL) & (WBBL)
End names
Stanley Street End (south)
Vulture Street End (north)
International information
First Test27 November – 3 December 1931:
 Australia v  South Africa
Last Test17–18 December 2022:
 Australia v  South Africa
First ODI23 December 1979:
 England v  West Indies
Last ODI19 January 2018:
 Australia v  England
First T20I9 January 2006:
 Australia v  South Africa
Last T20I1 November 2022:
 England v  New Zealand
First women's Test1–5 January 1985:
 Australia v  England
Last women's Test15–19 February 2003:
 Australia v  England
First WODI16 January 1993:
 Australia v  New Zealand
Last WODI8 February 1999:
 Australia v  South Africa
Team information
Queensland Bulls (1931–present)
Brisbane Bears (AFL) (1991, 1993–1996)
Brisbane Lions (AFL) (1997–present)
Gold Coast Suns (AFL) (2011, 2018)
Brisbane Heat (BBL) (2011–present)
Brisbane Heat (WBBL) (2015–present)
Brisbane Broncos (NRL) (2023)
As of 18 December 2022
Source: ESPN Cricinfo

Between 1993 and 2005, the Gabba was redeveloped in six stages at a cost of A$128,000,000. The dimensions of the playing field are now 170.6 metres (560 feet) (east-west) by 149.9 metres (492 feet) (north-south), to accommodate the playing of Australian rules football at elite level. The seating capacity of the ground was 42,000 in 2010, which has been reduced in recent times due to new electronic scoreboards and corporate facilities.[4] For international cricket matches, the capacity is reduced to 36,000 due to new scoreboards and the addition of a pool deck, as well as wider sight screens.[5] For AFL matches the capacity is slightly larger at 37,478.[6][7] The capacity will increase to 50,000 for the 2032 Olympics.[8]

History

Foundation

The Gabba in 1899

The land on which the ground sits was set aside for use as a cricket ground in 1895 and the first match was held on the site on 19 December 1896, between Parliament and The Press. Prior to this, cricket was played at a ground in the area then known as Green Hills (beside Countess Street Petrie Terrace opposite the Victoria Barracks – now occupied by the Northern Busway),[9] since at least the early 1860s.[10]

Cricket match, 1936

Greyhound racing meetings were held during 1928 at the ground.[11]

The Gabba shared first-class cricket matches with the Exhibition Ground until 1931. The first Sheffield Shield match at the Gabba was scheduled to be played between 31 January 1931 and 4 February 1931, but it was washed out without a ball being bowled. The first Test match at the Gabba was played between Australia and South Africa between 27 November and 3 December 1931.

In 1972, a greyhound track was installed at The Gabba with night meetings held weekly at the ground for 21 years.[12]

The Gabba in the 1980s prior to redevelopment

Expansion

From February 1993, work commenced on turning The Gabba into an all-seater stadium. The last greyhound meeting was held at The Gabba on 5 February 1993, with work commencing shortly after to remove the greyhound track around the ground to accommodate the relocation of the Brisbane Bears from Carrara (on the Gold Coast) to The Gabba, renovating the Sir Gordon Chalk Building to house the Bears Social Club and change rooms, refurbishing the Clem Jones stand (named for the long-standing Mayor of Brisbane, Clem Jones), the construction of a new Western grandstand, and extending the playing surface to cater for Australian rules football.

The work was largely completed by 11 April when the Bears hosted their first AFL game at the renovated venue against Melbourne in front of 12,821 spectators.[13] Subsequent further renovations at the ground saw the current two tier stands constructed in stages with the last stage completed in 2005 when the Brisbane Lions Social Club (formerly the Brisbane Bears Social Club) was demolished and replaced with a 24 bay grandstand spread over 3 levels of seating with the entire redevelopment costing $AU128 million.[14] In mid-2020 the Gabba received a $35 million refurbishment of the stadium's media and corporate facilities, as well as entrances and spectator amenities.[15] The work was completed in October that year, shortly before the venue hosted the 2020 AFL Grand Final.[16]

2032 Summer Olympics

After Brisbane was awarded the rights to host the 2032 Summer Olympics by the International Olympic Committee, the Queensland Government announced the Gabba would be the central venue used for the Games. The government has proposed demolishing the stadium's foundations and rebuilding the Gabba with new grandstands in its place, which would seat approximately 50,000 spectators. The cost of the proposal is $1 billion. The venue will be used for Athletics along with the Opening and Closing ceremonies.[17]

Sports played at the ground

Cricket

A cricket match between Australia and South Africa, December 2006
Test match between Australia and South Africa at the Gabba in November 2012

The First Test between Australia and England is played nowadays at Brisbane. Nobody seems to know why, and all sorts of arguments are ventilated for and against more cricket Tests on the Woolloongabba ground. I am all in favour of robbing Queensland of its greatest cricketing occasion, for the ground depresses. It is not a cricket ground at all. It is a concentration camp! Wire fences abound. Spectators are herded and sorted out into lots as though for all the world this was a slave market and not a game of cricket. The stands are of wood and filthy to sit on. The dining rooms are barns, without a touch of colour or a picture on the wall. Everywhere there is dust and dirt...Forgive me if I am bitter about the Woolloongabba ground...the city has many good points, and the people who live there are generous and hospitable to the highest degree, but once one goes to the cricket ground the advantages are overwhelmingly lost in the mass of rules and regulations...[18] – John Kay, 1950–51 Ashes series

The Gabba is used from October to March for cricket and is home to the Queensland Cricket Association, the Queensland Cricketers Club and the Queensland Bulls cricket team. The venue usually hosts the first Test match of the season each November in addition to a number of international one-day matches usually held in January. The pitch is usually fast and bouncy.

The Gabba's amenities were greatly improved in the 1980s from a very basic standard, especially in comparison with the other Australian cricket grounds. Test cricket was first played at the ground in November 1931, the first Test of the series between Australia and South Africa. In December 1960, Test cricket's first-ever Tied Test took place at the ground when Richie Benaud's Australian team tied with Frank Worrell's West Indian side. Queensland clinched its first-ever Sheffield Shield title with victory over South Australia in the final at the ground in March 1995.

The Gabba was the first Australian venue to host an International Twenty20 cricket match.[19]

In November 1968 Colin Milburn scored 243, including 181 in the two-hour afternoon session, in a Sheffield Shield match for Western Australia vs. Queensland.[20]

For the first day of the first Test of the 2010–11 Ashes series between Australia and England, the Gabba was almost sold out.[21] Australia's Michael Clarke holds the record for number of runs scored in one Test innings at the Gabba with 259 not out, breaking the previous record set by Alastair Cook.[22]

Australia has a formidable test match record at the ground. In the 55 matches played at the ground, Australia has won 33, drawn 13, tied 1 and lost 9. The last loss came on 19 January 2021 against India in the 4th and final test of 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar trophy.[23] India became the first Asian team to win a Test match at the Gabba.[24] This was Australia's first loss at the Gabba in 29 matches, and 32 years. England have a notoriously poor record at The Gabba, and have only won two test matches at the ground since the end of the Second World War. Many of their defeats have been heavy[25] and only seven England players have scored centuries at the ground.

On 15 December 2016, Australia hosted Pakistan for the first day-night Test at the Gabba,[26] and the first Australian day-night Test hosted outside the Adelaide Oval.

Panorama of the Gabba on the 2nd day of the 2006–07 Ashes series

Australian rules football

Australian Football Premiership Finals at the Gabba, 1907
An Australian Football Match at the Gabba in 2008.
Brisbane Lions vs Sydney Swans at the Gabba looking east in 2019

The first VFL/AFL game at The Gabba was held on June 28, 1981 with Hawthorn hosting Essendon in front of 20,351 spectators.[27] Six years later, the Brisbane Bears were admitted into the VFL but would initially play their home games at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast. The Brisbane Bears experimented with playing four matches at the Gabba in Brisbane in 1991, before moving all home matches to the venue ahead of the 1993 season. The Gabba was then the official home ground for the Brisbane Bears from 1993 to 1996 and since 1997 has been the home of the Brisbane Lions after the Bears merged with Fitzroy. The record crowd for an Australian rules football match is 37,473 between the Brisbane Lions and Richmond in the 2019 second qualifying final.[28]

Australian football has a long association with the ground. The Queensland Football League, a precursor to AFL Queensland played matches at the Gabba from 1905 to 1914, 1959 to 1971, and in the late 1970s and early 1980s. AFLQ matches resumed in 1993 as curtain-raiser events to AFL games, along with occasional AFLQ Grand Finals.

Interstate games, including the 1961 national carnival have also been played there, as was a demonstration game during the 1982 Commonwealth Games. In 1991 the Gabba was host to Queensland's only victory over a Victorian side.

The Gold Coast Suns have hosted games at the Gabba in 2011 and in 2018 due to the unavailability of their home ground Carrara Stadium because of redevelopment and the 2018 Commonwealth Games respectively.

During the 2020 AFL season, the Gabba hosted a greater number of home and away matches than usual, due to the temporary relocation of Victorian and other clubs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The venue was also selected to host the 2020 AFL Grand Final, with the Melbourne Cricket Ground not capable of hosting any spectators at the match. The Gabba thus became the first stadium outside the state of Victoria to host a VFL/AFL Grand Final, which Richmond won against Geelong by 12.9 (81) to 7.8 (50) in front of 29,707 people – just under the venue's temporary maximum capacity due to the pandemic.[29] Since the MCG began hosting VFL/AFL Grand Finals (VFL until 1989, AFL afterwards), only four other venues had done so: Princes Park (1942, 1943 and 1945), the St Kilda Cricket Ground (1944), Waverley Park (1991), and Optus Stadium (2021).

Soccer

In the early 1900s, the Gabba hosted numerous matches between Australia and various touring nations.[30] During the 1950s and 1960s the Gabba hosted soccer matches for English first division and Scottish clubs including Blackpool FC, Everton FC, Manchester United and Heart of Midlothian F.C.[31] The Chinese and South African national teams also played at the ground. During the 2000 Summer Olympics, the Gabba hosted association football group games.[32]

Rugby league

On 8 May 1909, the first match of rugby league was played in Brisbane at the Gabba. Norths played against Souths before a handful of spectators at the ground.[33] The Gabba hosted its first rugby league Test match on 26 June 1909, when Australia defeated New Zealand Māori 16–13.[34]

The Queensland Rugby league team hosted a match of the 1953 American All Stars tour of Australia and New Zealand at the Brisbane Cricket Ground.

The Kangaroos continued to play Tests at this venue until 1956, and a ground record crowd of 47,800 people saw Australia play Great Britain in 1954. From 1932 to 1959 the Gabba was also used to host interstate matches and International Rugby League Finals from 1909 – 2003.

In 2023, The Gabba will play host to three Brisbane Broncos matches while their regular home ground Suncorp Stadium is unavailable due to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.[35]

Rugby league test matches

The Gabba hosted 11 rugby league test matches between 1912 and 1956.[36]

DateHome teamOpponentsResultAttendancePart of
14 August 1909 Australia Māori16–138,0001909 Māori tour
6 July 1912 Australia New Zealand13–108,0001912 Trans-Tasman Test series
18 June 1932 Australia The Lions15–615,9441932 Ashes series
4 July 1936 Australia The Lions7–1229,4861936 Ashes series
12 June 1948 Australia New Zealand13–423,0141948 Trans-Tasman Test series
1 July 1950 Australia Great Britain15–335,0001950 Ashes series
30 June 1951 Australia France23–1135,0001951 French rugby league tour of Australia and New Zealand
28 June 1952 Australia New Zealand29–4529,2431952 Trans-Tasman Test series
9 July 1954 Australia Great Britain21–3846,3551954 Ashes series (All time Gabba attendance record)
2 July 1955 Australia France28–2945,7451955 French rugby league tour of Australia and New Zealand[37]
23 June 1956 Australia New Zealand8–228,3611956 Trans-Tasman Test series

Rugby union

The Gabba has hosted six rugby union Test matches.

YearHome teamResultOpponentsCrowd
1907 Australia5-14 New Zealandnot known
1914 Australia0-17 New Zealandnot known
1950 Australia6-19 British and Irish Lionsnot known
1951 Australia6-16 New Zealandnot known
2001 Australia13-29 British and Irish Lions37,460
2002 Australia38–27 South Africa37,258

2000 Olympic Games

The Gabba hosted seven games of the 2000 Olympic Games Men's Football tournament including a Quarter final match.

Date Time (AEST) Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
13 September 200019:00 Cameroon3–2 KuwaitGroup C26,730
14 September 200019:00 Brazil3–1 SlovakiaGroup D24,616
16 September 200019:00 Czech Republic2–3 KuwaitGroup C22,182
17 September 200019:00 Brazil1–3 South AfricaGroup D36,326
19 September 200019:00 Czech Republic1–1 CameroonGroup C23,442
20 September 200019:00 Brazil1–0 JapanGroup D36,608
23 September 200019:00 Brazil1–2 (a.e.t.) CameroonQuarter final 237,332

Greyhound racing

Greyhound racing was also conducted at the Gabba prior to the redevelopment.[38] Meetings were held during 1928 and again from 1972 until 1993.[39]

Awards

In 2009, as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Gabba was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a "structure and engineering feat".[40]

Largest crowds at the Gabba

Sport Date Crowd Event
Concerts 4-5 March 2017 60,000 Adele Live 2017
Rugby league 9 July 1954 46,355 Ashes Australia vs Great Britain
Concerts 6 November 2018 43,907 Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour
International cricket 9 January 2006 38,894 2005-06 T20 International: Australia vs South Africa
Australian rules football 7 September 2019 37,478 2019 AFL Qualifying Final: Brisbane Lions vs Richmond
Rugby union 30 June 2001 37,460 2001 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia: British & Irish Lions vs Australia
Soccer 23 September 2000 37,332 2000 Olympic Football (men's) Brazil vs Cameroon
Domestic cricket (Big Bash League) 5 January 2018 35,564 2017–18 BBL Season: Brisbane Heat vs Perth Scorchers

Test cricket records

Ricky Ponting holds the record for most career runs at the Gabba.

Batting

Most career runs[41]
Runs Player Period
1,335 (26 innings) Ricky Ponting 1996–2012
1,030 (13 innings) Michael Clarke 2004–2013
1,006 (11 innings) Greg Chappell 1974–1983
963 (19 innings) David Warner 2011–2022
915 (26 innings) Steve Waugh 1986–2003
Alastair Cook holds the record for most career runs at the ground by a non-Australian.
Michael Clarke scored 259* against South Africa in 2012, the highest score at the ground.
Richard Hadlee took 21 wickets in six innings, the most by a non-Australian.
Most career runs (non-Australia)[42]
Runs Player Period
443 (8 innings) Alastair Cook 2006–2017
314 (6 innings) Richie Richardson 1984–1992
298 (8 innings) David Gower 1978–1990
278 (3 innings) Martin Crowe 1985–1987
257 (4 innings) Maurice Leyland 1933–1936
257 (5 innings) Clive Lloyd 1968–1984
Highest individual scores[43]
Runs Player Date
259* v. South Africa Michael Clarke 9 Nov 2012
235* v. Australia Alastair Cook 25 Nov 2010
226 v. South Africa Don Bradman 27 Nov 1931
207 v. England Keith Stackpole 27 Nov 1970
201 v. Pakistan Greg Chappell 27 Nov 1981
Most centuries[44]
Centuries Player Period
5 (11 innings) Greg Chappell 1974–1983
5 (13 innings) Michael Clarke 2004–2013
4 (15 innings) Matthew Hayden 2000–2008
4 (19 innings) David Warner 2011–2022
4 (26 innings) Ricky Ponting 1996–2012
Highest batting average (5+ innings)[45]
Average Player Period
111.77 (11 innings, 2 NO) Greg Chappell 1974–1983
105.14 (7 innings, 0 NO) Don Bradman 1931–1947
103.00 (13 innings, 3 NO) Michael Clarke 2004–2013
85.16 (8 innings, 2 NO) Doug Walters 1965–1980
84.37 (9 innings, 1 NO) Michael Slater 1993–2000

Bowling

Most career wickets[46]
Wickets Player Period
68 (22 innings) Shane Warne 1993–2006
65 (26 innings) Glenn McGrath 1993–2006
46 (24 innings) Nathan Lyon 2011–2022
42 (20 innings) Mitchell Starc 2011–2022
40 (15 innings) Craig McDermott 1985–1995
Most career wickets (non-Australia)[47]
Wickets Player Period
21 (6 innings) Richard Hadlee 1980–1987
19 (6 innings) Bob Willis 1974–1982
18 (9 innings) Courtney Walsh 1984–2000
15 (6 innings) Curtly Ambrose 1988–1996
14 (5 innings) Chris Cairns 1993–2001
Best innings figures[48]
Figures Player Date
9/52 v. Australia Richard Hadlee 8 Nov 1985
8/71 v. England Shane Warne 25 Nov 1994
7/23 v. Pakistan Shane Warne 9 Nov 1995
7/60 v. England Keith Miller 29 Nov 1946
6/17 v. West Indies Glenn McGrath 23 Nov 2000
6/23 v. Sri Lanka Pat Cummins 24 Jan 2019
6/29 v. India Ernie Toshack 28 Nov 1947
6/41 v. Australia Bill Voce 4 Dec 1936
6/46 v. England Jeff Thompson 29 Nov 1974
6/47 v. England Geoff Lawson 26 Nov 1982

Note: best innings figures limited to 10; there have actually been 27 six-wicket innings hauls at the Gabba.

Best match figures[49]
Figures Player Date
15/123 v. Australia Richard Hadlee 8 Nov 1985
11/31 v. India Ernie Toshack 28 Nov 1947
11/77 v. Pakistan Shane Warne 9 Nov 1995
11/110 v. England Shane Warne 25 Nov 1994
11/134 v. England Geoff Lawson 26 Nov 1982
11/222 v. West Indies Alan Davidson 9 Dec 1960
Lowest strike rate (4+ innings)[50]
Strike rate Player Period
22.7 (20 wickets) Ernie Toshack 1946–1947
32.4 (13 wickets) Gubby Allen 1933–1936
34.5 (39 wickets) Pat Cummins 2017–2022
37.9 (31 wickets) Dennis Lillee 1974–1983
38.2 (17 wickets) Stuart Clark 2006–2008

Team records

Bradman made 187 after a controversial non-catch on 28 runs, as Australia totalled 645 in 1946.
Highest innings scores[51]
Score Team Date
645 Australia v. England 29 Nov 1946
6/607d Australia v. New Zealand 3 Dec 1993
9/602d Australia v. England 23 Nov 2006
8/601d Australia v. England 26 Nov 1954
585 Australia v. New Zealand 18 Nov 2004
Lowest completed innings[52]
Score Team Date
58 Australia v. England 4 Dec 1936
58 India v. Australia 28 Nov 1947
76 New Zealand v. Australia 18 Nov 2004
79 England v. Australia 7 Nov 2002
82 West Indies v. Australia 23 Nov 2000

Partnership records

Highest partnerships[53]
Runs Wicket Players Match Date
329* 2nd Alastair Cook (235*) & Jonathan Trott (135*) England v. Australia 25 Nov 2010
307 6th Michael Hussey (195) & Brad Haddin (136) Australia v. England 25 Nov 2010
276 3rd Don Bradman (187) & Lindsay Hassett (128) Australia v. England 29 Nov 1946
272 2nd Matthew Hayden (197) & Ricky Ponting (123) Australia v. England 7 Nov 2002
269 1st Michael Slater (169) & Greg Blewett (89) Australia v. Pakistan 5 Nov 1999
Highest partnerships by wicket[54]
Runs Wicket Players Match Date
269 1st Michael Slater (169) & Greg Blewett (89) Australia v. Pakistan 5 Nov 1999
329* 2nd Alastair Cook (235*) & Jonathan Trott (135*) England v. Australia 25 Nov 2010
276 3rd Don Bradman (187) & Lindsay Hassett (128) Australia v. England 29 Nov 1946
259 4th Michael Clarke (259*) & Ed Cowan (136) Australia v. South Africa 9 Nov 2012
228 5th Michael Clarke (259*) & Michael Hussey (100) Australia v. South Africa 9 Nov 2012
307 6th Michael Hussey (195) & Brad Haddin (136) Australia v. England 25 Nov 2010
148 7th Steve Smith (133) & Mitchell Johnson (88) Australia v. India 17 Dec 2014
135 8th Adam Gilchrist (118) & Brett Lee (61) Australia v. New Zealand 8 Nov 2001
92 9th Eddie Paynter (83) & Hedley Verity (23*) England v. Australia 10 Feb 1933
114 10th Glenn McGrath (61) & Jason Gillespie (54*) Australia v. New Zealand 18 Nov 2004

All records correct as of 23 December 2022.

VFL/AFL records

Player records

Simon Black holds the record for most games played at the Gabba.
Most career games[55]
Games Player Period
170 Simon Black 1998–2013
149 Luke Power 1998–2012
147 Nigel Lappin 1994–2008
Michael Voss 1992–2006
137 Daniel Rich 2009–2022
Jonathan Brown holds the record for most goals kicked at the Gabba.
Most career goals[55]
Goals Player Period
323 Jonathan Brown 2000–2014
295 Alastair Lynch 1988–2004
290 Daniel Bradshaw 1996–2010
184 Jason Akermanis 1995–2010
140 Michael Voss 1992–2006
Most goals in a match[55]
Goals Player Match Date
11 Billy Brownless Geelong v. Brisbane Bears 14 Apr 1991
10 Jonathan Brown Brisbane Lions v. Carlton 22 Jul 2007
Jason Dunstall Hawthorn v. Brisbane Bears 29 Aug 1993
Tony Lockett St Kilda v. Brisbane Bears 12 May 1991
9 Daniel Bradshaw Brisbane Lions v. Melbourne 2 Jul 2005
Lance Whitnall Carlton v. Brisbane Lions 25 Jun 2000
Most disposals in a match[55]
Disposals Player Match Date
47 Tom Rockliff Brisbane Lions v. Gold Coast 26 Jul 2014
46 Tom Mitchell Hawthorn v. Brisbane Lions 20 May 2018
45 Jack Macrae Western Bulldogs v. Brisbane Lions 4 Aug 2019
Tom Rockliff Brisbane Lions v. Fremantle 24 Aug 2014
Pearce Hanley Brisbane Lions v. Gold Coast 26 Jul 2014

Team records

Last updated: 1 October 2022.[56]

See also

References

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