DARWIN will again play host to international hockey matches when Australia and Pakistan go head to head in a four-Test series next month.
The Kookaburras are the world’s No. 1 ranked men’s side with captain Mark Knowles approaching 300 appearances in green and gold colours and Territorian Jeremy Hayward (69 caps and 24 goals) a driving force in the side.
Pakistan are ranked 14 in the world, a long way off their glory years when they often battled with India for the No.1 ranking.
But Hockey NT executive officer Ian Harkness said the Test series, starting on March 28 and concluding on April 1 at Marrara Hockey Centre, would provide plenty of spectacular action.
“I expect we’ll see all of the big names like Knowles, Hayward and Trent Mitton (40 goals in 102 appearances for Australia) up here,’’ Harkness said. “A lot of the players would have just finished playing in the Hockey India League and will be making their way back home, so they should be here.’’
Darwin hosted the Hockeyroos last year in the first of a three-year deal with the NT Government aimed at bringing international hockey to the Top End.
The March 28 series opener will be a day game, with organisers hoping to fill the Marrara Stadium with schoolchildren. The March 29 and 31 matches will be night games, before a twilight game on April 1.
Three curtainraiser matches involving the NT and Western Australian under-18 sides have been scheduled for the last three matches.
Harkness said Pakistan were still a quality side despite political and social unrest throwing several sports, including hockey and cricket, into chaos.
“Pakistan as a country has its issues with a number of sports, but as a hockey team they are starting to come back to past glories, which makes for an interesting series,’’ he said.
“We’re playing this series a bit earlier in the year than the Hockeyroos in 2016, but with the international hockey calendar is going to change.
“Hopefully be playing these matches in the three-year window we’ve got, we can position ourselves to host matches every year after that.
Tickets for the matches can be obtained through the NTIX and Hockey NT websites.