Brisbane is the capital of the state of Queensland and is situated on the Brisbane River. Both were named after Sir Thomas Brisbane, who was the Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825. During World War II, Brisbane became central to the Allied campaign as it was used as the South West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur, chief of the Allied Pacific forces. Now it's skyline is dominated by the central business district, a thriving area of commerce that does still contain famous landmarks built by convict labour back in the 1800's.
The Woolloongabba, named after the suburb in which it is located, staged its first cricket game back in 1896 but did not host a state fixture until 1931. These days it is better known as the Gabba, with the Stanley Street End and the Vulture Street End. As well as cricket, it has also been the home ground of the Aussie Rules team the Brisbane Lions since 1993. It has also hosted football fixtures and games of both codes of rugby, while was also had a greyhound track before it was redeveloped.
The Gabba has often been a welcome sight for seam bowlers, offering pace and bounce. If the weather is right, it can also swing. Reverse swing is also possible considering the lush outfield. However curator Kevin Mitchell Jnr recommended Australia pick a spinner at the venue last summer, such was the likelihood of the surface breaking up and offering turn in the later stages of a Test. It has long been used as the venue for the first Test of the Australian summer and it's not surprising, the home side haven't lost at 'Fortress Gabba' in 23 Tests stretching back to 1988.
In 19 Test appearances in Brisbane England have registered just four victories. Their last success at the Gabba came on their successful tour of 1986/87, when a century from Sky Sports' very own Sir Ian Botham paved the way for a seven-wicket triumph. However since then it has not been a happy hunting ground - on the last two tours they have suffered defeats. The 2002 contest was made famous by skipper Nasser Hussain's decision to stick Australia in, an idea that soon back-fired when Simon Jones destroyed his knee on day one whilst sliding out in the deep. In 2006/07 England managed to do okay at the toss...but then saw Steve Harmison deliver the first ball of the series to his skipper, Andrew Flintoff, at second slip. Last time out brought drama aplenty as Peter Siddle produced an opening day hat-trick before a record 329-run partnership between Alastair Cook (235no) and Jonathan Trott (135no) in the second innings helped England secure a draw.