Australia news June 8, 2012

Australia to make their Canberra debut


Australia will play an international match in Canberra for the first time next summer, as part of the national capital's centenary celebrations. Cricket Australia and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government have agreed that Manuka Oval will host an ODI as part of the 2012-13 Commonwealth Bank Series, although it is yet to be confirmed who Australia's opponent will be.

Sri Lanka and West Indies are scheduled to visit Australia for the one-day portion of the summer, which is expected to take place in January-February, ahead of Australia's Test tour of India. Sri Lanka have played an ODI in Canberra already, against India in 2007-08, and it was only the second international held at Manuka Oval, which also hosted South Africa and Zimbabwe during the 1992 World Cup.

Canberra could also be in line to become a venue for the 2015 World Cup, to be shared between Australia and New Zealand. Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland said a planned upgrade to the ground would hold it in good stead to become a more regular international venue in future.

"This is an historic moment for cricket in the nation's capital and a great way to help celebrate the Centenary of Canberra," Sutherland said. "Canberra continues to play an important role in Australian cricket producing some of our best national players and hosting the annual Prime Minister's XI match.

"The ACT government's commitment to upgrading Manuka Oval will not only help to position it to host future international and domestic cricket matches, including matches in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, but it will also help grow the game of cricket in Canberra and surrounding areas which is critical to our vision for cricket to be Australia's favourite sport."

Apart from hosting the annual Prime Minister's XI match and occasional tour games, Canberra has largely been off the radar of elite cricket in the past few years. The ACT fielded a side known as the Comets in Australia's domestic one-day competition in the final three years of the 1990s, but the team did not last into the 21st century.

The city has helped develop some of Australia's current Test cricketers, though. The wicketkeeper Brad Haddin learnt his cricket in the Canberra area and played for the Comets before attracting the attention of New South Wales. The offspinner Nathan Lyon also has fond memories of Manuka Oval, where he was a groundsman while playing club cricket in Canberra, which led to him spotted by South Australia.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Andrew on June 11, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    @hyclass - "...recall the SL Board being in the news for their incapacity to properly fund a recent tour." They also were reported to potentially be in a huge hole over the W/Cup (there are conflicting angles on that). SL touring Oz is suitable as they are a very good side (missing Test strike power with their bowling), but as shown last summer are competitive in ODIs. The relative lack of finance for SL means a tour of Oz is highly lucrative. I think Canberra is a genuine option as it does have some reaonably large regional areas on top of a population that is large (8th in Oz) & double Hobart. Of the top 10 populations in Oz, the cities #6 thru to #10, have basically ZERO international fixtures, yet Hobart 11th, Townsville 13th & Darwin 16th all have had Internationals in the last 10yrs. The Wallabies just played a Test in Newcastle (unfortunate weather AND result), & the Footy codes are expanding into new markets, I think its time Cric Oz caught up.

  • Christopher on June 10, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    @Meety...I wonder if you recall the SL Board being in the news for their incapacity to properly fund a recent tour. It was resolved in the end but tends to support your point on the financial influences underscoring tours these days. I've played SL Oldboys cricket and love the SL tours downunder, but even the most ardent supporters will acknowledge the lack of quality pace bowling in the SL side at this point. Finger spin rarely has the same influence in Australia. I recall watching an England v SL game in the country during the 92 WC where Botham made 25* from 12 balls,'accidentally' hitting 2 sixes and a then unknown Jayasuriya made 19 with four boundaries batting at number 7. Supporters of Canberra will recognise its remoteness from the bulk of the population and that people are far less willing to travel in 2012,given the many more calls on their time and resources.If the numbers fail to add up,the charm of games in Canberra will swiftly evaporate for those who underwrite them.

  • Andrew on June 9, 2012, 3:54 GMT

    @Danube - the SL supporters army has certainly grown in the last 10 yrs, but England supporters are far more common & Oz fans would rate ENgland & Saffas as more thrilling contests (no disrespect meant to SL). The real issue is the timing of the season & the fact that SLC does not have as much clout as BCCI, ECN or CSA. They offer a top level of contest & are not as demanding. Oz have long suppported SL cricket. @katandthat3 - its a pity that international cricket in Canberra in winter is not an option! I think it would get a better crowd aggregate than the top end! Even the Poms don't play cricket at zero degrees... much! LOL!

  • Garry on June 9, 2012, 1:38 GMT

    Great news for Canberra. It's a great ground and it's been great there has been an increase in State games as well as the upcoming international matches. Great that the Aussie boys will play there this season. The redevelopment is going well with the start of the lighting foundations. The GWS and government have helped with funding which has been a big factor in enabling Manuka to get bigger games. One issue with the partnership with GWS/AFL is that they have a lot of money and sure they'll throw there weight around when it comes to who has more of a say in ground usage. It'd be great to have a Canberra side in the next BBL franchises as a Shield team is a bit further off. A lot will depend on if there can be enough Commercial interest to back up a bid. Agree with a few others that it'd be great to see more winter games played up in Darwin or Cairns.

  • Daniel on June 9, 2012, 1:32 GMT

    VivGilchrist, simple answer - $$$$. Sri Lanka probably has the highest level of support of any visiting team to Australia, hence why Cricket Australia schedule them so regularly! I'm suprised its taken this long for Canberra to host Int Cricket, the support is undoubtedly there.

  • Andrew on June 8, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    It really is amazing that Canberra hasn't received more high profile matches. @smudgeon - Canberra would make a good Test venue for low profile encounters that Oz has to host, (Bangladesh & Zimbabwe), unfortunate about the Winter weather v Darwin!

  • Sriraj on June 8, 2012, 11:39 GMT

    @Mob_King: Yes, we do have Manuka trees in Oz and the suburb in Canberra where the above-mentioned oval exists is indeed named after the tree. One of the few suburbs in Canberra not named after a president! Lol

  • Jack on June 8, 2012, 10:18 GMT

    C. Cairns lives in ACT? I thought he lived in .... wait for it ..... CAIRNS! (I mean, Dubai).

    Aside: do you guys have Manuka trees in Aussie too?

  • Basil on June 8, 2012, 9:20 GMT

    How often does SL tour Australia? Seems like there here in some capacity every summer.....

  • wayne on June 8, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    very happy to hear SL will be down for another ODI series! the contests in the last few years have made for gripping viewing. good to hear Canberra is getting a chance to show off to the cricketing world. i think sometimes in Australia we focus too much on the big city grounds (ie. the usual test venues), and there's certainly scope to play in other cities, it's a bit of a mystery to me why more international cricket hasn't been played in the capital. even Devonport has hosted an ODI (with a strong Windies team in the 80s, no less!), so it's about time we got out of the habit of thinking the MCG-SCG-Gabba-Adelaide-WACA (and Bellerive to a much lesser extent) are the only venues worth hosting internationals - although I doubt any venues will be able to compete with those grounds for tests in the short-term.

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