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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