ACT News

Canberra fans call for more stars in the Prime Minister's XI cricket match

Hayat Khan was working a shift at Coles just like any other when he saw Sri Lankan cricket great Lasith Malinga walk in looking for a sim card.

A self-confessed cricket tragic, Khan was in a daze trying to figure out why one of world cricket's superstars was shopping in Canberra.

Then it dawned on him that Malinga and his Sri Lankan teammates were in Canberra to play in the traditional Prime Minister's XI fixture at Manuka Oval.

Khan decided right there that he had to get a ticket and watch a Prime Minister's XI match for the first time.

"First time for PM's XI, but I have been to Manuka Oval many times," Khan said. 

"The first time I came to [Manuka Oval was to] watch the World Cup between Zimbabwe and West Indies [in 2015], where Chris Gayle scored a double century.

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"Since then I have been coming. I just love people batting and hitting fours and sixes."

Khan has loved the shift to the Twenty20 format, where big hits are the norm and the game is over in about three hours, opened the door for fans to pour in after work and school and not miss a minute of the action.

His only grievance was he wish more people had turned out, with the 5484 watching on when the first ball was bowled marking the sixth time in seven seasons the crowd hasn't cracked the 10,000 mark.

Khan offers one reason why.

"I was expecting a lot of people, but it's not too much of a crowd today," Khan said.

"I think people are not much interested in watching the PM's XI because [there is] not many stars. All of them are in India right now, all of them are playing Test matches. Maybe that was the reason."

The late start was a welcome change for Khan, because after a stressful day at work, he can sit back and watch the cricket and "feel refreshed".

Cricket ACT chief executive Cameron French says the shift to Twenty20 was "really well received" by Canberra fans with plenty of families around the ground.

"[There has been a] really strong response to the change of fixture to a T20 game and great support again for cricket in the ACT," French said,

"That always holds us in good stead for our future aspirations."