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Carnival atmosphere at PM's XI


Lee Gaskin

West Indies v PM's I at Manuka oval, Canberra. Ricky Ponting signing autographs after the game. Click for more photos

PM's XI v West Indies

The PM's XI is playing the West Indies at Manuka Oval Photo: Melissa Adams

Not even the threat of rain could deter Canberrans from embracing their annual festival of cricket.

Whether it was the historic nature of it being the first game under lights, or the appearance of one of the finest batsman to don the Baggy Green, fans turned out in force to see the Prime Minister’s XI take on the West Indies on Tuesday.

Manuka Oval was abuzz with excitement at the prospect of seeing Ricky Ponting in action for the final time against an international opponent.

Long queues built up an hour before the start of play in a clear indication the day/night format is here for years to come.

While the interest in one-day cricket is arguably on the wane in the rest of the country, Canberrans showed their appetite for quality sport with a strong turnout.

Fans began rolling in at around lunchtime, the revamped ground building up steadily through to the change of innings.

Colourful attire was a must.

Green and gold hats were scattered around the ground, while one genius punter even resorted to donning a watermelon for his sun protection.

Love it or loathe it, the iconic Mexican Wave was wheeled out on the far side of the ground, but didn’t make it past the Don Bradman Stand.

The only downside was the absence of master blaster Chris Gayle, the West Indian superstar rested from the game with a stiff back.

Hopefully Canberra fans will get a sight of Gayle when the West Indies return for the one-day international against Australia next Wednesday.

That game, the first time Australia has visited the national capital, is already a sell-out and guaranteed to be kick-off Centenary Celebrations in style.

The impressive turnout for both games will strengthen Cricket ACT’s bid to host more quality games and boost its case for inclusion into the Big Bash League.

While having a Canberra team is the ultimate goal, luring either the Sydney Thunder or Sydney Sixers to play games here is on the drawing board.

Canberra has certainly showed they’d be well supported.

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