ACT News

Crowd flocks to Manuka Oval for annual PM's XI game against England

From first time fans to those who consider the PM's XI game an annual pilgrimage, Canberra's sporting public today continued to show its support to the city's iconic cricket contest.

Even with the Australia v South Africa one-day international and the upcoming Big Bash League final adding competition to a crowded calendar, the latest edition of the PM's XI proved it can hold its own, attracting a large initial crowd to Manuka Oval.

A better than expected crowd of 8077 flocked to Manuka Oval to see a near full-strength England team beat the PM's XI team  captained by Australian Test opener Chris Rogers on Wednesday night.

England smashed 391 runs from 50 overs thanks to a cavalier 187-run knock from Ian Bell and although Glenn Maxwell replied with a century of his own for the PM's XI, the home side fell 60 runs short.

England won the toss and elected to bat first.

Chris Rogers was a late replacement to the team after original skipper Michael Hussey was forced to pull out with a calf injury sustained playing for the Sydney Thunder.

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Hussey's absence was a blow to promoters, but it seemed to matter little as fans turned up to see the next crop of Australian stars, including World Cup squad members Pat Cummins and Glenn Maxwell and exciting Canberra product Jason Behrendorff.

For 18-year-old Veronica Charlton from Queanbeyan, it was her first time to the PM's XI game, with the chance of seeing Hussey a major drawcard.

"I'm so disappointed he got injured," Miss Charlton said.

"That was the main reason I wanted to come out so I could see him play, but that's not going to happen.

"I just love watching cricket, it's such a good game. It's so Australian. It's good to be involved in the community as well.

"Coming to the PM's XI game is something I've always wanted to do, might as well, it's my favourite sport."

From a newcomer to a veteran of the PM's XI – Tim Wilson was making his 11th straight appearance.

He can still vividly remember the first one he attended, watching the late South African captain Hansie Cronje and a young Tasmania by the name of Ricky Ponting getting his opportunity against international opposition.

"It's the PM's XI, every year we're here," Mr Wilson said.

"I come to the all the Australian games as well, but it's the PM's XI, why not come here?

"I've been coming here since Paul Keating was Prime Minister."

As the more experienced spectators continued their annual traditions, the next generation of cricket fans got their first taste of the game.

Nine-year-old Rory Moore was celebrating his birthday with six of his teammates from the North Canberra Gungahlin cricket club.

They were able to see Cummins – one of the most exciting fast bowling prospects in the country – take the new ball, and England opener Moeen Ali play explosive shots to all parts of the ground.

Another first-time PM's XI spectator, Cameron Harmer from Fadden, was able to take the afternoon off from work to take in the action.

"It promotes a bit of young talent throughout Australian cricket, so it's good," Mr Harmer said.

"It gives a bit of a show for the Poms as well.

"Let's get a bit of a look at them to see what's coming up for the summer.

"It's always something you look forward and want to go to, but this is the first one I had a chance to go to."