Fans gather for the 3rd ODI at Manuka Oval
Fans gather for the 3rd ODI at Manuka Oval, between Australia and the West Indies. Photo: Melissa Adams
Sombreros, Lego men, Batman and Robin, a giant teddy bear and one man adorned with goon bags. It was another day at the cricket for Canberra as the capital put "its best foot forward" in showing off Manuka Oval as a venue for future one-day internationals.
Not even the still-lengthy beer lines could dampen the jovial atmosphere in perfect conditions for the full house who turned up to see Australia battle the West Indies.
While caterers put on some extra drinks stalls with multi-pour facilities, thirsty patrons complained the wait was a "shocker" but were still in high spirits as they queued for up to 40 minutes to quench their thirsts. "You miss a lot of cricket" one punter dressed as a golden duck said of the wait. A fellow duck said they could do with "one more" outlet.
Before the gates opened, not even Michael Clarke warming up in the nets was enough to draw the early faithful from the front of the queue to get in. On the line were prime seats on the hill, which had well and truly filled before the first over.
"The ground is awesome, I think this is one of the best things which has happened to Canberra, having the one-dayers out here," Pravin Bhatia said. "I wish they did some more exhibition matches here."
He was one of 11 "daddy pigs" on a rare day out from their young kids, dressed in custom-designed Peppa Pig-themed pink T-shirts.
Their organiser, Trevor Hickman, snapped up tickets before realising it was his wife's birthday, but insisted seeing the Australian team in action was a rare enough treat for a leave pass, despite his English accent.
Back outside the ground, as Shane Watson and Phillip Hughes were out in the middle, a small posse of kids fired questions at Mitchell Johnson between balls as he warmed up in the nets.
He happily answered such doozies as "do the pads help or does it still hurt?" and "are you wearing sandshoes or cricket shoes" - going as far as explaining the difference.
Among the suits, Cricket ACT chief executive Mark Vergano wasn't giving much away about more international matches. "That's in the offing, there's a long way to go," he said. "We work with Cricket Australia, they've had people here both days, so they've seen what the ground's capable of … we've certainly put our best foot forward over two matches so far.