ACT News


Windies return with blaster from past

They were known as the Calypso Kings and, fresh on the back of World Series Cricket, they brought their exciting brand of cricket to Canberra for the rebirth of the Prime Minister's XI in 1984.

Sir Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Joel Garner, who are touring Australia while raising funds for breast cancer research, were back at Manuka Oval on Thursday.

After a 19-year hiatus, then prime minister Bob Hawke brought back the PM's XI and the trio played in front of a packed Canberra crowd.

Richards and Garner returned the following year and saw a fully clothed streaker give Rod Marsh a miniature bat.

It brought back memories of sports-mad Hawke, as well as meeting Malcolm Fraser. Richards, the ''Master Blaster'', managed just 26 and 19 in his two digs here, while ''Big Bird'' Garner went wicketless in his two games.

At least Manuka heard the sound of ''Whispering Death'' with Holding claiming the scalp of the beleaguered Greg Ritchie.


The visitors lost by 52 runs in '84, while the Windies lived up to their name with a 15-run victory a year later.

''I can remember when I first came here myself, way back, I met someone like Malcolm Fraser, so I'm giving my age away,'' Richards said.

''I can remember we were part of that Prime Minister's XI .. and I think we had the prime minister who would have been in office, Bob Hawke, if I can remember he was a very keen sports person and always very keen to have a word here and there.

''I can remember just the enthusiasm itself, it was a packed audience.''

Interest in the golden era of cricket has exploded after the hit show Howzat, which looked into the birth of World Series Cricket - brought about by media mogul Kerry Packer's fight for exclusive cricket TV rights in Australia.

The Windies will return to Manuka this summer, playing the PM's XI on January 29.

Then they'll go down in history as the first team to play Australia in the ACT - in a day-night one-dayer on February 6.

Richards said this summer was a chance for Canberra to put itself on the cricketing map for future fixtures - provided the music is right. ''Chris Gayle, who I feel presently is the most dynamic of players that you can find anywhere where cricket is played today, coming here to .. bless this particular oval and you can't have any better person than that,'' he said.

''Being in the West Indies team, with them winning the world Twenty20 cup, it is a great opportunity [for Canberra] to see a team on the rise.

''And the sooner you get those lights up it's amazing the atmosphere, but make sure that the DJ you have knows his stuff.''

ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr said the oval's lights were on track to be finished in early January.