Sport

Cricket World Cup and Asian Cup join forces for big crowds in Canberra

Cricket minnows Bangladesh and Afghanistan are more popular than two of the world's best teams, and World Cup officials are convinced three games at Manuka Oval can attract almost 50,000 people next year.

But soccer faces a nervous wait to see if crowds fill Canberra Stadium, Asian Cup chief executive Michael Brown urging the capital's sport fans to turn out in force to ensure the ACT government continues to invest in premier events.

More than 50,000 fans could front up at Manuka Oval for the three Cricket World Cup matches in the capital.
More than 50,000 fans could front up at Manuka Oval for the three Cricket World Cup matches in the capital. Photo: Melissa Adams

Brown and Cricket World Cup chief executive John Harnden were in Canberra on Wednesday meeting with 200 representatives from the capital's business community to talk about the benefits of hosting both sports.

The Asian Cup will jam seven matches into 14 days at Canberra Stadium in January, and there will be three World Cup games at Manuka Oval in February and March.

Tickets for the Bangladesh-Afghanistan cricket contest  are selling faster than respective games for traditional powerhouses South Africa and the West Indies.

Brown said soccer and cricket would work together instead of going into a cross-sport battle for fans.

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"Too often people think sports should compete, but Australians are sport lovers," Brown said.

"There's no battle. John would want everything to go well for the Asian Cup and I wish the cricket World Cup every success ... it's about bringing international sport to Canberra.

"It's getting people to support the sports, because if people don't come then people ask whether it's worthwhile and the government might find other ways to spend money.

"Our events are about tourism and trade investment, this is the biggest sporting event in Asia. It's a big coup for Australia and Canberra. It's about the sports working together. No sport can be ... the only sport in Australia."

Nine different countries will play Asian Cup matches in Canberra, but ticket sales have been slow to start.

Cricket, however, is targeting sellout games at Manuka Oval.

Manuka Oval will also host the Australian cricket team for the second time in two years, when it plays against South Africa in November, as well as the Big Bash League final.

South Africa is rated as the best team in the world while the West Indies boast master blaster Chris Gayle.

But the clash between cricketing unknowns Bangladesh and Afghanistan has attracted the most interest in Canberra.

"We've got three games in Canberra, we think it's very achievable to get 45,000-50,000 to the ground and we expect full houses," Harnden said.

"The fact that the Bangladesh-Afghanistan game has its nose ahead of the others is fascinating and just shows that a lot of the work we're doing with the community is working."

Harnden said cricket would not go head to head with soccer in a marketing battle.

"I think the sports are complementary, people love to go out to them. Big events are like magnets," Harnden said.

"Canberra has proved itself with cricket, we're sure Canberrans will come out in force and make everyone proud."