Sport

Manuka Oval to be up to scratch for South Africa ODI

Manuka Oval head curator Brad van Dam promises that the playing surface will be of a high standard for next Wednesday's one-day international between Australia and South Africa, despite the outfield looking patchy.

Canberra's bumper summer of cricket enters its next instalment when the world's third and second-ranked teams in the 50-over format line up in the national capital.

Grass in the outfield a little patchy at Manuka Oval ahead of the One Day International between Australia and South Africa.
Grass in the outfield a little patchy at Manuka Oval ahead of the One Day International between Australia and South Africa.  Photo: Jeffrey Chan

The November 19 fixture is the earliest that a game featuring two ICC member nations has been held at the ground, with Afghanistan and Ireland having held World Cup warm-up games in September and October.

The Manuka Oval outfield is patchy with the rye grass there for the AFL games during winter replaced with cooch for summer.

Manuka Oval curator  Brad van Dam.
Manuka Oval curator Brad van Dam. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Van Dam said there shouldn't be a problem with the outfield even if aesthetically it wasn't perfect.

"The ground's looking better and better every day and we've still got five days to go before the game," van Dam said. "It will still look a little bit blotchy here and there but it will present very well.

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"The ball roll and ball speed will be fantastic so there will be no issues for fielding."

Last year's one-dayer between Australia and the West Indies was the first since the redevelopment of Manuka Oval and took place on a completely new playing surface.

"Everyone rated it a little bit slow and a little bit soft and bobbly bounce," van Dam said. "This year it's going to be completely different, it's going to be faster and firmer. "We're about two weeks away from it looking its best."

Van Dam believes it will be a "very typical Manuka pitch" – hard, bouncy and conducive to big scores, providing batsmen get their eye in.

The ICC has issued an edict to curators at Australia's international venues to provide only general information about pitches and not go into specifics to stem the tide against match-fixing before next year's World Cup.

Van Dam said he was happy to speak with officials from both the Australian and South African teams next week.

"We still talk, everyone is out there having a chat," van Dam said. "It's really not too much about how you think the pitch is going to play like.

"These players and coaches have been to many pitches around the country and the world and most have played here before and know what it's like.

"They're professionals that get paid a lot of money and they know what they see."

The general manager at Territory Venues, Liz Clarke, said ticket sales were very strong and she expected the game would be close to a sell-out.

As of Friday afternoon, tickets were still available in the Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze sections, with General Admission the only sold-out section. 

ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL: Australia v South Africa, Manuka Oval, Wednesday, November 19, 2.20pm. Tickets at Ticketek.