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Cricket chief: Clarke and company ideal openers for centenary

CRICKET ACT chief executive Mark Vergano says next year's historic visit from the Australian cricket team at Manuka Oval will ''set the tone'' for Canberra's bumper year of sport.

The inaugural appearance of the Australian cricket team kicks off a season of top-quality sport as part of Canberra's centenary celebrations next year.

Michael Clarke and company face the West Indies in a one-day international under the newly installed Manuka Oval lights on February 6, a game that is expected to attract a sell-out crowd.

Rugby league, rugby union, Australian football, golf and netball will carry the baton for the remainder of the year, Vergano confident the cricket will be the ideal launching pad for the sporting feast.

''It really sets the tone for the rest of the year as far as the centenary celebrations go and we believe it will set the benchmark,'' Vergano said.

''We've been very pleased with the response to the match.


''It's a fantastic showcase and a great way to get the centenary away for the year, having the Australian team in the capital for the first time.''

The one-day international is preceded by the Prime Minister's XI match on January 29, notable as the first day-night game in Canberra. It will feature recently retired great Ricky Ponting.

Golf takes centre stage when some of the premier female players in the world, including former No. 1 Karrie Webb, take to the Royal Canberra Golf Club for the women's Australian Open from February 14 to 17.

That's followed by the inaugural rugby league Test between Australia and arch rival New Zealand at Canberra Stadium on April 19, the British and Irish Lions rugby union encounter with the ACT Brumbies on June 18 and the Australian Football Hall of Fame dinner at Parliament House (date to be confirmed).

There's also a clash between netball heavyweights Australia and New Zealand at the AIS Arena and the possibility of a Socceroos international, depending on whether they qualify for the 2014 World Cup.