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CA issues challenge to cricket in ACT

Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland says Canberrans should treat the inaugural visit of the Australian team like it's the last, to prove the demand for elite cricket is genuine.

Whether Wednesday's one-day international with the West Indies is a one-off or the start of Canberra's elevation to the international schedule is the million-dollar question.

Sutherland couldn't guarantee Canberra's regular status given the limited number of elite matches, but said it was up to the public to prove they wanted more.

''I think there is a chance, and the big thing I would say for cricket fans in Canberra is to get behind this like it is the last,'' Sutherland said.

''The more people get behind it, the more positive message it sends about the appetite for more.''

There was never any doubt a capacity crowd of 11,000 would greet Michael Clarke and company at the revamped Manuka Oval to end a 100-year absence from the national capital, even on a weekday.


What needs to be determined is if that can be sustained, or if the popularity is focused around the novelty factor of the historic nature of the game. Even if the desire is there from the public, Cricket Australia will need to be convinced it's financially viable to take a game away from one of its traditional venues on a regular basis.

This year was a no-brainer, given it was Canberra's Centenary and cricket had the chance to open the sporting extravaganza.

Initial approaches were made to Cricket Australia six years ago.

But to secure the game at the expense of one of the traditional venues, the ACT Government was required to pay the South Australian Cricket Association about $300,000 as compensation to take the match away from the Adelaide Oval.

In total, the government has tipped in $591,000 to cover expenses, such as event marketing and costs relating to erecting temporary broadcasting facilities, the two teams and extra security and cleaning at the ground.

It will be the second appearance of the state-of-the-art lights at Manuka Oval, which were unveiled at last week's Prime Minister's XI game, played in front of a strong crowd of just over 9500.

The federal government chipped in $2.5 million of the total $5.347 million cost of the lights, with the ACT Government paying the rest, aiding Cricket ACT's bid to host games in the 2015 World Cup.

Wednesday's attendance could top the crowd of just over 11,000 who showed up for Sunday's one-day international in Perth, in circumstances not ideal for attracting a strong crowd. It was the second game at the WACA Ground in three days, was played in 38-degree heat, and came after the West Indies were bowled out for a paltry 70 in the opening game.

''There's no doubt from a Cricket Australia perspective we look at programming in such a way that we try to share matches around the country,'' Sutherland said.

''We're wanting to get strong economic returns and we're looking for ways in which local communities embrace matches.

''There's no doubt a strong showing from the Canberra cricket community are good things to demonstrate the enthusiasm for more matches.

''There's no doubt the lights provide a significant asset for matches to be played in Canberra down the track.

''We do know in 2014-15 we've got a big summer of cricket coming up, including a World Cup.

''Those in Cricket ACT and the ACT government are aware that provides another chance for international cricket to be played in Canberra.''