Canberra still in the Test match mix
Manuka Oval is ready to host a Test match. Photo: Rohan Thomson
ACT SPORTS Minister Andrew Barr says bringing Test cricket to Canberra is a realistic goal, but it won't be at the expense of Tasmania.
Strong turnouts for last week's Prime Minister's XI game and a sellout for Wednesday's one-day international has shown there's an appetite for elite cricket at Manuka Oval.
Barr had previously stated a Canberra Test match would draw bigger crowds than a match in Hobart, however he's confident both can be accommodated in the international schedule in future years.
''It's been made pretty clear it's not a contest between the ACT and Tasmania,'' Barr said.
''We need to make our case, not by comparing ourselves to Tasmania but by putting forward what we can offer as a viable venue in our own right.
''The key for us is to continue to work with Cricket ACT and Cricket NSW to ensure there's high quality matches in the lead-up to the cricket World Cup [in 2015].''
Hobart's future as a Test match venue came under scrutiny after lower-than-expected crowds for the Sri Lanka match at Blundstone Arena.
More than 9500 attended the first game under lights in Canberra last Tuesday when the PM's XI beat the West Indies by 23 runs.
A capacity crowd of more than 11,000 for the inaugural visit of the Australian team in the ODI on Wednesday will only strengthen Canberra's claims to earn a permanent place on the international calendar.
The match with the Windies has been made possible as part of city's Centenary Celebrations, and because it's one of 10 one-dayers the Australian team will play this summer.
That won't be the case next year when there's only a five-match ODI series with England after the five Ashes Tests.
Canberra is in the running to host games in the 2015 World Cup.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Canberra would be considered for international fixtures, but only when it wouldn't impact on the traditional venues.
''It will always depend on the amount of cricket we have on our schedule and how that's shared among each of the states,'' Sutherland said.
''There's nothing in the forseeable future [for Canberra]. When we do have plentiful content, then it may well be there are more opportunities.
''With the lights and the magnificent facilities at Manuka Oval, the likelihood only increases.''
Cricket ACT is in negotiations for one of the Sydney Big Bash League teams to bring a game to Canberra next season, while NSW will play a Ryobi Cup one-day game under lights at Manuka Oval.
As for the ultimate goal of Canberra entering a team into the domestic Twenty20 competition, Sutherland said expansion was firmly on the backburner.
''We'd love to be in a position to look at expansion, but it's premature at the moment as we bed down the initial stages of the Big Bash League,'' he said. ''There's still some teething problems in the Melbourne and Sydney markets where we have two teams, and that's our main focus.''