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Chairman's XI fixtures not in doubt despite Sri Lanka's lunch call

Date

Lee Gaskin

Patrons were denied two sessions of the Chairman's XI versus Sri Lanka match at Manuka Oval.

Patrons were denied two sessions of the Chairman's XI versus Sri Lanka match at Manuka Oval. Photo: Brendon Thorne

Cricket ACT chief executive Mark Vergano has defended the credibility of the Chairman's XI match in Canberra after play was abandoned with two sessions remaining on the final day.

Having gained what they needed out of the warm-up fixture, Sri Lanka requested to finish the match at lunch on Saturday with the score at 6-396 in response to the Chairman's XI total of 6-439.

Spectators were informed of the decision on Saturday morning, with the gates thrown open and refunds honoured for pre-purchased tickets.

It was Sri Lanka's first and only hit-out before the first Test against Australia in Hobart, starting next Friday.

The match with the Chairman's XI was not a first-class game, with the playing conditions stating each team could rotate 12-player squads and had to retire after 100 overs were bowled.

The Chairman's XI did exactly that on a batsman-friendly pitch, while Sri Lanka had batted for 109 overs in its first and ultimately only innings when it was agreed to call off the game.

Vergano admitted stopping the match prematurely on a Saturday wasn't ideal, but spectators would have always known it was a possibility given the playing conditions.

''Saturday is a traditionally better-drawing day, but it is what it is,'' Vergano said.

''It's a non first-class game and is advertised as such. It is what it is for touring sides - it's their opening tour match. Other states have hosted them.

''It's a promotional tool and keeps Manuka Oval front and centre on the map.''

Sri Lanka's visit was spruiked as part of the ACT's ''Summer of Cricket'', which includes the recent Sheffield Shield and Ryobi Cup matches between NSW and Queensland, the historic day/night Prime Minister's XI game with the West Indies in January and February's one-day international featuring Australia and the Windies.

Next year's Chairman's XI game with England has been confirmed as a two-day encounter.

The length of the annual fixture is understood to be at the discretion of the touring team.

Cricket ACT isn't expected to be burdened with any significant financial losses as a result of the early finish.

The Chairman's XI comprised a youthful squad of up-and-coming players and included Australian representatives Usman Khawaja and Twenty20 dynamo Glenn Maxwell.

However, Khawaja was withdrawn from the final day to join the Sydney Thunder for Saturday night's Big Bash League match with the Sydney Sixers, with ACT Comets captain Jono Dean called in as his replacement.

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