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Cricket Australia opens door for Manuka Oval to have permanent international fixture

Canberra cricket fans can expect to see more matches at Manuka Oval in the next few years.

Canberra cricket fans can expect to see more matches at Manuka Oval in the next few years. Photo: Melissa Adams

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has opened the door for Manuka Oval to become a permanent part of the international cricketing landscape, and this summer shapes as an audition for future games.

Sutherland was in Canberra on Monday confirming Australia will play South Africa in a one-day international under lights at Manuka on November 19 as part of a five-game series between the sides.

Cricket South Africa requested a game in the nation's capital to help with their World Cup preparations – the Proteas will play Ireland at Manuka on March 3.

Australia will play South Africa at Manuka Oval in November.

Australia will play South Africa at Manuka Oval in November. Photo: Getty Images

It is part of a massive six months for Canberra sport – three Cricket World Cup games, Asian Cup football, a netball Test between the Aussie Diamonds and England, as well as a potential Big Bash League game.

South Africa has not played a game in Canberra since 1997 and it will be just the second time Australia will have played in Canberra – the historic first game against the West Indies was part of the capital's centenary last year.

Sutherland said the success of last year's sold-out match had opened the way for Canberra to have more international fixtures.

"Ultimately we would like to see that opportunity [of Canberra hosting regular games]," he said.

"On a season-by-season basis, it just depends on the amount of content and how many matches we've got and how we can allocate that.

"We're in the fortunate position of having our international content in demand and Canberra's presented a very, very strong case in recent times."

A possible Anzac Test between Australia and New Zealand at Manuka as part of the centenary celebrations for the Gallipoli invasion looks unlikely to be held in April as it would clash with the Indian Premier League and the Australian team's annual holidays.

With the Kiwis touring in the 2015-16 summer, there's a chance it could be held later next year, but planning for that season is yet to begin.

Cricket ACT continues to push for Big Bash and Ryobi Cup games, as well as a team in the domestic one-day competition.

There's potential for a Canberra team to be part of the Ryobi Cup next year as part of a partnership with Cricket NSW.

But authorities were remaining tight-lipped about any future content for Canberra, although Sutherland all but ruled out a historic Test in the near future.

"I don't think so ... the thing about Test cricket is it is very much about limited supply ... that's not to say if the opportunity arose we wouldn't look for the possibility of playing Test matches here, but right now it's probably unlikely," he said.

"I think every time a cricket match is played here at Manuka Oval, it's an audition for future cricket – it's an audition for Big Bash, it's an audition for Ryobi, but it's also an audition for future international cricket.

"I'd encourage cricket fans in Canberra to get in behind these matches this summer ... all of that just sends strong messages to Cricket Australia that Canberra people are serious about their cricket."

ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr still harbours hopes of a Test match in Canberra, but admitted it would need to be a big summer of cricket to be possible.

"We certainly haven't given up on a Test match for Canberra should the season scheduling support it," he said.

"But we recognise it needs at least a six-Test summer, preferably even a seventh, in some touring combination to allow that to happen.

"In a six-Test combination, it's really us competing with Tasmania."

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