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Cricket coup started with John Howard chat

Seven years after the idea was raised with John Howard, the most prestigious team in Australian sport is coming to Canberra.

The former prime minister, and this country's most well-known cricket tragic, met with Cricket ACT in 2005 to discuss the possibility of the Australian cricket team gracing picturesque Manuka Oval.

A Test match was always the preferred format.

But yesterday's announcement of a one-day international against either Sri Lanka or the West Indies in late January or early February next year is still a vast improvement on the fixtures dealt out in previous years.

Last summer was the largest dose of top-class cricket the capital had received.

Two Chairman's XI tour games against India, the annual Prime Minister's XI match and a Sheffield Shield and Ryobi Cup game between NSW and Tasmania set the bar high heading into next year's centenary celebrations.


The Prime Minister's XI match is set to be retained, the Blues are in the second year of a three-year deal while discussions are continuing to replicate the Chairman's XI match as a warm-up for the touring side ahead of the Boxing Day Test.

Add to that the first visit by Michael Clarke's Australians - the top-ranked team in the world in the 50-over format - and it equals to a bumper summer of cricket. One which has taken seven long years to come to fruition, Cricket ACT chief executive Mark Vergano said.

''We met with then prime minister John Howard about having a centenary match in 2005 and he was very enthusiastic,'' Vergano said.

''It certainly appealed to him but it was a long way out.

''The original concept was looking for a Test match but in the current context it's very difficult with the content that's around.

''We've been flexible, but what's important is we've got the No.1-rated team in the world in the one-day format playing at Manuka Oval.''

Cricket ACT will hold a festival of cricket to coincide with the Australian team's historic visit, one which promises to feed down to the grassroots.

''It generates great goodwill, it generates enthusiasm and it generates great publicity,'' Vergano said.

''From junior cricket to senior cricket to the fans who will benefit from it.

''The promotion and the interaction of it means we can build around it with the festival of cricket.''