Cricket in the spotlight
Year in Review
Steve Luby's story proved inspirational. Photo: Melissa Adams
Welcome to Canberra's day-night cricket revolution.
Many will say it's long overdue, but the installation of lights as part of an extensive makeover of Manuka Oval is the biggest step forward in Canberra's ambitions to become a major player at the elite level.
The majority of the six 47-metre towers were installed this month, with the remaining ones ready to be unveiled in time for the much-hyped Prime Minister's XI match with the West Indies on January 29, which will feature as the final international game of retiring great Ricky Ponting.
Australia's leading run-scorer in Test cricket history will captain the PM's XI against the reigning Twenty20 world champions.
Master blaster Chris Gayle will have an encore performance a week later in the first visit to Canberra by the Australian cricket team. Michael Clarke and company will take on the Windies on February 6 in what promises to be a sold-out one-day international, hosted as part of Canberra's Centenary celebrations.
Confirmation of an $8.5 million investment for the lights - which cost $5.347 million, with $2.5 million of that coming from the federal government - and upgrades to increase capacity at Manuka Oval to 19,000 in the ACT budget in June, led to the ACT government starting planning on Canberra becoming a host city for the 2015 cricket World Cup.
Next year's Ryobi Cup match between New South Wales and Queensland is to be a day-nighter, while having the lights means Manuka Oval is ready to be a Twenty20 Big Bash League venue.
Cricket ACT is eager to have a Canberra team if expansion is on the table, while it is also open to bringing other games to Canberra in the meantime.
This year's taste of top-class action was hit and miss.
Cricket ACT faced a six-figure financial black hole after the PM's XI match with Sri Lanka in February was washed out without a ball being bowled.
The tourists returned in December for a three-day match with a Chairman's XI.
While fans got to see star batting trio Tillekaratne Dilshan, who carved out a classy hundred, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara tune up for the Test series, it came to a farcical end when both sides agreed to call the game off with two sessions remaining.
Traditionalists got their helping of first-class cricket when NSW edged out Queensland in a three-wicket thriller in November.
While it was the regular low crowds seen across the country in the Sheffield Shield, those who did show up witnessed a quality game, late inclusion Sean Abbott hitting the winning runs as the Blues struggled to chase down 97 on the final day.
Queensland got its revenge in the Ryobi Cup one-day game a couple of days later, holding on for a 30-run victory despite the late heroics of Blues batsman Ben Rohrer.
Wests fourth-grade bowler Steve Luby wrote his name into the history books by taking all 10 wickets in an innings in February.
In Test cricket, it is a feat only achieved twice in history.
On a sadder note, the Tuggeranong club was rocked when popular stalwart Glenn Thornton suffered a fatal heart attack during a lower-grade game in October. His son Sam showed incredible mental strength to score a match-winning century for the Tuggeranong first-grade team in December.
Queanbeyan recorded a clean sweep of all three trophies in the 2011-12 summer, taking out the Twenty20, one-day and two-day competitions.
The news wasn't as good for the ACT Comets, finishing bottom of the ladder in the Futures League last summer, but they have bounced back to be second on the ladder with one round to go.
Four players earned supplementary Big Bash League contracts - veteran all-rounder Mark Higgs and left-arm paceman Ben Oakley with the Adelaide Strikers, and brothers Jono and Blake Dean with the Melbourne Renegades.
The ACT Meteors finished third and fifth in Twenty20 and 50-over Women's National Cricket League competitions and appointed a new coach, ACT Cricket high performance director Andrew Dawson.