Fussy ... James Sutherland. Photo: Getty Images
A ''fussy'' Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland leaves Canberra feeling short-changed by 1500 people.
Sutherland was expecting a crowd of 13,000, more than the 11,548 sell-out crowd at Manuka Oval on Wednesday night, with ACT authorities claiming he simply had his numbers mixed up.
Due to various seating arrangements and the presence of scoreboards, AFL games have a capacity of about 13,500.
A full-house sign was put up at Manuka for the historic first visit of the Australian cricket team to the nation's capital for a one-day, day-night game against the West Indies.
And the CA boss was full of praise for everything - the new lights, the batsman-friendly pitch, the billiard-table outfield and the wonderful atmosphere - but he admitted to being underwhelmed by the final crowd figure.
''I thought the way in which the people of Canberra got behind the event, not just the people in the crowd but others leading up to it, it was a good week for cricket in Canberra with the PM's XI the week before, turning the lights on, we were thrilled with it,'' Sutherland told The Canberra Times.
''To be really fussy the attendance was a little bit behind what we had budgeted, I'm not sure what the reason for that was … that was the only thing that was a bit of a dampener, but overall it was fantastic. We had expectations of 13,000.''
A planned redevelopment of the oval is expected to increase capacity to 19,000, but that won't be complete until 2017-18.
But Territory Venues general manager Neale Guthrie said 11,500 was always going to be the capacity for Wednesday night.
''I can tell you now, absolutely every single ticket was sold, and lots of them before Christmas, the capacity for the ground for AFL is 13,500 and you would have seen there was a number of seat kills from the sight screens, also the extra corporate areas also contribute to a little reduction in footprint for people … I think James just got himself confused with some other number,'' Guthrie said.
Sutherland ruled out any international cricket action in the ACT next summer with the English team coming to Australia to contest the Ashes, but said Manuka was still a possible venue for the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
He said that would be in the hands of the organising committee to decide which venues would host which games.
While Sutherland had a slight qualm with the crowd figure, Manuka has attracted nothing but praise from all quarters.
Australia's cricket captain Michael Clarke backed the ground as world class, while Greater Western Sydney had nothing but praise for the oval it will inherit for four AFL games over the winter.
Clarke had contacted Queanbeyan product and former teammate Brad Haddin about the ground on his way to Canberra and loved what he saw.
''I think conditions were fantastic for one-day cricket,'' Clarke said.
''I think the people of Canberra have come out to support us, which is really positive. We always love the more support we can get as an Australian cricket team.''
Giants chief executive David Matthews and coach Kevin Sheedy were both in town to not only see the new lights in all their glory, but also to look for a naming rights sponsor for home games at Manuka Oval.
Matthews openly called for CA to ensure the historic ODI wasn't a one-off event.
''This is a place that deserves top-quality sport,'' he said.
The Giants play Essendon, which Sheedy coached for 27 years before taking over the reins at GWS, under lights in the third round of the NAB Cup at Manuka on March 8.
They will also play St Kilda, Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs in Canberra in the season proper.