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Hussey hands Canberra a double farewell

The shock retirement of Michael Hussey will ''add another dimension'' to the biggest year of cricket in Canberra's history, ACT Cricket chief executive Mark Vergano says.

It took 100 years to lure the Australian side to the capital, but Canberrans face the mouth-watering prospect of farewelling two of the game's greats in the space of eight days.

While Hussey has pulled the pin on his Test career he intends to play in this summer's one-day international and Twenty20 fixtures, including the historic 50-over clash with West Indies in Canberra on February 6.

On January 29 recently retired batting great Ricky Ponting will skipper the Prime Minister's XI at Manuka Oval, the first day-night match in the city.

''I suppose it adds another dimension to the one-dayer in that sense. We get to celebrate Ricky the week before, and we get the rarest of opportunities in Canberra to do it [farewell a legend] twice,'' Vergano said on Monday.

''The game itself has sold exceptionally well and it's a great chance for people to be part of something special.


''Any great player retiring, especially one that symbolises many aspects of the Australian cricket team like grit, determination, courage and dedication to the task is going to be hard to replace.''

Hussey's decision throws open the possibility of the left-hander playing alongside Ponting for the Prime Minister's XI.

However, the 37-year-old's busy schedule may prevent him from helping farewell his former Test skipper, with Australia due to play a Twenty20 match against Sri Lanka in Melbourne the night before.

Vergano views the Prime Minister's XI and one-day fixtures as an ideal chance to prove Canberra can accommodate a Big Bash franchise.

Crowds have dwindled in the competition's second season this summer, and a strong turnout from local fans would give the Canberra bid a significant boost.

It would also enhance Canberra's chances of staging World Cup matches when the tournament is next held in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

''We have two matches reasonably close together, so if it sells well it shows [Cricket Australia] that with the right quality of product, ACT crowds will turn out twice in a week for premium events,'' Vergano said.

''That is important to us, not only the BBL but also the cricket World Cup. To get two quality matches and put on two quality shows would definitely be seen as enhancing any bid we have in the future.''


January 29: Tour match - Prime Minister's XI v West Indies at Manuka Oval, 2.20pm

February 6: Commonwealth Bank Series - Australia v West Indies at Manuka Oval, 2.20pm