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India and China keen to back ACT in Big Bash

Date

Lee Gaskin

Cricket ACT chairman Ian McNamee.

Cricket ACT chairman Ian McNamee. Photo: Elesa Lee

Investors from India and China have made approaches to Cricket ACT about financially backing a Canberra team in the Big Bash League.

As the second season of the domestic Twenty20 competition started off with a bang in Melbourne on Friday night, Cricket ACT is making sure Canberra is ready to go the moment expansion is on the table.

Officials have held meetings with their Geelong counterparts as the two cities work together to strengthen their bid should Cricket Australia decide to take the tournament to new heights.

The prospect has also been raised for either the Sydney Sixers or the Thunder to bring a game to Canberra.

However, a stand-alone team is the preferred option, with Cricket ACT chairman Ian McNamee confirming there had been international interest in getting involved with a team from the national capital.

''There are people with money from overseas who are keen to get involved in Canberra,'' McNamee said. ''Already we're fielding inquires from people in India and China, but how that's structured is another thing.

''First of all we need the venue approved, secondly we need to have a Canberra-based or Canberra-named team, and the third thing is what is the structure of that team if or when it is approved.

''There are several options, and we would need to look at the business options for each of those options,'' McNamee said.

Whether the number of teams is increased from eight will depend largely on the value of the broadcast rights, with channels Seven, Nine and Ten all reportedly keen to broadcast the Big Bash League.

It has been reported that the Melbourne Stars, featuring champion leg-spinner Shane Warne, were the only team to turn a profit in the inaugural season, with several others reporting losses of about $500,000.

''I don't think [expansion] is on the agenda,'' McNamee said. ''The first year was very successful and did incur a lot of costs, as does any business when you start it up.

''If it was highly successful that would influence their move to either expand the competition where there are more games played within the eight clubs, or expand the number of teams, which is what we are hoping for.''

Canberra's bid will be boosted by the installation of lights at Manuka Oval, with the first day/night match next month.

The ACT Comets are also producing players who are catching the attention of Big Bash League franchises.

Jono and Blake Dean have earned supplementary contracts with the Melbourne Renegades, as have Mark Higgs and Ben Oakley with the Adelaide Strikers.

And there are a number of graduates from the ACT system, such as Will Sheridan (Renegades), Ryan Carters and Jason Floros (Sydney Thunder) who are on the main rosters of their respective teams.

Any Canberra team is likely to require funding from the ACT Government to get off the ground.

Sports Minister Andrew Barr said patience is required as Cricket Australia decides what the next move is.

''Certainly having the lights [at Manuka Oval] will overcome one of the more significant obstacles, but Cricket Australia are not talking expansion in the short term,'' Barr said.

''They want to get the fundamentals of the competition right, but it gives us a little bit of time to get our bid together.

''In terms of a viable option for Canberra in the medium term … we'll continue to work with Cricket ACT to ensure we're ready when the offer ultimately comes to put forward a bid.''

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