Manuka Oval beefed up for historic one-day clash
Ricky Ponting says if the pitch is Manuka Oval is ready for more action. Photo: Getty Images
ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr concedes there were teething problems for Canberra's inaugural day-night cricket match, but is confident they will be rectified in time for next week's one-day international.
Manuka Oval's new lights made a sparkling debut as more than 600 runs were scored in an enthralling contest as the Ricky Ponting-led Prime Minister's XI held on to secure a 23-run victory against the West Indies on Tuesday.
The only downsides for the 9583-strong crowd were long queues to enter the ground, complaints about lines at food and beverage stands and the lack of parking around the inner-south precinct. While free shuttle buses or nearby park-and-ride stations remain the most viable transport options, Barr said there would be an increase in catering outlets at the ground for next Wednesday's ODI between the West Indies and Australia.
All tickets for the historic debut appearance of the national cricket team in Canberra have been snapped up, and a crowd of about 11,000 is tipped to pack the boutique venue.
''Overall [the Prime Minister's XI match] exceeded expectations, the crowd, the quality of the contest and how the venue stacked up,'' Barr said. ''Of course, there were some lessons to learn, but we'll certainly respond to some of the issues that have come up for next week's match, where there'll be a couple thousand more people because it's sold out.
''The number of outlets will need to increase for next week given we're going to have a bigger crowd.
''Manuka doesn't have a lot of permanent infrastructure, that will come in time when we upgrade the facilities.
''These are all issues we're looking at as part of the upgrade of the ground over time, but they can't be all done at once.''
The lights were installed at a cost of $5,347,000, of which the ACT government paid $2,847,000 and the federal government provided the rest. The plan for Manuka Oval is for the ground to be resurfaced and extra grandstands to be added to increase capacity to about 17,000.
Cricket ACT chief executive Mark Vergano said the afternoon start time, compared with the day games of previous years, had provided an ideal test run before next week's one-day international.
''One of the good things was to understand the people flow for a day-night game,'' Vergano said.
''We'll learn a lot out of this so we know what to tweak so we can deliver the best product next week.''
Prime Minister's XI captain Ricky Ponting said Manuka Oval would provide the perfect platform for regular international fixtures, once the size of the ground had been increased.
''With international cricket, it's about what happens in the middle,'' Ponting said. ''If the wicket is good and the surface is good and the ground can hold enough people, I can't see why not.
''There's a bit of redevelopment happening and capacity will go to somewhere around the 20,000 mark, they're the sort of crowds you need for international games.''