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Manuka Oval sellout looms as past and future stars turn out for PM's XI

Two Australian cricket veterans, the first sellout crowd in almost a decade and a prelude to hosting the Big Bash League - next week's Prime Minister's XI looms as one of the biggest in the fixture's history.

Cricket ACT is set to cash in on Australia's Ashes success with just 240 tickets left for the PM's XI match against England at Manuka Oval on January 14.

Cricket Australia officials will finalise the line-up on Wednesday, Australian cricket great Greg Chappell declaring the team will ''showcase the names of the future''.

With less than a week before the revamped Manuka Oval is put in the spotlight:

■ Big-hitting veteran Brad Hodge is set to bolster the PM's XI as he continues his bid to be picked for Australia's Twenty20 World Cup team.

■ Tickets have almost sold out, with Cricket ACT to release limited seats in preparation for a sellout of 13,000 for the first time since England played in Canberra in 2006.


■ Cricket ACT officials will meet Cricket Australia at the game to discuss Canberra's future on the international calendar.

■ Cricket NSW has an in-principle agreement for the Sydney Thunder to play a Big Bash Twenty20 game at Manuka Oval next season.

Semi-retired Australian great Brett Lee will lead the PM's XI into action a week after England was embarrassed in a 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

Hodge, 39, is playing in the Big Bash with the Melbourne Stars and his form has been so good he could be considered to play for Australia at the Twenty20 World Cup in March.

He smashed 64 from just 36 balls last week and has been a freelance Twenty20 player around the world for the past two years since retiring from Australia's domestic competitions.

It is understood the Melbourne Stars and Adelaide Strikers will make up the bulk of the PM's XI side because of scheduling clashes with the Big Bash.

Cricket Australia's national talent manager and former Australian captain Greg Chappell said the PM's XI was a platform for rising stars to impress selectors.

''The PM's is a multi-platform game, it's a chance to showcase the names of the future,'' Chappell said.

''It's also an opportunity to give players a farewell or another lap around for recognition for what they've achieved.

''But it's also a spectacle and there will be faces of the past and the future.''

Cricket ACT and ACT government officials were supposed to meet with Cricket Australia at the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney on Monday.

But because the Test finished on Sunday, the meeting has been postponed until next week.

ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr said the University of Canberra's sponsorship of the Sydney Thunder opened the way for the BBL franchise to play games at Manuka Oval.

''What we're working towards is Big Bash matches in Canberra, so the Thunder would be the home team,'' Barr said on Monday. ''Obviously the exact announcements of particular fixtures will come in due course, but I think it's fair to say there's an in-principle agreement that that's a particular goal to work towards.

''But we'll also want to look at other cricket opportunities, be that Ryobi Cup and [Sheffield] Shield cricket and international matches, but that's more the subject of conversations with Cricket Australia.''

The ACT government wants Manuka Oval to be considered the second venue in NSW and the ACT behind the SCG.

Despite England's horror summer, tickets have been selling fast for the PM's XI fixture. Cricket ACT will release more public tickets next week for the first match at Manuka Oval since the ground was redeveloped. Capacity has been increased to 13,000 for cricket matches and 15,000 for AFL.


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