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Manuka to host three cricket World Cup matches

Ireland's victory over England at the 2011 cricket World Cup was the boilover of the tournament and Canberra could be the scene of its next big scalp on the world stage.

Ireland is drawn to play South Africa in a day-night game at Manuka Oval in the initial pool games. It's one of three games Canberra will host, along with two-time winner West Indies against Zimbabwe, and Bangladesh versus a yet-to-be-determined qualifier.

The ACT government and Cricket ACT were pleased with the draw. Neither were upset Australia won't be playing here, saying that was never a realistic option.

Cricket ACT chief executive Mark Vergano was pleased with Canberra's allocation of games, which will potentially bring West Indies master blaster Chris Gayle back to one of his happiest hunting grounds. Gayle smashed 146 off just 89 balls in a total of 399 from 45 overs in the Prime Minister's XI game in 2010.

''We've got an outstanding coterie of games - Ireland beat England at the last World Cup, here they are playing South Africa in our backyard,'' Vergano said.

''They've been very steady performers and if you have a look at their team now, about five or six of them are playing county cricket regularly.''


ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr said the next step for Manuka was to host a Test match.

Australia played in Canberra for the first time in February, taking on the West Indies under lights as part of the city's centenary.

Barr said that clash was the audition for future games in the ACT, which was passed with flying colours. Canberra only hosted one game during the 1992 World Cup.

It showed the ''journey'' the ACT had made since then. The ground has had its surface torn up to install drainage, along with additional seating, which will take the capacity to about 15,500. Lights have also been installed.

Barr said being able to host AFL games, along with high quality cricket, had played an important role in bringing Manuka's facilities up to scratch. The ground's smaller capacity, in comparison with other capital cities, made it the ideal venue for games involving some of the smaller nations.

''The Big Bash League, bringing Twenty20 cricket to Canberra in the summer, is on the list,'' he said, adding he would like an extra AFL game at the ground.

''Longer term, the ambition for the Test match will continue to burn bright for cricket fans across the region.''