Manuka's route to the elite level
Former Australian cricketers Dean Jones, left, and Michael Bevan, right, at the launch of the Crace Recreational Park.
CANBERRA needs to gain entry to one of Australia's premier cricket competitions before Manuka Oval can become a regular fixture on the international calendar, one-day great Michael Bevan says.
Manuka Oval will host the Australian cricket team for the first time when it plays the West Indies on February 6 as part of the capital's centenary celebrations.
Lights will be installed at the ground within the next month and the ACT government has committed to ongoing upgrades.
Cricket ACT hopes that will help attract more international fixtures in the coming years.
Bevan - a Canberra junior who went on to play 18 Tests and 232 one-day internationals for Australia - is keen to see Manuka host more matches. But he believes the capital needs to join the Twenty20 Big Bash League before it can become a permanent addition to the international calendar.
''It's a great thing for the Canberra public and cricket supporters to have an international game here,'' Bevan said.
''It's a good initiative and I'd like to see a lot of people get there because the facilities are good and there are no downsides. It's about is it feasible to continually host [the Australian team] and where does Canberra sit in the long-term objectives of Cricket Australia.
''I would think there's some opportunity to develop … it's definitely possible and doable to be more regular. But I think it has to be in conjunction with a Big Bash team, or something to engage the cricket public to come.''
Bevan was in Canberra on Saturday to play in a celebrity match that also included Australian legend Dean Jones, Olympic sprinter Melissa Breen and Raiders halfback Sam Williams.
The match was Bevan's ''once-a-year'' chance to play and he led his team to victory over Jones.
It was also an opportunity for Bevan to return to the capital and open the Crace Recreation Park.
Bevan was inducted into the ACTSport Hall of Fame last month, but was unable to attend the presentation. He built his career on being one of the best one-day international players in the world.
Despite the Australian Test team struggling on the opening day of its clash with South Africa, Bevan backed Michael Clarke's side to challenge the world's best team.
''It looked like South Africa were pretty impressive, the batters were compact and there wasn't much the Australians threw at them that they couldn't handle. The Aussies are going to have to play their very best to match them,'' he said.
''I don't know about it being a long summer. The Australians are challenging themselves and there's a certain phase of rebuilding going on. There's a lot of bowling talent.''