Prime Minister's XI captain Brett Lee. Photo: Jay Cronan
The Prime Minister’s XI game continues to have relevance as a showcase of Australia’s future stars despite being heavily affected by the Big Bash League, Cricket ACT chief executive Mark Vergano says.
Fast bowling great Brett Lee will captain a PM’s XI side featuring five players who have represented their country at senior level in Tuesday’s one-day match with England at Manuka Oval.
Officials are expecting a capacity crowd of close to 12,500 for the annual encounter, which is the only international game in Canberra this summer.
The PM’s XI team has been selected to have as little impact as possible on the BBL and contains just four specialist batsmen.
Apart from Lee, who plays for the Sydney Sixers, and Canberra representative Michael Spaseski, the remainder of the side is from either the Melbourne Stars or the Brisbane Heat.
The Heat’s next game isn’t until January 18, while the Stars aren’t back in action until January 21 when they host the Hobart Hurricanes at the MCG.
Vergano said the PM’s XI fixture remained an important match on the calendar and doubled as a celebration of Australian cricket.
‘‘Everyone understands that cricket has its challenges at this time of year with player availability,’’ Vergano said.
‘‘When you look at a team that has five internationals, it’s probably got more internationals than PM’s XI teams in recent years.
‘‘It’s doing the function that it’s always done – we’re saying thank you to a legend and we’ve got the up-and-coming players to show their wares.’’
Lee leads a PM’s XI team including Brad Hodge, Jackson Bird, Ben Cutting and Luke Pomersbach.
Hodge is one of the unluckiest players in Australian cricket history, playing just six Tests despite scoring more than 500 runs including a double-century.
At 39, his strong form for the Stars has led to calls for him to play in the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in March and April.
Three-Test paceman Bird is in the running for the upcoming tour to South Africa after making an impressive comeback from a serious back injury, while Cutting and Pomersbach have represented Australia at one-day and T20 level.
Brisbane Heat batsman Chris Lynn is on the national radar after some big hitting, while Alister McDermott, son of fiery quick Craig McDermott, returns to the team for the second straight year.
Several emerging players who could have come into consideration for the PM’s XI team include Perth Scorchers all-rounder Mitchell Marsh (age 22) and Sydney Sixers batsmen Nic Maddinson (22) and Jordan Silk (21).
Silk has made four centuries in 11 Sheffield Shield games for Tasmania and is one of the rising stars of Australian cricket, while Marsh (four ODIs and three T20 internationals) and Maddinson (one T20 international) have already been capped in the national team.
A limited amount of tickets for the game will be released on Ticketek on Monday and Tuesday.