License article

Saturday Serve: Cricket Australia must bring a Canberra Test to Manuka Oval

The late, great David Hookes once said when a cricketer makes his debut for NSW he's given a baggy green in a brown paper bag as well - just so they don't need to have two presentations.

For years the rest of Australia's cricketing landscape has pointed out the sense of entitlement that appears to enshroud cricket in NSW.

But it seems automatic national selection isn't enough for the Blue Baggers. Now they expect to be given an even bigger paper bag as well, this time containing a second Test match at the SCG.

Apparently, one per summer isn't enough for the state that produces more Australian cricketers than any other.

Apparently, they now need a day-night Test and they couldn't possibly use their traditional New Year Test for that now could they. It just wouldn't be fair.

Not to be outdone, the Victorians were jumping up and down demanding a second Test match of their own, almost before SCG Trust chairman Tony Shepherd had finished stating his case for doubling up in the Harbour City.


I mean Melbourne is the sporting capital of the world after all aren't they, just ask them.

But it would be a massive backwards step for Aussie cricket if either of those grounds hosted two Tests next summer.

A return to the old days when the powerful states of NSW and Victoria ruled the roost.

Cricket Australia claims it wants to share the love with as many states and capital cities as it can.

If that's the case, then why hasn't it come out and dismissed the SCG and MCG's claims on hosting two of next summer's six Tests?

Because the almighty dollar speaks. Or as CA might say, they're open minded.

Now there's no doubting two Tests at the MCG would bring in a bucket-load of cash for CA, but can the same be said of the SCG?

CA's hip pocket will be feeling a little light after this week's bore-draw in Sydney where less than two days' play was managed.

Sure that was largely due to the weather, but can they be confident of packing out two Tests in the Harbour City - where they are, to be polite, not the best supporters of sport in this country.

More people showed up to the first day of the Adelaide Test than they did in Sydney.

Even if it is just about money, then holding the first-ever Test at Manuka Oval next season is a no brainer.

Given the historic nature of bringing a Test to Canberra, Cricket ACT is confident of selling out the first day if Manuka was given the nod, with similarly big crowds in the following two days.

The same can't be said for Hobart, Perth and Brisbane, where the people have emphatically voted with their feet by not turning up. It seems they hate Test cricket.

Just 15,343 showed up for the three days of the Tassie Test - a figure Canberra would expect to almost match on day one given Manuka's capacity of about 11,000.

The Gabba drew 16,181 for day one of its Test this summer, while 13,593 turned up at the WACA Ground's first day. They're pretty poor efforts given the much bigger populations of those cities.

All Hobart, Perth and Brisbane care about is the bash and crash of Twenty20 and all the shiny baubles that come with it. 

The attendances at those grounds have all been significantly bigger for Big Bash League games.

In contrast, over the past three years, Canberra has shown it has a voracious appetite for all forms of cricket - put it on and they will come.

One-day internationals sold out. Big Bash League final full house. The obvious next step is a Test. Even Shepherd has backed Canberra as a Test venue

CA will undertake an extensive review of this summer's program once the final ball has been bowled and then it will start looking at 2016-17, with a final Test schedule not expected until some time during the winter.

But when it does sit down and start plotting it out, if it is at all interested in doing what's best for the game, then Manuka is a must.

Actually, maybe Sydney does deserve a second Test. Why not give Victoria two as well.

With both South Africa and Pakistan both coming out for three-Test series next summer there's plenty to go around.

Two at the SCG and two more at the 'G - that still leaves two for the rest of the country.

Given Adelaide Oval is the official home of day-night Tests, you can crayon them in for one of those, which leaves the lucky last for Canberra.

The three states missing out won't even notice, they'll be too busy watching the BBL.