SCG Trust chairman Tony Shepherd backs Manuka Oval as Test venue

The man whose comments sparked a Test tug-of-war says Manuka Oval has "every chance in the world" to host an historic first Test match next summer, while Cricket ACT believes Canberra and Hobart should share Tests going forward.

SCG Trust chairman Tony Shepherd caused a mad scramble from Australia's cricketing venues this week when he suggested the SCG should have two Test matches next summer, with one a day-nighter. That prompted the MCG to quickly put up its hand for two Tests as well.

Stirring the pot: SCG Trust chairman Tony Shepherd says Manuka Oval still has strong claims to host a Test.
Stirring the pot: SCG Trust chairman Tony Shepherd says Manuka Oval still has strong claims to host a Test. Photo: Arsineh Houspian

But Shepherd said his comments were "just a bit of fun ... to stir them up a bit" and it would be Cricket Australia's call as to who hosted the six Test matches scheduled for next summer - three against South Africa and three against Pakistan.

He said it would be a decision between taking the game to regional areas or focusing on the money.

Traditionally Tasmania has hosted the sixth Test in a summer, but poor crowds at Hobart in recent years opened the door for Canberra to host its first ever Test.

It is not the first time Shepherd has raised the ire of Canberra - he was the chairman of the National Commission of Audit, which recommended up to 25,000 public servants lose their jobs in 2014.


But he said he had a "soft spot for Canberra" and backed Manuka Oval as a venue.

As Greater Western Sydney chairman, Shepherd is a regular at the ground when the Giants play AFL games there.

"I think Canberra's got good claims to it, so I'm not for one second going to get into a Canberra-versus-Sydney thing. I just made the point if they wanted to have it in Sydney we'd be more than happy to have it, but it's up to [Cricket Australia] to make the decision as to which way they want to go," he said.

"I don't think anybody is going to start any sort of bidding war. Cricket Australia has indicated it would like to look after the regional centres a bit more, so I think Manuka's got every chance in the world."

Cricket ACT chief executive Cameron French felt bringing Test cricket to Canberra was in the best interests of growing the game.

He said Canberra was not the only place that would benefit, but southern NSW would also be serviced by holding the longest form of the game at Manuka.

French and Cricket ACT have been careful to avoid a war of words with Cricket Tasmania over the sixth Test, despite Cricket Australia director Tony Harrison labelling Canberrans "fat cat bureaucrats", but he felt sharing was the way forward.

While attendances have been poor in Hobart, he was confident Manuka would sell out if given the chance.

The numbers back him up, with the Big Bash League final, one-day internationals and World Cup games all drawing big Canberra crowds.

The one-day international between Australia and India at Manuka on January 20 was also tracking towards selling out.

"We don't see a Test at Manuka just as a Test for the people of the ACT, but it's also really for the people of country NSW - the Riverina, South Coast, Bathurst, Orange those sort of locations," French said.

"I think spreading it around the country makes a lot of sense and we feel like the Canberra community over the past three years have been really supportive of any content that Cricket Australia's brought to the capital.

"What makes sense is Canberra and Hobart alternating year on year for Tests and maybe one-day content."