Manuka fears for depleted Aussies

Manuka fears for depleted Aussies

Cricket ACT is confident the first major sporting event of Canberra's centenary celebrations will not be a fizzer, even if national selectors opt to rest their biggest stars for the February 6 match at Manuka Oval.

Cricket Australia's decision to rest several high-profile players such as David Warner and Michael Clarke for the start of the one-day series against Sri Lanka, as well as overlooking retiring champion Mike Hussey, has prompted fears that an Australian ''B'' Team could be on its way to Canberra.

Michael Clarke has been rested from the one day side, along with several other stars, raising concerns about the calibre of side Australia will field at Manuka Oval next month.

Michael Clarke has been rested from the one day side, along with several other stars, raising concerns about the calibre of side Australia will field at Manuka Oval next month.

Photo: James Brickwood

Canberra has been underwhelmed in the past when national teams such as the Socceroos have come to town. A crowd of only 10,000 turned up when the Socceroos played Malaysia in 2011 after Australia chose to rest stars such as Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer and Harry Kewell.

Cricket ACT chief executive Mark Vergano admitted Canberra's fate was ''in the hands of the national selectors'' when it came to what Australian team would run out against the West Indies for the historic occasion.

But after a 100-year wait for the Australian cricket team to play in Canberra, and the match all but a sell-out, Vergano said the event would live up to expectations.


''The popularity of the match itself and the historic nature of it has driven sales for the one-day international, which we're obviously very pleased about,'' Vergano said. ''The event has really driven the sales at this point in time to such an extent that it's pretty much a full house.

''Whichever players they're putting on the field, it's an attractive team with plenty of personality and the fact that they're in Australian colours, literally, is exciting, and it's an exciting way to start the centenary for us.''

While admitting it would be great to have the hard-hitting Warner play, he said there are enough good players from both teams to keep anyone happy.

The Windies could boast modern-day master blaster Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and, if fit, the controversial Marlon Samuels.

Canberra Comets coach Mark Higgs disagreed the team picked by Cricket Australia was a B side.

He said the Australian side was renewing after the retirements of Ponting and Hussey, but still had plenty of international experience.

Higgs said resting players now could actually increase Canberra's chances of seeing a fully fit Australian line-up. After a short rest he expected the likes of Warner to be even more devastating.

''You need to be refreshed to keep your hunger to get big runs as well,'' Higgs said. ''It's easy when you get on cricket tours for one game to turn into the next and it's good to get away and freshen up a bit.''

He conceded it would be better for Canberra cricket fans if all the big names did play in the one-dayer.

Warner's ability to tear bowling attacks apart in a blink has thrilled crowds around the world since he burst onto the domestic scene.

Higgs thought the retiring Hussey should be part of the squad as he still considered him in the best XI in the country - which was what the Australian team was meant to be.

''It'd be fantastic if [Warner, Hussey and Brad Haddin] were [playing], but it's not the end of the world if they don't,'' he said. ''I'm sure the Australian team's going to be strong anyway. I think it's a changing time in the Australian team anyway.''

The Australia-West Indies one-dayer is part of Canberra's centenary celebrations and comes a week after the annual Prime Minister's XI game - also against the West Indies.

Most Viewed in Sport


Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

By signing up you accept our privacy policy and conditions of use