Manuka Magic: David Boon crushes calypso kings
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Manuka Magic: David Boon crushes calypso kings

It was one of the greatest Prime Minister's XI squads ever assembled. Names like Lillee, Thomson, Chappell, Hughes and Matthews graced the team sheet.

But the one the all-conquering West Indies were left fearing the most was that of an uncapped, pugnacious batsman from Tasmania: David Boon.

David Boon in action against West Indies at Manuka Oval.

David Boon in action against West Indies at Manuka Oval.

A 23-year-old Boon's stellar 134 (136) for the Prime Minister's XI to inspire a win over the West Indies in 1984 is one of Manuka Oval's most memorable moments.

Boon's effort comes in at No. 9 on the countdown of memorable Manuka moments, which coincides with the countdown to the first Test in the venue's rich history.

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The record-shattering knock left Michael Holding and Joel Garner in dismay as the Caribbean superstars struggled to find an answer to this determined right-hander at first-drop.

It gave legitimacy to the Prime Minister's XI as it put his name on the radar of Australia selectors, and Boon would play the first of his 107 Tests later that year against the calypso kings.

Boon quickly developed into a cult hero in an era boasting plenty of them, becoming a vital ingredient in Australia's resurgence as a cricketing force in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

When someone who has been attending Prime Minister's XI games since the early days in the 1950s says it is the best knock they've ever seen in the fixture, you've got to be doing something right.

Former Cricket ACT chairman Ian McNamee once labelled Boon's innings better than Chris Gayle and Tom Cooper's record-breaking centuries in 2010.

Considering that praise came just days after Glenn Maxwell blasted 139 from 86 balls in reply to Englishman Ian Bell's 145-ball 187 in 2015, Boon's effort was clearly something special.

Not just for the pace at which he scored a dazzling hundred, but for who it came against in a showing which launched his Test career.

David Boon became a fixture of Australia's XI.

David Boon became a fixture of Australia's XI.

"I would have thought that innings of David Boon's against such a great West Indian attack was very, very significant," McNamee once said.

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"It certainly had a lot to do with his career. It was a great innings."

Not only did Boon's innings kickstart his storied Test career, it helped catapult the Prime Minister's XI into the public eye after a 19-year hiatus.

The fixture marked the return of the Prime Minister's XI to the cricket calendar and its success helped to convert the contest into an annual affair.

It quickly became Canberra cricket's showpiece event. Thirty-five years later, punters are hoping another landmark fixture can become a constant on the calendar.

The Canberra Times is counting down 11 magical Manuka Oval cricket moments ahead of an historic Test match between Australia and Sri Lanka on February 1.

Got a magic Manuka memory that should be on the list? Let us know at sport@canberratimes.com.au

THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR

No. 11: Prime Minister's XI launch Ashes mania

No. 10: Tom Cooper can't stop Gayle force winds

No. 9: David Boon crushes calypso kings

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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