Kyle Mackey-Laws August 08, 2012
It's fast becoming the greatest summer of cricket in the capital. Ever.
Cricket ACT locked two more matches into an already buzzing calendar of domestic and international cricket yesterday, with the Queensland Bulls to play NSW in a Sheffield Shield match in late November before backing up for a one-day clash on December 2.
It means Canberra will host five first-class matches this summer, highlighted by the first ever appearance by an Australian national side at Manuka Oval.
Discussions are also being held for the ACT Comets to host Twenty20 side Sydney Sixers in a warm-up match prior to the Big Bash League. If that eventuates, the matches could be a trial for a possible Big Bash League team in Canberra.
And with the ACT Comets involved in the Futures League and the ACT Meteors playing in the women's competitions, this summer's calendar is arguably the busiest and most talent filled in history.
Comets coach Mark Higgs said this summer's cricket feast was the best he'd seen.
''Any time you get the Australian team playing Canberra it turns into a massive summer,'' Higgs said.
''But also, with the Chairman's XI, you can call that basically the Australia A side, and the PM's XI, which is basically the best young products in Australia, we've got all that coming to Canberra. It's a great summer.''
Cricket ACT boss Mark Vergano echoed Higgs's praise, saying the magnitude of the matches at Manuka was fantastic. He said the domestic matches between last year's Sheffield Shield champion Queensland and NSW would be a teaser for Canberra's cricketing public of what was to come.
''It's a bit of an entree with the Shield match and then the [one-day match] getting some good domestic cricket in, then we come straight off that and into the internationals,'' Vergano said. ''We've got the Sri Lankan team playing the Chairman's XI, and then build some momentum into the PM's and then of course Australia coming here for the first time as part of the centenary of Canberra celebrations.
''It's certainly busy as far as the number of days' cricket, and also the magnitude of the matches and the ground redevelopment makes for a very good summer of cricket.''
Vergano said the success of this summer would play an important role in any future negotiations Canberra had with Cricket Australia in securing a Big Bash League team.
The ACT missed out on having a side in the inaugural BBL due to Manuka Oval not having the facilities for the competition, but with additional seating and the introduction of lighting Vergano was optimistic about future negotiations.
''We've certainly had discussions, but it's an ongoing dialogue,'' Vergano said. ''Right now [Cricket Australia] is focused on moving into the Big Bash League 2.
''They are looking at the market, obviously in partnership with the media rights, and a lot of that has to be put to bed to make the picture clearer. If expansion is on the cards obviously we'll be front and centre … but the results we've got, the players we've produced, and the crowds that turn out for these games will certainly help our case.''
Higgs, who started his domestic cricket career with the Canberra Comets in the one-day competition in 1997-98, said a team in a national competition had been a long time coming.
''When I first started with Canberra being in the Mercantile [Mutual Cup] I thought we were moving along the right path, I thought in 10 years we could have been playing Shield cricket, but it wasn't to be,'' he said.
''Where we are now though, we are producing good cricketers and that's all we can do, we have a good product, have good cricketers and hopefully things come our way when the openings do come.''