Canberra is known for many things: the cold weather, the politicians, Floriade, the AIS, the roundabouts and the Raiders and the Brumbies.
They’re also a rising force in Australian cricket, participating in the Futures League and the women’s competitions (as the ACT Meteors)
The Canberra Comets played in the Mercantile Mutual Cup in from 1997-2000. A lack of success and local support saw the Comets dropped from the competition.
Gradually, Canberra have rebuit, with Michael Bevan, Brad Haddin and Nathan Lyon representing Australia. The ACT Comets won the Futures League four-day competition in 2010/11. More importantly, Manuka Oval gained floodlights, meaning limited-overs internationals were now financially viable. In February 2013, Australia played the West Indies as part of Canberra’s year-long centenary celebrations. Manuka Oval hosted three matches in this year’s World Cup, the 2013/14 Sheffield Shield final and the 2015 Big Bash final. While it’s unlikely to host a Test match anytime soon, regular ODIs and T20s are all but guaranteed.
When the Matador Cup was extended last year, Cricket Australia missed a chance to bring the Comets back. Instead a “Cricket Australia XI” was introduced, a team of upcoming players not selected by their states. While it gives fringe players vital exposure, surely the Comets deserved another chance? Take the best of the CA XI, add a few locals and you’ve got a competitive Comets side ready to go. Commercially the Matador Cup is well behind the all-consuming Big Bash (Nine have the Matador Cup’s TV rights but dump it on GEM), so it won’t matter if it takes the Comets a while to win.
In another boon for Cricket ACT, former South Australian, Tasmanian and Victorian batsman Aidan Blizzard is ACT’s new Director of Coaching and Education, as well as the ACT Aces’ inclusion in NSW’s regional Twenty20 tournament.
If cricket is serious about becoming a genuine national sport (unlike the NRL and AFL, which are tied to traditional state boundaries), they need to consider the Comets again.