Cricket in the Capital



Canberra, home of our “beloved” politicians, Floriade, the Canberra Raiders and ACT Brumbies, is gradually gaining a foothold with Cricket Australia, campaigning to host a Test in the 2016/17 summer.

It’s been 15 years since the Canberra Comets played in the Mercantile Mutual Cup. Despite boasting former Test cricketers Merv Hughes, Mike Veletta and future Test cricketer Brad Haddin, they won three games in three seasons.

Canberra has continued their cricket involvement ever since. Manuka Oval has hosted the Prime Minister’s XI game since 1951, regular tour matches, NSW Sheffield Shield games (including the 2013/14 final), the 2014/15 Big Bash Final between Perth and the Sydney Sixers, the Comets in the Futures and ACT Meteors in the WNCL. Test off-spinner Nathan Lyon represented the Comets from 2008 to 2010.

Since 1992, Manuka Oval has hosted seven ODIs, with Australia to play India in the fourth ODI on January 20, 2016.

March 10, 1992, South Africa v Zimbabwe (1992 ICC World Cup). South Africa won by 7 wickets

South Africa’s 1992 World Cup is remembered for the heartbreaking semi-final loss to England. Before this, they enjoyed a comfortable victory over Zimbabwe.

Bowling first, Brian McMillan (3/30), Peter Kirsten (3/31) and Hansie Cronje (2/17) dismissed Zimbabwe for 163 in the 49th over. Seven Zimbabwe batsmen scored between 15 and 20.

After losing Andrew Hudson early, captain Kelper Wessels (70) and Kirsten (62 not out) complied 112 as South Africa coasted to victory with four overs to spare.

February 12, 2008, India v Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka won by 8 wickets

Sixteen years later, international cricket returned to Canberra, with India and Sri Lanka playing in the Commonwealth Bank Series. After nearly 40 years, the Tri-Series was losing its commercial appeal as non-Australian games were almost forgotten. On a rainy February Tuesday, Sri Lanka beat India by eight wickets. Rohit Sharma (70 not out), Gautam Gambhir (35), Sachin Tendulkar (32) and captain MS Dohni (31) piloted India’s 5/195 off 29 overs. More rain meant Sri Lanka’s target was revised to 154 from 21 overs. Tillakaratne Dilshan (62 not out) and captain Mahela Jayawardene (36 not out) got Sri Lanka home with two overs left.

February 6, 2013, Australia v West Indies.  Australia won by 39 runs

Canberra celebrated their centenary in 2013. Part of the celebrations included the first ODI featuring Australia and the first ODI under lights.

Shane Watson (122), Phillip Hughes (86), George Bailey (44) and Aaron Finch (38) helped Australia to 7/329. The West Indies gave it a good shot, with Darren Bravo (86), Dwayne Bravo (51), Kieran Powell (47) and Andre Russell (43) keeping the run rate above six. James Faulker took 4/48 as Australia won with 15 balls to spare.

November 19, 2014, Australia v South Africa. Australia won by 73 runs 

Australia returned to Canberra during the November 2014 ODI series against South Africa. Australia took a 2-1 series lead after a big win. Again Australia topped 300. Openers Finch (109) and David Warner (53) slammed 118, supported by Steve Smith (73 not out) and Watson (40). Chasing 330, openers Hashim Amla (102) and Quinton de Kock (47) scored 108 in 18 overs. From there Australia took control, with Mitchell Starc (4/32) and Josh Hazlewood (3/41) taking the bulk of the wickets. Captain AB DeVilliers scored 52, but it wasn’t enough.

February 18, 2015, Afghanistan v Bangladesh (2015 ICC World Cup). Bangladesh won by 105 runs            

Canberra’s first of three World Cup games saw Bangladesh comfortably beat Afghanistan. Wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim (71) and Shakib Al Hasan (63) helped Bangledesh to 267. Afghanistan never recovered after slumping to 3/3 in the third over, with pace bowler Mashrafe Mortaza taking 3/20, though captain Mohammad Nabi (44) and Samiullah Shenwari (42) put up a fight.

February 24, 2015, West Indies v Zimbabwe (2015 ICC World Cup). West Indies won by 73 runs

Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels dominated the West Indies’ huge win over Zimbabwe. Gayle (215) and Samuels (133 not out) scored all of the Windies’ 2/372. Opening bowlers Jerome Taylor (3/38) and Jason Holder (3/48) ensured the West Indies would romp home despite defiant half centuries from Sean Williams (76) and Craig Ervine (52).

March 3, 2015, Ireland v South Africa (2015 ICC World Cup). South Africa won by 201 runs

Nearly 23 years after their first Canberra win, South Africa outmuscled Ireland. Amla (159) and Faf du Plessis 109 complied 247 for the second wicket, followed by an unbeaten 111 for the fifth wicket between Rilee Rossouw (61 not out) and David Miller (46 not out) as South Africa cruised past 400. Ireland’s were 5/48 in the 11th over, though Andy Balbirnie (58) and Kevin O’Brien (48) fought hard against Kyle Abbott (4/21), Morne Morkel (3/34) and Dale Steyn (2/39).



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