CANBERRA remains the only capital of a Test-playing country not to have held a cricket Test match. That must change.
Capital cricket fans are over the moon that the Centenary has brought with it our first one-day international involving our national team. That’s great. We’ll all be there when Australia takes on the West Indies in a day-nighter at Manuka Oval on Wednesday, February 6. We must pack the place out to ensure that it’s the first of many.
It’s not the absolute first ODI in our town. South Africa played Zimbabwe as a part of the cricket World Cup in the early ‘90s and India and Sri Lanka clashed at Manuka in 2008. I wasn’t here for the World Cup game, but I did go to the ’08 ODI, with a Sri Lankan flag draped over my shoulders. It was a great day and it’s a major disappointment that we’ve had to wait five years for the next one.
The “pyjama game” is one thing, but real cricket is played over five days. Test cricket is, and always will be, the pinnacle of the gentleman’s game. It’s an absolute disgrace that Cairns and Darwin have had a shot at hosting a Test, but we haven’t.
I was dismayed to see the vast expanses of empty seats at the Gabba in Brisbane on the final two days of the first Test of the summer. Despite our relatively smaller population, I’m sure that Canberra would have provided bigger crowds in the final days because we “get” Test cricket here. Canberra is an intellectual yet patriotic city. It’s chock full of cricket tragics and they need their own Test match.
I concede that when we do finally score one, it’ll be against the likes of Bangladesh or Zimbabwe, but I really don’t care. All I can see is that wonderful carpet of green under an impossibly blue Canberra sky, a healthy intelligent crowd and baggy green caps being worn in the centre.
Consider also the growing array of first-class cricket talent that has emerged from Canberra in recent years. From Michael Bevan and Brad Haddin through to the likes of Nathan Lyon and Jason Floros, we are proving to be a lucrative nursery for stars of the game with the promise of much more to come.
Come on, Cricket Australia – it’s inevitable, give us a Test match. I won’t shut up till it happens!
Mark Parton is the breakfast announcer on 2CC