Cricket Australia, the governing body of the sport in the country, has confirmed that capital city Canberra will host a Test match during the national team’s 2018-19 season.
Exact details of when Canberra’s 16,000-capacity Manuka Oval venue will stage the Test have yet to be announced. It will mark the first time the venue has hosted a Test match, and the first time Cricket Australia has added a new ground to the Test match schedule since 2003, when the Marrara Oval in Darwin and Cairns’ Cazaly’s Stadium were selected.
Manuka Oval has experience of staging international matches in the past, having hosted eight one-day internationals, including three games at last year’s World Cup. It will stage its ninth ODI when Australia takes on New Zealand in the second match of the Chappell-Hadlee series in December, and will also continue to host the annual Prime Minister’s XI match before it becomes the 10th venue to host Test match cricket in Australia.
“Over several years, Canberra has demonstrated a strong appetite for international cricket, with consistently strong crowds coming to Manuka Oval for one-day international matches,” Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said.
“Today’s announcement recognises the continued growth of the sport not only in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) but the wider region, and is a testament to the effort being placed on participation in the Territory with more than 32,000 playing cricket last season and this season on track for further increases.
"Part of our charter is to showcase the game to as many cricket fans around the nation to encourage growth, and with more than one million people living in the ACT and Southern NSW (New South Wales) region, we believe there is a great advantage in Canberra hosting a Test match.”
ACT Government Chief Minister Andrew Barr added: “The ACT Government has invested significantly in Manuka Oval in recent years to ensure that the venue was well placed to host Test match cricket. Today's announcement is a big win for cricket fans in the Canberra region and for the city more broadly.”
Reports have suggested that Canberra’s inclusion on the Test match schedule would see Hobart lose its own hosting rights. The Tasmanian city last December played host to Australia’s Test against the West Indies and will this November welcome South Africa for the first time.
Sutherland insisted that no final decision has been made on Hobart’s place on the 2018-19 schedule. “We're always juggling the program and we're committed to sharing content around the country,” he said.