WACA days numbered as Manuka Oval looms large

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By Geoff Koop, Geoff Koop is a Roar Pro

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    If that was the last test match ever to be played at the WACA, then what a send off.

    Every day was newsworthy for one reason or another whether it was the stifling heat, the Grand Canyon style cracks appearing on day three, or several Australians (and one Englishman) proving why they belong on the international stage.

    But Cricket Australia has decided that Perth isn’t worthy of a test next year – when India play four here – due to the World Cup, and the WACA has the same amount of games allocated as Canberra’s Manuka Oval.

    If rumours that CA and the ICC have told WACA officials that their ground is not up to scratch are true, then the days of fast, bouncy, irrational cricket may be done.

    Manuka Oval (StarTrack Oval for those who want to help them pay the bills) just this year hosted an ODI between Australia and the Windies. The Aussies won by 39 runs and Shane Watson played a wonderful 122.

    In 2015 it will host the West Indies again as well as South Africa. The playing surface was relaid this year as well as lowered to accommodate more seating and better dugouts.

    The only issue now is that it will be a nervous few months to see if it will retain its lushness and carpet-like state.

    Further modifications such as six light towers which illuminate the playing arena superbly have also added to the appeal of Manuka, with four night events being staged there in 2013 and more on the horizon.

    There’s also the changing facilities which are very high-class (as a Canberra AFL umpire I have been able to use these facilities multiple times) and are more than able to host world class sport.

    These are also a recent upgrade and continue to aid Manuka’s push.

    Located in a hip city area, parking is an issue for Manuka, though public transport should be able to rectify such an issue.

    That then turns the bustling cafe and restaurant scene which is a mere two-minute walk from the ground into a thriving boom area which will profit from increased activity.

    You could argue that Canberra isn’t deserving of a Test. It doesn’t compete at senior state level in domestic cricket and we already have tests in both Melbourne and Sydney, so why go to Canberra as well?

    People, it’s about time that we started to play sport in Canberra. Bring the sport, attract the people, build the facilities and watch it thrive.

    We must be the only nation which is embarrassed about its capital city – and trust me, after spending two of a possible six years here, I’m not too fond of its deplorable winters and ferocious winds either.

    But with it being the capital, we need to start bringing sport to Canberra.

    Give Manuka Oval the Test. We can guarantee five full days of cricket.

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    The Crowd Says (24)

    • Roar Guru

      December 18th 2013 @ 6:44am
      peeeko said | December 18th 2013 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      im not sure that CA Wants to move because because of the pitch, apparently its for other facilities not being up to scratch. there is no way Manuka is up to test standard for a big name team such as SA,England or India. What is the capacity of Manuka?

      • December 18th 2013 @ 7:22am
        bilbo said | December 18th 2013 @ 7:22am | ! Report

        Various sources have mentioned 15k, with a Swans match at 14.9k Even with the new additions, they are only advertising 17k. Whether this could expand to 20k with the ‘standing room only’ crowd remains to be seen. New stand space is available as well, so 25k is not unreasonable in future.

      • December 19th 2013 @ 1:18pm
        Andy said | December 19th 2013 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

        Well if Bellerive is considered good enough I see absolutely no reason why the Capital shouldn’t get a test. You now it will be packed every day and there is a much larger population base than Hobart. Canberra does not get the sporting recognition it deserves in this country and it’d be great to finally have a decent sporting event in the Capital.

    • December 18th 2013 @ 7:13am
      bilbo said | December 18th 2013 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      Apart from myself not reading the bulletin about ACT being declared a State, can’t see the problem !
      The Aus home test season revolves around either the English 5 (Tas misses out), two teams visiting making up 3+3 or 3+2 (again Tas misses out). This rationing has applied since Windies went calypso, NZ went kaput, India goes on celebrity holiday in Oz, and Oz is perpetually scared of the South African threat. Sri Lanka’s two tests are just the right entry into their short form games. Pakistan’s team now can’t blow out Wasim Akram’s birthday candles.
      A change in the above mix would be required for Canberra to be wangled a Test every 3-4 years. This change would be an ICC matter.
      Personally, I’m getting really annoyed by these back-to-back Ashes series. Give it 18 mnths on either side to let the steam build up. Basically CA are saying that the Ashes are the only Test series worth playing, which is extraordinary when you consider the strength of RSA and the imagined world domination by India.
      Yes, all the above is sandwiched between World Cups in the short forms.

      So, yes to more Tests for Tassie and some for Canberra, but there are ICC hurdles to accomplish. We are still in the flux of the push and pull between Tests v short forms. To pin-point this article as a WACA v Manuka stoush is nonsense. The author didn’t even mention the consolidation of the AFL into Manuka with the 10 yr Giants deal of three home games per year. As most will be played early season, the lights are as attractive as they are to short form cricket. The building up of the stands at Manuka, the sinking of the playing surface, new change facilities all add up to serious funding grants not mentioned in the article, nor the stakeholders portions. Such will show that Manuka is in the grip of an AFL/short form makeover, necessary for the Capital’s oval, but not necessarily anything connected with Perth’s new Arizona postcode.

    • December 18th 2013 @ 8:02am
      jamesb said | December 18th 2013 @ 8:02am | ! Report

      It would be a sad sad day if test cricket leaves the WACA. Majority of the touring teams struggle because either their bowlers bowl too short, or their batsmen struggle with the bounce.

      WACA is such a unique ground with it’s unique pitch.

      As a cricket fan, I’d be devastated if there’s no test cricket at the WACA.

      • December 18th 2013 @ 9:00am
        jax said | December 18th 2013 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        +1

        • Roar Guru

          December 18th 2013 @ 12:26pm
          Simon said | December 18th 2013 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

          With the proliferation of football grounds with drop-in pitches, the WACA is a breath of fresh air for it’s unique pitch and atmosphere.

          With a booming population of cashed up bogans, Saffas and Poms, the idea of not playing Test cricket in the West should never be contemplated.

        • December 18th 2013 @ 2:17pm
          davros said | December 18th 2013 @ 2:17pm | ! Report

          +2

    • December 18th 2013 @ 9:25am
      Lawrie said | December 18th 2013 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      What a load of rubbish. There is less cover for spectators at Manuka than WACA for a start
      Dunno about guaranteeing 5 days either – the weather aint so hot there
      Lovely ground, give it a few ODIs but a Test match ahead of Perth. You’re kidding!

    • Roar Guru

      December 18th 2013 @ 9:28am
      Tony Loedi said | December 18th 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      This is completely wrong. Manuka will never get a test. Remember WACA is in front of Bellerive, I can’t see Canberra jumping in front of the two traditional cricket grounds.

    • December 18th 2013 @ 10:23am
      Nick Inatey said | December 18th 2013 @ 10:23am | ! Report

      As an ex-Canberra resident, I cannot see Canberra hosting a test in the near future. Manuka oval is a joke for watching any sport and it seems that ACT govt only want to host games there so that the parking officers can book all the illegally parked cars (because there is nowhere else to park) and make some quick cash.

      Nor can I see Channel 9 ever allowing CA to move tests away from Perth. With the timezone difference, they are a ratings goldmine and a cash cow for both CA and Channel 9. No test gets better 5 day average ratings than the Perth test. Remember Channel 9 vented their extreme displeasure at Perth being dropped for the Indian tour…I don’t think CA will risk biting the hand that feeds them again.

      My bet is that both CA/Channel 9 will put up with the WACA until the Burswood stadium is built and then jump ship to that ground.

      • December 18th 2013 @ 11:42am
        Jorji Costava - The Guru's Guru said | December 18th 2013 @ 11:42am | ! Report

        On the tv ratings. I believe the Boxing Day test is consistently the highest rating Australia sporting event coast to coast year on year. It rates more than either of the grand finals. It also lasts for 7 hours. Beat that footy codes. We are still a cricketing nation at the end of the day.

        • December 18th 2013 @ 1:37pm
          Ian Whitchurch said | December 18th 2013 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

          Jorgi,

          No. We arent – cricket support is a mile wide and an inch deep.

          You’re taking the one good day a year cricket has most years, and using that to say cricket is healthy.

          Right now, I’d bet that Central Districts, East Perth, the Newtown Jets and the Redcliffe Dolphins get better crowds that their state Shield sides, and lets not talk about the one-day competitions crash in crowds.

          Cricket. Its just not that popular, and cricket in Australia can either lie about that, or it can do something about it.

        • December 18th 2013 @ 2:55pm
          Nick Inatey said | December 18th 2013 @ 2:55pm | ! Report

          Jorji,

          The AFL grand final, NRL grand final and the NRL origin series ALWAYS out rate the cricket. You can look it up if you like. The smh/theage put up those figures a couple of weeks ago.

          • December 19th 2013 @ 5:59am
            Ash said | December 19th 2013 @ 5:59am | ! Report

            except for 4 Rugby league & the AFL GF nothing else comes anywhere close to cricket’s ratings (all 3 formats)

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