Saturday, April 6, 2013

Manuka's World Cup bid revamp

Cricket ACT will upgrade the Manuka Oval surface.

Cricket ACT will upgrade the Manuka Oval surface. Photo: Melissa Adams

Cricket ACT views sacrificing Chairman's XI hosting rights as a small price to pay as it looks to upgrade Manuka Oval into a venue capable of hosting 2015 World Cup games.

Cricket Australia has confirmed the two-day fixture against England on November 29-30 will be moved to another city, with work on resurfacing the ground to begin mid-year. Manuka Oval hasn't been resurfaced since it opened in 1929, and Cricket Australia and the AFL both rate its upgrade a top priority.

Of major concern is the venue's poor drainage. It's believed the ground can only handle about 16mm of rain before cricket fixtures are jeopardised for safety reasons.

The Canberra Times understands the work will cost $3 million-$4 million, and will begin almost immediately after the Greater Western Sydney Giants' final AFL game at the venue this year, against Western Bulldogs on July 6.

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Manuka Oval hosted the Australian cricket team for the first time in a one-day international against West Indies in February.

ACT Minister for Sport and Recreation Andrew Barr said the decision would enhance the ground's hopes of hosting high-profile matches. ''The resurfacing works are necessary and will give Manuka Oval and Canberra the best chance to continue to host top-class cricket fixtures in the future, and will support the ACT government's bid for cricket World Cup matches in 2015.''

The redevelopment is scheduled to be completed before the end of the year, meaning the Prime Minister's XI clash against England in January isn't in jeopardy.

''The beauty about doing this now rather than later is we will have a top-grade facility, and the ACT government is engaged in discussion about 2015 World Cup games,'' Cricket ACT chairman Ian McNamee said.

''The other thing about the ground is there's always been a concern about water laying on the oval.''

Cricket ACT has held initial discussions with Cricket NSW chairman John Warn about Manuka Oval hosting a Big Bash League match next summer.

The resurfacing is just one of many upgrades planned for Manuka, including boosting the capacity to around 19,000.

Manuka Oval general manager Neale Guthrie said last month the redevelopment was necessary to bring it in line with other Australian venues. ''It's the same surface that was installed in 1929 so there's no drainage underneath,'' he said.

''If we got 10mm on the day of the one-day international, we could have lost the day.

''We're looking to install a well-draining sports turf by taking up the playing surface and replacing underneath with a drainage layer and a sand layer.

''It's just a matter of putting up with a bit of inconvenience in order to have a much better surface and more surety on having games unaffected by bad weather.''


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