Canberra has hosted a number of what would be considered international sporting events, but all would be overtaken in terms of significance if a Men’s Ashes test came to the capital.
To this day, I still believe the 2015 Asian Soccer Quarter Final between Iran and Iraq, the Olympic Games soccer matches in 2000 played at Canberra Stadium, Don Bradman’s final game of cricket in 1963, and the 2019 men’s cricket test between Australia and Sri Lanka at Manuka have been the most significant sports events so far.
These are closely followed by several T20 and One Day World Cup and internationals in men’s and women’s cricket, the 2017 Anzac rugby league test, the Brumbies’ three Super Rugby grand final matches, the Raiders semi-finals, the two Fed Cup tennis ties, the 2013 Australian Women’s Golf Open at Royal Canberra, and the 2005 Women’s Champions Trophy hockey tournament.
In the mix also would be the Dunlop International in 1970 and the ESP Open in 1980 at Royal Canberra, the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships at Stromlo, the 1985 Track and Field World Cup at Bruce Stadium and the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup games.
Manuka Oval will host a women’s Ashes Cricket test in February, which will add to the growth in significance of women’s cricket as it builds its history and crowd numbers swell.
But all these events would be in the shadow of a Men’s Ashes test in terms of global significance.
It has to be stated at this point that Canberra is a distinct outsider for this to happen, but it remains a possibility, albeit remote.
In the first instance, the West Australian COVID border restrictions and quarantining would have to still be in place when the test is scheduled to start in Perth on 14 January next year.
Second, if Perth couldn’t host the test, Hobart would be ahead of Canberra for hosting rights.
Hobart was scheduled to be the venue for the one-off test in November between Australia and Afghanistan, which appears highly unlikely to go ahead. An Ashes test could be seen as a more than adequate replacement.
But if the Afghanistan test did go ahead, Canberra would assume favouritism.
It’s a long shot, and plenty needs to happen for Canberra to host a Men’s Ashes test, but as we witnessed with the Big Bash last season, with Manuka hosting 13 matches, nothing can be ruled out.