The news that Canberra has been overlooked for a men’s cricket test next summer shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
Manuka hosted Canberra’s first and only men’s test in the 2018/2019 season when the Australian team faced Sri Lanka.
This was only possible because of the six-test summer in Australia in 2018/2019. Australia played four tests against India and two against Sri Lanka.
The four-test series against India was played in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. Brisbane hosted the first test against Sri Lanka. This left a contest between Canberra and Hobart for the remaining test.
Manuka won out and hosted the second test against Sri Lanka in front of great crowds for the entire five days.
There was a sense of optimism that a big turnout for that test would result in regular men’s tests in Canberra.
The reality is that the six-test home summer was a one-off and won’t happen in the foreseeable future under the Future Tours Program.
In the 2026/2027 season, Australia plays five home tests against New Zealand and Bangladesh.
The two tests against Bangladesh have been scheduled for March 2027, thus they encroach on the AFL season, which could impact ground availability.
With construction on the redevelopment of the Gabba for the 2032 Olympics starting in 2026, Brisbane will be ruled out of test match hosting duties.
This could open the door for Canberra potentially hosting a men’s test against Bangladesh in March 2027.
But plenty of water has to pass under that bridge before this happens.
Meanwhile, all is not lost for next summer in Canberra regarding international cricket. Australia will play the West Indies in the third and final game of the one-day series at Manuka on Tuesday, 6 February 2024.
The Australian women will only play one test next summer when they face South Africa in Perth on 15 February.
The focus for the Australian women’s team is on one-dayers and T20, and this is where Canberra will play a major role with two T20 games against South Africa on 27 and 28 January.
The PM’s XI, played as a four-dayer last summer, is yet to be locked in. This is not an easy task given the congested schedule.
It has become increasingly obvious that powerful forces are at play when scheduling international cricket. Under the circumstances, the ACT has done well to remain part of the Future Tours Program.