Ireland wicket keeper, Gary Wilson celebrates Ireland’s first wicket against South Africa at Manuka Oval. Photo: Melissa AdamsChief Minister Andrew Barr has hailed Canberra’s super summer of sport a success, although he felt a disappointing Cricket World Cup crowd meant the Asian Cup took the honours between the two world-class events.
Three of Canberra’s seven Asian Cup soccer games sold out as did one of the three World Cup matches while the Big Bash League final and a one-day international between Australia and South Africa made up a feast of sport in the nation’s capital.
A multicultural vibe added to the games, with Korea, China, Iraq, Iran, Bangladesh and Afghanistan all bringing their unique flavour to the ACT.
Barr felt the first World Cup game between Bangladesh and Afghanistan had given cricket’s showpiece a flying start, but he said a disappointing crowd of 5544 turned out to watch West Indies master blaster Chris Gayle smash 215 off just 147 balls, the highest World Cup score ever.
More than 82,000 fans piled into Canberra Stadium across the seven Asian Cup games, with the thrilling quarter-final between Iraq and Iran the highlight.
“Overall, pleased. Obviously the first game [of the World Cup] had an extraordinary attendance and a fantastic atmosphere,” Barr said.
“We were a little disappointed with the final numbers for game two, but I understand there’s been a lot of cricket this year and it’s a work day and there’s a range of other factors.
“Overall, I think the summer of events has been really good for Canberra, especially the level of community engagement, especially with the Asian Cup.”
He was unsure whether the disappointing attendance for the World Cup was due to cricket fatigue, but he felt it had shown Manuka Oval could handle international cricket.
“This has been the biggest summer of cricket Canberra has seen, so it’s a nice problem to have rather than a famine,” Barr said.
“A feast of cricket is a good thing. The question for us was ‘Would the venue stand up to this international test?’ The feedback’s been very positive. It gives us confidence to bring other events in the future.”
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