Shane Warne and Michael Hussey in mix to lead Prime Minister's XI against England in January

Manuka Oval.  Photo: Graham Tidy.
Manuka Oval. Photo: Graham Tidy.

The 'King of Spin' Shane Warne and 'Mr Cricket' Michael Hussey loom as the Prime Minister's XI's secret weapons in the bid to get a big crowd at Manuka Oval in Canberra's hectic sporting calendar.

The PM's XI will play England on January 14, wedged between two Asian Cup soccer matches at Canberra Stadium and adds to an already bumper cricket schedule, which includes three World Cup games and a one-day international.

Two of Australia's greatest cricketers have emerged as captaincy candidates for the day-night fixture as England returns to Australia to compete in this summer's triangular one-day series alongside Australia and India.

The PM's XI captaincy role is usually reserved for recently retired players, with Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee, Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden some of the players who have stepped into the role.

Warne, the world's greatest leg-spinner, Hussey and Adam Gilchrist fit the profile, but Cricket Australia could also opt to use the game as valuable experience for younger players leading into the World Cup, which starts in February.

The PM's XI fixture adds to an already jam-packed Canberra sporting schedule, with Australia to play South Africa in a one-day international on November 19 and Manuka Oval to host three World Cup games.

Asian Cup soccer will be played in Canberra from January 10-23, with games between Kuwait v Korea DPR and Bahrain v UAE either side of the PM's XI match.

Cricket ACT chief executive Mark Vergano is confident the multimillion-dollar revamp at Manuka Oval and the prospect of a star leader will attract fans.

"It has its challenges [with a lot of sport on at the same time] but it comes with opportunities," Vergano said.

"Sports co-operate well and Asian Cup is different to being placed on a local level. The Prime Minister's XI is our iconic cricket match, we've got fantastic support in recent years.

"We'll be looking to promote it again, the facilities here at the ground for a day-night match has enlivened the experience."

Cricket Australia confirmed it hopes to attract another recently retired star, but the team won't be picked until closer to the game to work around the schedules of other competitions.

There is also the potential of Ponting or Lee leading the team again.

Warne and Hussy would be massive drawcards for the traditional fixture, which attracted more than 12,000 fans to Manuka Oval earlier this year when England beat the PM's XI by 172 runs.

Warne is regarded as Australia's greatest bowler, claiming 708 wickets in his 145 Tests before retiring from international duties in 2007. Warne retired from the Twenty20 Big Bash last year.

Hussey scored 19 centuries in his 79 Tests for Australia and retired from international cricket last year.

Canberra will host seven Asian Cup games – including a quarter-final – in 10 days in January.

Tickets for the PM's XI are expected to go on sale in August. Hosting World Cup games means Manuka Oval won't be used as a venue for the Sheffield Shield or domestic one-day competition.

Cricket ACT officials are still working with Cricket NSW about the prospect of hosting a Big Bash Twenty20 trial match later this year.

Australia's clash against South Africa will be just the second time the national team has played in Canberra.

Manuka Oval will host three games in the cricket World Cup, with Bangladesh, the West Indies, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ireland to play at the venue in the tournament.

The World Cup starts on February 14.

"It's a busy schedule, we've got the one-day international with South Africa here for the first time since 1996," Vergano said.

"It's a fantastic summer and one of the biggest we've had."


November 19: Australia v South Africa

January 14: Prime Minister's XI v England

February 18: Bangladesh v Afghanistan

February 24: West Indies v Zimbabwe

March 3: South Africa v Ireland

This story Shane Warne and Michael Hussey in mix to lead Prime Minister's XI against England in January first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.