Cricket Australia together with the Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull have confirmed that Australia off-spinner Nathan Lyon will captain the Prime Minister’s XI against England at Manuka Oval, next month on 2 February.
The off-spin bowler was crucial in Australia’s 4-0 Ashes victory, playing all five Tests and taking 21 wickets at an average of 29.23.
He was also responsible for a direct hit run out in the first Test which many labelled the turning point of the series.
Lyon made his Australian debut at the age of 23 in Sri Lanka in August 2011, where he took the wicket of Kumar Sangakkara with his first ball in Test cricket; finishing with figures of 5 for 34. He has now amassed 290 Test wickets which makes him Australia’s most successful off-spinner of all time.
There is a local flavour to Lyon’s appointment having lived in Canberra as a teenager and represented the ACT at under 17 and under 19 level before making his debut for the ACT Comets in 2008.
However, it was his work as a curator at Manuka Oval that eventually saw him transfer to South Australia in 2010 to take a job on the Adelaide Oval ground staff.
This transfer also fast-tracked his cricket career which saw him quickly rise through the State T20 and First Class ranks before making his Test debut just seven months later.
Adding to the local flavour is the appointment Brad Haddin as Head Coach. Haddin, currently part of the Bupa Support Staff with the Australian men’s team played junior cricket in neighbouring Queanbeyan before going on to play grade cricket in Canberra and making his professional debut in 1997 for the ACT Comets.
In a further coup for fans attending the much-anticipated fixture in Canberra, Cricket Australia has also confirmed that the match will become a double-header, with the ICC’s 15th ranked nation Hong Kong to take on an ACT XI at Manuka Oval on the same day.
Hong Kong is fresh from qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier after consecutive victories over Papua New Guinea who defeated the ACT XI in last year’s Prime Minister’s XI curtain raiser.
Turnbull also announced that the Lord’s Taverners ACT would be the official charity partner of this summer’s Prime Minister’s XI match.
Speaking on the raft of announcements, the Prime Minister said he was very much looking forward to the match in a fortnights time.
“We have had an excellent summer of cricket already with the Ashes series and Big Bash League attracting huge crowds and I’m sure that this match will be no exception,” Prime Minister Turnbull said.
“It’s pleasing to get Nathan and Brad on-board to lead the team, and the match will be a great opportunity for people from around Canberra to see some of our best young cricketers in action.
“Most importantly, the match will help raise funds for the Lord’s Taverners who do a fantastic job in helping young and disadvantaged cricketers and athletes to pursue their sporting dreams.”
Nathan Lyon said he was honoured to be offered such an opportunity.
“It’s a tremendous honour to be selected to captain the Prime Minister’s XI and captain alongside the likes of past greats including Brett Lee, Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting,” said Lyon.
“Obviously Manuka Oval holds a special place in my heart and I really look forward to the challenge of taking on England in the T20 format with what I’m sure will be an exciting group of players.”
Pat Howard, Executive General Manager of Team Performance said that the match preceding the fixture of Hong Kong and an ACT XI was important to further strengthen cricket in emerging markets.
“On the back of the recent success of the Afghanistan players in the KFC Big Bash League and our international rookie program in the WBBL, this is another opportunity for the Australian public to witness the increasing talent coming out of emerging cricket nations. Ahead of the World Twenty20 in 2020 we are committed to help grow the international game and in particular emerging countries of the Asia and Pacific regions,” concluded Howard.