By Luke Voogt
Geelong’s first international cricket match is on track for a capacity crowd, the sport’s national governing body confirmed yesterday (Thursday).
Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said the match was “the first major test” of Geelong’s desire for international fixtures and a Big Bash side.
“I’d like to see on the weekend just how the community does support big-time cricket coming here,” he said.
“Hopefully, we’ll see a great crowd and that will send a strong message to us … that Geelong wants more.”
Mr Sutherland said Cricket Australia had no plans to expand the teams in the Big Bash League but added “when we do, Geelong is going to be a very strong candidate.”
He said Geelong won’t host international cricket next summer, with only England touring, but that Cricket Australia planned a games increase in the Big Bash.
“There might well be Big Bash games here next season,” he said.
A spokesperson for Cricket Australia confirmed it had sold 13,000 tickets as of Thursday for the T20 match between Australia and Sri Lanka on Sunday.
The spokesperson said Cricket Australia expected locals to fill the ground, which has a reduced capacity of about 20,000 due to construction works.
He added it was expecting a “walk-in crowd” of between 3000 and 5000.
“We’re on track for a massive crowd,” the spokesperson said.
“But there are tickets still available.”
Big hitting Colac-born captain Aaron Finch said the match was huge opportunity for this year’s T20 standouts, with the test side touring India.
While he admitted the scheduled clash would take a “bit of shine” off the match, he said it would still include some of Australia’s best.
“When you look at the mix of youth and experience, there are some players who have worked to this point for a long time now.
“There’s also some guys coming off a really successful Big Bash that get their opportunity.”
Veteran batsman Michael Klinger is set to make a long awaited-debut for his country after being named in Australia’s 13-man squad.
Strikers opener Ben Dunk earned a call-up when Brisbane Heat master blaster Chris Lynn was ruled out due to a neck injury.
Dangerous quick Lasith Malinga is set to make his return to international cricket after being named in Sri Lanka’s 15-man squad.
Malinga last played for his national side more than a year ago, taking 4-26 against the UAE in an Asia Cup T20 match before succumbing to injury.
Sri Lanka has named Upul Tharanga as its new skipper in lieu of the injured Angelo Mathews.