PM’s XI already! The cricket summer is here..

New Zealand celebrate a wicket last night at Manuka Oval, in their 102-run win over the Prime Minister's XI. Image ABC Grandstand

New Zealand celebrate a wicket last night at Manuka Oval, in their 102-run win over the Prime Minister’s XI. Image ABC Grandstand

New Zealand have won the annual Prime Minister’s XI tour match in Canberra yesterday and last night, and it marked a day of firsts for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it marked the first game at international level where the new pink Kookaburra ball was used under lights (Southern Stars spinner Erin Osborne is telling Jim Maxwell all about it, below left), and it also saw me undertake my first stints as a ball-by-ball commentator for ABC Grandstand (below right, with ACT Comets star batsman, Jono Dean, who was also on debut). All feedback has been positive thus far!

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Days numbered for the Prime Minister’s XI match?

England skipper Alistair Cook, PM's XI captain Brett Lee, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott walk out for the toss at Manuka Oval last summer. Image: ABC Local

England skipper Alistair Cook, PM’s XI captain Brett Lee, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott walk out for the toss at Manuka Oval last summer. Image: ABC Local

The Roar: Since its’ reintroduction in the early 1980s, the annual Prime Minister’s XI match against the touring international team of the time has been the premier cricket event in Canberra every summer.

The match’s place on the calendar has been fluid – sometimes before Christmas, sometimes after – and it was still played in whites and with a red ball until as recently as the mid-2000s. It has, however, remained the major money-spinner for Cricket ACT for a long, long time.

But changes in the way the domestic game is now structured and broadcast on television, and the rapid emergence and consolidation of the Big Bash League as the staple state cricket intake has me convinced that the days are numbered for the Prime Minister’s game..

The cricket commentary experience: even better than I hoped..

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a first innings guest during "his match" on Tuesday. He's chatting with ABC's Jim Maxwell..

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a first innings guest during “his match” on Tuesday. He’s chatting with ABC’s Jim Maxwell..

Being part of the 666 ABC Canberra commentary team for the PM’s XI clash against England on Tuesday really was a wonderful experience, one that’s given me a real taste of live sport broadcasts.

Alongside ABC Cricket commentary legend Jim Maxwell, Canberra-based commentator Tim Gavel, and 666 ABC Canberra afternoon presenter Adam Shirley, I was part of a rotating team of “experts”, including the PM’s selection advisor Lt Col Cate McGregor, local cricket coach Simon Cusden, and former Weston Creek team-mate and ACT Cricket legend, Greg Irvine.

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PMs XI: England get a win, but some familiar tales remain

England celebrate the comical runout of Clive Rose at Manuka. Their 172-run win earned them a two-hour early mark. Image: ABC Grandstand

England celebrate the comical runout of Clive Rose at Manuka. Their 172-run win earned them a two-hour early mark. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Well, it’s taken them into their third month on tour, but England have finally had a win on Australian soil, fairly comprehensively beating the Prime Minister’s XI by 172 runs at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

But where England might have had little to lose in a festival match like the Prime Minister’s XI clash, and even with Alastair Cook winning another toss on tour, the tale of the tape took on a very familiar look very early on in the piece.

Cook had no hesitation in batting on getting the call of the coin right, and PM’s XI Captain, Brett Lee, had said 24 hours out from the match that he was hoping to bat first, too, to avoid the south-eastern Australian heatwave which has taken residence in the Nation’s Capital as well.

My talking points from the match are over on The Roar, today..