James Sutherland backs Cricket ACT's bold Ashes plan

Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland has thrown his weight behind Cricket ACT's bold push to sell-out Manuka Oval for a potential women's Ashes decider.

Sutherland says Cricket Australia wouldn't be scheduling games in Canberra if they didn't think a packed house was "well and truly a possibility".

Manuka Oval will play host to two women's Ashes Twenty20 matches in November that will kick off a huge summer of cricket in the capital.

A packed house would make Canberra set the benchmark for supporting women's cricket and fuel desires for a permanent Big Bash League presence at Manuka Oval.

But adding more teams to the BBL is a few seasons away at least with Sutherland indicating expansion plans revolve around more games rather than franchises.

The Sydney Thunder are edging towards finalising a deal to play a Big Bash League double-header at Manuka Oval on January 24, eight days before the Prime Minister's XI host England.

Cricket ACT boss Cameron French called for fans to turn up to the Ashes in droves and now Sutherland has backed the ambitious plan for the games on November 19 and 21.

"It'd be fantastic if that was able to happen," Sutherland said.

"We certainly know the fans here in the ACT and the broader region, there's a very strong cricket culture here.

"We wouldn't be fixturing games here in this part of the country if we didn't believe that a sell-out every time a game is here is well and truly a possibility.

"The T20's are actually strategically positioned at the end of the series. The points may well really count to decide who wins the Ashes eventually.

"From that perspective, we're hoping there'll be lots of people from throughout Canberra and the surrounding regions that get behind our women's team as they try to retain the Ashes."

Sutherland was decked out in ACT Rockets gear on the last stop of his nationwide tour for Play Cricket Week on Friday afternoon.

Bumper crowds could keep coming at Manuka Oval, which has firmed as the favourite for the Thunder's fifth home game of the BBL season against the Melbourne Renegades on January 24, with scope for a WBBL game to be played in a double-header.

Australian cricket's new memorandum of understanding had all parties in a holding pattern and there has been little movement since but Sutherland is hopeful an announcement isn't far away.

Thunder general manager Lee Germon is keen to lock in an agreement with the ACT government soon with the season fast approaching.

Manuka Oval hosted the BBL|04 final in front of a crowd of 11,387 and Sutherland hopes Canberra fans will be swarming through the gates for another clash.

"It'd be nice to think the Thunder were able to get something across the line with the ACT government and at Manuka Oval," Sutherland said.

"We'd love to see another BBL match here, there's only been one here. It was a final a few years ago, went down to the last ball, capacity crowd at Manuka Oval.

"We know how much fans here love their T20 cricket and they'll be looking forward to seeing another game here.

"Let's hope we see the Thunder at some stage during the course of BBL|07."

The women's Ashes matches will be Canberra's only taste of Australian international cricket before Manuka Oval hosts a maiden Test match in the 2018-19 summer.

Limited content in an Ashes summer meant Canberra was squeezed out of the men's international schedule this summer despite being midway through a four-year deal to have international cricket played at Manuka Oval.

However Cricket ACT is anticipating a bumper crowd at Manuka Oval for the Prime Minister's XI's clash with England under lights on February 2.

This story James Sutherland backs Cricket ACT's bold Ashes plan first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.