The President’s Report

In so many ways, 2014/15 has been a very sad year for Australian Cricket and for the members of the Primary Club. Not only did we lose one of our strong long-time supporters in Honorary Vice-President Ian Craig OAM last November, but then after his own personal battle to recover health following a car accident 18 months earlier, we lost our esteemed Twelfth Man and Patron, Richie Benaud OBE, in April.

Australian Cricket also lost one of its promising young and upcoming stars, with the sad passing of Phillip Hughes in late November following a freakish injury on the cricket field. I have rarely seen such widespread grief around the country, not just amongst the cricket community but across all walks of life. Cricket lovers responded overwhelmingly to the “put your bat out” tribute that reinforced the importance of social media.

Then, just weeks ago, Arthur Morris OBE passed away at age 93, following a brief illness. Arthur, also a Vice- President of the Primary Club, played 46 Tests for Australia and earned a place in the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame. He and Judith attended many Club functions, most recently the Marathon Cricket Dinner in 2010, where we celebrated his 88th Birthday amongst a number of his former cricket mates.

Much has been written and said about each of these gentlemen in public forums. I personally lost a dear friend when Richie died. He was an inspiration to me in my career and in my approach to broadcasting; but as Twelfth Man he was always willing and available to share thoughts about Primary Club matters, to say nothing of his and Daphne’s amazing record of participation at Club functions since he accepted the post in 2003. Our recent edition of “First Ball” was a special tribute edition to Richie, his career and his leadership within the Primary Club.

While the aforementioned occurrences were felt deeply by our membership and several of our planned events were impacted, I am pleased to report our ongoing activities yielded some $249k in grants to charities, either paid or committed. This may be down on our record of $302k in the prior year. However, Lindy Stuart alludes in her report to the fact that there is a healthy backlog of deserving projects for her committee’s review. So, with the ongoing support of our members, a new record year is just around the corner!

Two grants of significance were firstly the $38k for a‘softfall playground’at the Chalmers Road School at Strathfield (Sydney), a primary school with 72 children with moderate to severe intellectual disability; and secondly, the $16k for playground equipment at Port Phillip Special School (Melbourne), a school catering for 150 kids. The latter is significant because of the ‘hands-on’ role played by our own Victorian Committee members, who will no doubt be coming back to the well requesting additional financial support in the months ahead.

I recently returned to Sydney from the UK. The Australian Cricket Team lost the Ashes over six extraordinary days of cricket at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. They performed impressively coming from a loss at Cardiff to win convincingly at Lord’s. However, in the next two matches, England’s skillful bowling made the most of the conditions and won the Ashes by humiliating the Australian batting line-up.

For Michael Clarke it was a disappointing conclusion to a brilliant career after winning the World Cup so decisively. The margin between success and failure as a batsman is narrow, and alas for Clarke he couldn’t confidently produce his best, and around him the inability of batsmen to adapt to the moving ball, to be more patient, wrecked Australia’s aspirations. Clarke’s record averaging nearly fifty with 28 centuries is outstanding and his successor Steve Smith has some challenges ahead to make sure Australia can win as well away as they do at home.

A reflection of the fact that Australia has been performing well on the international cricket stage is that the number of Aussie Golden Ducks in 2014/15 has declined to the lowest number (9) in the last ten years and down from the peak of 19 in 2010/11. For the first time, this year’s number includes Australian Women cricketers, the Southern Stars, who only registered one Primary. For the Primary Club, this translates to lower fines or donations into our charity trust account, unless of course members make more discretionary donations over and above the Golden Duck fines, and we grow our member numbers.

With Richie’s passing, the Management Committee decided with Daphne’s approval to establish a Memorial Fund in his honour. To date, donations to this fund total over $14k. In time, we intend creating an enduring charitable memorial to Richie in recognition of his work for the Club and our mission.

In 2014 we celebrated our 40th Anniversary. This culminated in a celebratory dinner at the SCG last November, where we welcomed over 50 past committee members and their partners. Highlights on the night included the panel interview with founders, Peter Howarth OAM and Jon Erby AM, and Dr John Yeo AO who has consulted with the Club over the decades about the challenges for people recovering from spinal injuries.

The Primary Club congratulates our rugby cousins, the Cauliflower Club of Australia, whom we were instrumental in helping to form over the last three years. With over 600 members, the CCA has achieved its own DGR tax status and is now operating in its own right and already making significant contributions to sporting and recreational facilities for organisations around the country. We look forward to continued association with the Cauliflower Club, as we share similar objectives helping people with a disability.

It gives me great pleasure to advise members that our new Twelfth man is Mark Taylor AO. Mark has served the Club as a Vice President since 1999 soon after retiring from his long service as Australian cricket captain. Mark has been guest speaker at several PCA functions. Mark played 104 Tests and scored 7,525 runs at an average of 43.49, is a current Cricket Australia Director and a well-known voice of authority on Channel Nine’s cricket coverage. Mark is highly regarded for his strong sense of community through a number of charitable commitments.

Looking ahead to the 2015/16 year, your Management Committee has plans to encourage membership growth, create several new member and fund-raising events and improve the profit yield from our functions in order to satisfy more of the backlog of applications from our charity partners.

Thank you all for your ongoing support. Please help us grow our membership in 2015/16 by inviting a friend or two to join. Only with member retention and growth can we expect to achieve higher charity goals in the months and years ahead!


Jim Maxwell

AM President