The Primary Club of Australia’s cricket team has conducted numerous tours over the past four decades. The tours have proven invaluable in extending the reach of the charity and for raising extra funds. Domestic tours take place each summer to the Barossa Valley (South Australia), the Southern Highlands (NSW), the Hunter Valley (NSW) and Melbourne (Victoria). Overseas cricket tours also regularly take place and previous tours have included the United Kingdowm, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, South Africa, Kenya, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada and the USA.
The Primary Club of Australia had a fantastic fortnight of cricket in the UK – great locations, first rate grounds, competitive cricket, some exciting finishes, and a significant amount of socialising.
Our itinerary took us from the beautiful town of Sidmouth, up to Stratford and the Midlands, then finishing in London. We were blessed with some great weather, losing only half a match to rain.
Cricket highlights of the tour were probably:
· Craig McIntyre and Brad Oldridge’s 54 run ninth wicket partnership to get us home against Dumbleton CC, Gloucestershire. Chasing 191 we were 8 for 139 before our heroes saw us home to get our first (and much anticipated) win on tour.
· Damien Langley’s solo effort of 95* when the rest of the batsmen failed against Barnes CC, Middlesex. We recovered from 6 for 43 to post 197, which was only chased down in the last over.
· Our entire team performance against the Honourable Artillery Company where we were privileged to play at one of the very, very best grounds in the centre of London. Chasing just 175 to win, Euan Robertson opened the batting and saw us home with 59* (ably supported by Rob Stevenson, Simon Richards and Brendan Povey).
· Resuming the Primary Club Ashes against the English Primary Club side at Beckenham Kent, with Rick Glover playing in a game he had previously played in 1982.
· Playing with some great friends of the Primary Club in Ed Cunynghame, Will Noble, David Waters and Simon Richards who were terrific additions to the tour (and sometimes opponents).
· Four out of nine games going down to the last over, albeit we lost three of them!
There were some lowlights as well, which is only to be expected given the welcoming hospitality offered off the field by our English hosts the night before matches:
· By the time Brad Oldridge had bowled the second legal ball of the tour there were already 14 runs on the board through a combination of wides and no-balls. The Horse is hereafter forbidden from crossing the equator again.
· Joe Scarcella waited until the last game of the tour to pick up his first wicket. As the tour progressed his appeals for lbw became almost religious in nature.
· We were soundly thumped in all games in Sidmouth. Nathan Reay could not recall a batsman previously running at him to pound the ball straight over his head for six and this seemed to put him off his game somewhat.
· Rob Stevenson spent much of the tour practising his hook shot which consistently resulted in him being clocked in the back of the head, until he smashed the ball for six over square leg in the last game of the tour against HAC.
· The highest partnership of the tour was Greg Stark and Euan Robertson’s 93 against a very good Warwickshire Imps side, although it was followed by a collapse to 200 all out after the rain came (including 9 for 66 to an annoyingly talented Chinaman bowler).
· Kevin Mason missed the Honourable Artillery Club game after enjoying the excesses of London a bit too much. It is rumoured that he made it back to Sydney safely, although this is unconfirmed at this stage.
Off-field the Primary Club performed in the manner you would expect. A highlight was our attendance at day three of the first Ashes test in Birmingham. It was to be a pivotal day in the overall Ashes series, and for a long period we had Primary Club Ambassador Pat Cummins fielding immediately in front of us.
We also had a terrific golf day at Sidmouth Golf Club where Brendan Povey, Rick Glover and Euan Robertson (just) took home the trophy for best team on the day.
Everyone on tour would like to sincerely thank Nathan Reay and Rob Stevenson who put a phenomenal amount of effort into making the tour more professional than any of us deserve. Nathan also captained the tour, ensuring everyone participated and usually putting the interests of others above himself (although his batting in particular was very good).
A mention too to Catherine Reay who generously organised our tour kit and endured many stressful emails and phone calls about whether colours and sizes were just right.
Top Performers of the tour were:
Batting: Damien Langley 328 runs @ 65.60; Brendan Povey 199 runs @ 24.88; Euan Robertson 197 runs @ 28.14
Bowling: Damien Langley 14 wickets @ 18.21; Brad Oldridge 10 wickets @ 29.90; Rick Glover 9 wickets @ 30.00
Fielding: Euan Robertson 4 catches and 4 stumpings; Damien Langley 5 catches; Ed Cunynghame 4 catches
2018 - Kenya
Back row from left: Ian Wright, Steve Matthews, Craig Hambleton, Peter Leggett, Andrew Wildblood, Peter Buscall, Nathan Dale, Joe Scarcella, Richard Pym, Rob Stevenson, David Waters; Front row from left: Geoff Verco, Jim Maxwell AO, Nathan Reay (c), Euan Robertson, Rick Glover AO; Front kneeling: Henry Matthews
Kenya 2018 – a phrase that will live forever with the men, women and children who joined this trip of a lifetime.
For the majority of the Primary Club touring party, this was our first trip to Kenya and for a few, the first trip to an African nation. Kenya lived up to the billing and it was easy to see why this country has been held so dear by so many (including HM Queen Elizabeth II) for so long. The tapestry was so striking in terms of wildlife, culture and history.
While the main reason for visiting Kenya was to play cricket and participate in the ‘Last Male Standing - Rhino Cup’ tournament, it speaks volumes about the attraction of Kenya that our touring party had considerably more ‘spectators’ than ‘cricket-players’. Although I think the spectators were rightfully far more interested in the sight-seeing, the game parks and the colonial history than they were in the cricket. Maybe our performance on the field played a part!
In reality though this was down to the hard work of Rob Stevenson whose drive to make this tour a success cannot be spoken of highly enough. From the outset Rob was committed to ensure this was a tour for all and an opportunity for tourists (spectators and players) to see the land of his birth in all its glory. He achieved this superbly and I commend him to the highest level for all he did for us.
On the cricket side, our plan was to play the game we all love in an environment and backdrop that was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This was achieved with great highlights of playing in Nairobi and Mombasa as well as the surreal Rhino Cup itself in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, playing amongst the animals. Seeing giraffes and elephants wondering near the pitch mid-game as well as driving past lions on the way to a game will live with us all forever.
The spirit of camaraderie on and off the field makes us all proud to be Primarians and that good spirit, inclusivity and a little gamesmanship were certainly in abundance, no matter where we travelled. While our win/loss record in the 7 games may not be something to brag about, as President Jim Maxwell pointed out, we never did worse than coming second. In fact, in a couple of fixtures we amazed ourselves about how close the result was.
There were so many highlights of this great trip, the Rhino Cup in the Conservancy, games at the Nairobi Club, the animals of Ol Pejeta (including the last 2 northern white rhino) and the Maasai Mara, the children of the schools where we visited and coached cricket, their smiling faces and gratefulness even through the adversity they lived under, will live with us forever. Visiting the local villages of the Maasai people in the Mara was also an incredible and humbling experience.
We come away from Kenya with many great memories of our time amongst the rhinos, the lions, giraffe, wildebeest, cheetah, zebra and many more – all of whom seemed so comfortable with us humans ‘invading’ their playground. Add to that the spirit with which our touring party members mingled, sang, danced, dined, drank and played, plus chased their bags from baboons!!! It gives us so many rich memories of this adventure.
There are so many people to thank. Firstly each and every tourist, you brought with you the most important thing, a positive and fun outlook which made this a tour group that stuck together and had fun together, this was so critical! There are so many great personal highlights which we hope can be shared again for many years to come.
Special personal thanks though on behalf of the club and all tourists, goes to a few people:
- Rob Stevenson – as mentioned above for his inspiration to plan and organise this tour
- Jim Maxwell – it was fantastic to have the support of our President with his commentary stint at the final of the Rhino Cup a standout moment
- Rick Glover and Geoff Verco – fellow tour committee members who at every turn gave their support in the preparation of the tour and while on the ground in Kenya
- Nathan Dale and Melissa – amazing organisation of the Rhino Cup, alongside Rob
- David Waters – who organised so much of the day-to-day aspects of the tour and was a perfect guide and story teller, both on and off the pitch
- Martin Mworia – the right hand man of David who became an on-field teammate, friend, guide and so much more, to many of us by the end of the trip
- Ian Wright – having a professional scorer in our ranks was hugely appreciated and lifted our record keeping to the next level
- Kenya Kongonis Cricket Club – our tour hosts throughout who kindly made their ground and facilities in Nairobi available to us at all times of the tour
- Sgt Steve Matthews – for the thankless task of extracting fines (donations) from touring party members – over $500 to our charity.
Last but not least - vice-captain Euan Robertson, who during the end of tour dinner at the fabulous Carnivore Restaurant, announced his tour awards, which is set out again for posterity:
- · John Farnham Award for retiring cricketer - Dick Pym, Geoff Verco, Rick Glover (the latter now not allowed after only half a last game!)
- · David Attenborough award for closest relationship with local wildlife - Pete Leggett
- · Australian High Commissioners award for building relations between Australia and Kenya - Joe Scarcella for dropping David Waters first ball
- · Seek.com award for most career limiting outcome - Martin Mworia for bowling David Waters for a duck
- · Kipchoge Keino award for running between the wickets - Ed Cunynghame, Euan Robertson and Rob Stevenson.
- · Florence nightingale award for most bizarre injury on tour - Geoff Verco and Andy Wildblood
- · The X Factor award for undiscovered talent - Peter Leggett
We wish our Kenyan hosts all the very best in the future; we hope the Rhino Cup continues to grow in stature, size and reputation each year, which in turn will mean more learn of the plight of endangered wildlife and see first-hand the life of those underprivileged children who we pray may find opportunity to reach great achievements in life.
1982 - England
1981 - Hong Kong & Singapore
Team taking the field at Singapore Cricket Club 15th April 1981: Alan Edgar, David McInnes (obscured), Bruce Collins, David Walker, Ian Blair, Chris Meares, Ross Flanery, Phil Wotton, Rick Glover, Tom Spencer (obscured), Larry King