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; 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.