Cricket royalty reigns at UOW’s big day
Cricketing royalty came to the University of Wollongong on Sunday (18 November), and turned on a regal exhibition that delighted the large crowd at the fourth annual Stumping Serious Diseases (SSD) Twenty20 match at the University Oval.
UOW Ambassador Adam Gilchrist and West Indian legend Sir Vivian Richards arrived at the University Oval by helicopter from Bowral, where earlier in the day they had been honoured with inclusion in the Greats of the Game Gallery at the International Cricket Hall of Fame at the Bradman Museum, which celebrates the achievements of the world’s greatest cricketer Sir Donald Bradman.
This year’s SSD match continued the tradition of supporting health and medical research at UOW, while also celebrating the recently-announced partnership between the University and the Bradman Foundation based at the Bradman Museum. The partnership aims to educate, inspire and develop young people, in line with Sir Donald’s vision for advancement of young people and cricket.
Sir Viv captained the Bradman World XI , which included two players who had followed him as West Indian captain, master batsman Brian Lara and all-rounder Carl Hoope, as well as former England captain Adam Hollioake, former England batsman Graeme Hick and New Zealand international Darryl Tuffey.
Gilchrist, himself the greatest wicketkeeper-batsman in cricket history, led a UOW XI that included Australian internationals Damien Martyn, Wayne Holdsworth and Tom Moody, Scott Styris (New Zealand) and Robin Smith (England), as well as emerging Australian female all-rounder Kara Sutherland.
Gilchrist, who has supported SSD from its inception in 2009, said the inclusion of all-time greats Sir Viv and Lara made this the biggest SSD event to date. It’s a wonderful endorsement of the University, the city of Wollongong and the Illawarra region, to have gentlemen of this calibre come here to play in this game. You don’t get any bigger names in cricket than these two guys,” he said.
Sir Viv said he felt privileged to be invited. “It is a great cause, and great to be part of the things that they are trying to achieve at the University. Coming to this part of the world, under these circumstances … I feel rather privileged,” he said.
But it was the spectators who felt privileged to see Sir Viv – aged 60, but still with that trademark swagger – batting with a different generation West Indian star in Lara, who still holds the record for the highest Test score (400 not out) and the highest first-class score (500 not out).
And there were plenty of cricketing greats in the crowd too, with former West Indian fast bowlers Michael Holding and Joel Garner and Australians Rod Marsh and Len Pascoe watching the action on the field. Even a relaxed NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell dropped in with one of his sons to enjoy the day’s action and a rare day off from his official duties.
A curtain-raiser celebrity game involving rugby league stars Wendell Sailor, Ben Creagh, Beau Ryan, Jamie Soward and Dan Hunt, Wallaby Quade Cooper and other sporting and show business stars whetted the crowd’s appetite for the main game.
Graeme Hick got the Bradman World XI off to a flying start with a typically stylish 63 off 47 balls, but it was Sir Viv and Lara that the spectators had come to see, and they didn’t disappoint with a 42-run partnership that featured some sublime back-foot cuts and lofted drives from Lara in his innings of 48 from 38 balls.
Sir Viv joked that his 60-year-old body wasn’t quite as quick as his mind: “Whenever you come to games like this you pick up the bat and it’s amazing – the mind is all ready. But sometimes the rest of the body can be a bit slow to tag along.
“But it’s good to be able to make a difference, with days like this … (even) in the twilight zone of one’s career.”
Twilight it may be, but he still shone with an unbeaten 19 off 20 balls in his team’s total of 3-155.
Gilchrist’s XI got off to a shaky start in reply when Tuffey ripped through the top order with three quick wickets, including Gilchrist’s prized scalp for 13. Martyn then revived their fortunes with a brisk 39, but their cause looked lost when the sixth wicket fell at 75. However, a spirited 80-run seventh wicket partnership between University cricket club captain Amit Balgi (42 not out) and Jack Manning Bancroft (37 not out) steered the team to an unlikely tied score.
This was the first SSD match for UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE. He said he was delighted by the community support for the event. “It’s a phenomenally important cause – research into children’s diseases,” Professor Wellings said.
He described the lineup of cricketers as “extraordinary”. He said he had grown up watching Sir Viv play Gillette Cup and Country cricket in England and “to see him playing here at the University is just incredible”.
At the post-match presentation, Gilchrist admitted he was “still pinching myself” to have shared the field with Lara and Sir Viv. No doubt many of the spectators were feeling the same way about seeing two of the all-time greats on the University Oval.
For more pictures, visit the Stumping Serious Diseases facebook page
Report: Nick Hartgerink
Pictures: Sean Maguire and Mark Newsham