Game 1: Australia O70s v Hertfordshire

Defending the Silver Ashes, the Aussies O70s hit the ground running in the first of their 13 game (10 Counties and 3 ODIs) tour of England and Wales. Winning the toss in game one, skipper Ian Petherick had no hesitation in asking Hertfordshire to bat on a sporty wicket. The county side was on the back foot immediately with openers Tim Spear (VIC) and Colin Cooke (QLD) claiming early wickets. More tight bowling and wickets by Robin Court (VIC) and Stirling Hamman (NSW) had Hertfordshire reeling at 5 for 38. In survival mode, the home team recovered to reach 101 with Alan Reid (S.A) and Tom Wood (NSW) picking up 4 wickets mopping up the tail.

Following a magnificent “tea”, Tom Wood’s swashbuckling 52 ret at a run a ball with support from Stirling Hamman (NSW) and Roger Edmunds (TAS) saw the Aussies victors with 21 overs to spare. Man of the Match: Tom Wood

Game 2: Australia O70s v Essex

Playing at the famous Maldon cricket ground – home of 4 English Test captains – openers Harry Solomon (33) and Gippslander Ian Gibson (51 ret) got the Aussies off to a good start. John Terrell kept momentum going with a brisk 50 (ret) and with cameo innings from Alan Reid, Ian Petherick, Roger Edmunds, Robin Court and Ron Kasputtis, the visitors compiled a formidable 5/ 225 at the compulsory closure.

Resuming after another superb “tea”, the aussie bowlers were on top from the start of the Essex innings. With Kasputtis, Court and Bruce Pooley picking up early wickets the home team slumped to 7 for 47. The tail then added some respectability to the score enabling the home side to reach 9/ 120 at stumps with Terrell, Reid and Phil Smith chipping in with one wicket each.

Game 3: Australia O70s v Norfolk/ Suffolk

Playing at the beautiful Highfield Lawn – home of the Falkenham Cricket Club – the Aussies under new skipper Stirling Hamman got off to a flyer. With openers Tom Wood 50 ret off 41 balls and John Stackpoole 32 (41) scoring at 6 an over, Australia was 1/91 at the first break. Quick running between wickets was a highlight of the partnership between ACS Ian Gibson 50 ret (65) and Stirling Hamman 48 (58) followed up by classy innings from both John Terrell 27 (34) and Gippslander Ian Gibson 26x (27) that saw the Aussies reach 4/ 245 at the compulsory closure.

The host team was on the back foot from the start of their innings. Tim Spear’s speed and cut (2 for 24 from 7) and the swing and guile of Ron Kasputtis (1 for 16 off 7) saw the home team struggling at 3/ 98. Tight bowling by Roger Edmunds (2 for 13 off 5) kept up the pressure and with Tom Wood, Phil Smith and Stirling Hamman picking up late wickets, the combined county side struggled to 6/ 127 at the close of innings … an easy win for the Aussies with the first ODI less than a week away.

Game 4: Australia O70s v Chairmans XI

The game against a strong Chairmans XI at Banbury CC in Oxfordshire, the home side won the toss and batted on a flat wicket. English openers Levey and Rawlings had put on 85 before Robin Court broke through for the first wicket. Despite tight bowling, the only other wickets to fall came from a Ian Petherick/ Wavell McPherson run out and a McPherson stumping off Alan Reid. On a fast ground 3/ 222 at the compulsory closure was considered “getable”.

When a bright opening partnership by John Stackpoole 37 from 37 balls and Wavell McPherson 26 from 30 was followed by Ian Petherick’s 41 from 55, a win looked on the cards. Momentum slowed down when Ian B Gibson was run out from a ricochet onto the bowler’s end stumps, and Robin Court, Roger Edmunds and Colin Cooke failed to reach double figures.

Tim Spear’s bright 43 with his new bat provided hope of a win before the 9th wicket fell for 203.  Phil Smith and Bruce Pooley fought hard until a disastrous run out – the third of the innings – saw the Aussies finally dismissed for 221 in the 42nd over … one run short of victory but a good workout with the first ODI on Wednesday.

Australia England O70 Ist ODI

Playing in their first O70s ODI for Australia – Stirling Hamman (no.60), Ian A Gibson (61), Alan Reid (62), Phil Smith (63), John Terrell (64) and Tom Wood (65) – were presented with the “Baggy Green” at the pre-game ceremony and singing of the national anthem.

Aussie skipper Ian Petherick won the toss and had no hesitation in batting on a hard and evenly grassed wicket that saw in form opener Tom Wood run out in the first over.  Cautious batting by Petherick (14) and stylish square driving by John Stackpoole (35) saw the Aussies consolidate to be 2 for 59 at the first drinks break.

Well set difficult to penetrate fields caused the downfall of Alan Reid (30) with the score 4 for 117 at the second drinks break. The combination of Stirling Hamman (43) and lusty hitting by Roger Edmunds (21) picked up the pace and quick running between wickets by Ian A Gibson (24no) and Tim Spear (23) enabled Australia to reach 7 for 205 at the 50 over compulsory closure of innings … a total some thought could be 30 or 40 runs short.

Trademark tight bowling by Ron Kasputtis who captured the prize wicket of the English captain Micky Swain and Tim Spear had England under pressure from the start with the score 3 for 26 after 12 overs. Tom Wood’s spin bowling and Colin Cooke’s medium pacers kept the pressure up with England 4 for 86 in the 26th over.

Strong middle order batting saw momentum swing back towards England before timely wickets by Tim Spear and Stirling Hamman that had the game evenly poised at 7 for 170. In the ensuing run chase and with pressure mounting, the home side lost 2 wickets including a run-out. With 3 overs to go and the score at 9 for 193, the game was again in the balance.  Great bowling “at the death” saw the England innings finish at 9 for 200, just 5 runs short of victory.

Going ONE UP in the 3 match series, the day was made especially memorable by the wonderful hospitality of the host club – the Banbury Twenty Cricket Club. Man of the match Ron Kasputtis.

VCV_Tour 2018_Japan & China 

From Alan Curr (CEO Japan Cricket)

One of the girls who came on Sunday keeps a blog, and she wrote a long one on Sunday night after the match with you guys. I could only understand parts of it so I had it translated and I thought your guys might enjoy reading it.

The original is here, and there’s a few photos so you can see who she is (the former baseballer with the long hair who you gave MVP to):…

I was completely worn out this morning. If I play every day in international tournaments, my body would be like this, so I need to be prepared for that.

I was tired, but did my best today! Today’s match was….FANTASTIC!!

Saying, “You guys were awesome!! May your future in cricket shine!”

I don’t speak English, so wasn’t exactly sure what they were saying, but we leaped language barrier and played together. That is a Cricket!

It was a blast!!! I was an opening batsman. To be honest, I was pretty low in the morning, because I was able to hit only two balls yesterday…

My playing time was only one minute in the two and a half hours of offense side. It was tooooo short! I was so bummed!

I actually talked with some of the parents, they said they don’t know what to say to their kids at such time.

In baseball, we could say, ”Next innings. Move on”. There’s always next time in baseball, but in cricket, it’s now or never!!

We have to be mentally strong to maintain high level of performance throughout the match.

It is tough!! But every day is a new day! Let’s play!

Takada-san gave me an advice that I should concentrate on each ball, that should not think whether I could score or not.

Yesterday, I just really wanted to hit a ball, but today, I tried to be calm as much as possible then I was able to drive naturally! I did on-drive with my front foot.

I can hit my favorite balls by being patient with other balls. It’s nothing special, but I guess I was too aggressive and just wanted to hit any ball….

Now I know I should wait and select the balls!

I really wanted to avoid to be forced out, so I slid into the pitch! My body ached all over, but I really wanted to win!!

I was chosen as MVP of this match, because my obsession for the run was valued?! As in international tournaments, MVP was chosen for every match.

That is new and exciting for me! Yeah!! This is my first medal!!

I still think, ”I should have done so then”, but I believe I took a step forward today. I felt blue yesterday, but I am happy today!!

I am a positive thinker always, but today, I definitely felt improvement in my play! That was the best thing. (Maybe too optimistic?!)

If I finished the day with just two balls like yesterday, I don’t think I could survive a day at work next week!!

After the match, we all shake hands and applause each other. I am really honoured to receive the words from these veteran players.

Even when I was forced out, everyone at the bench warmly welcomed me with applause. Their kindness and teamwork make the match fun and my heart warm!

They are all 65 or over, but we should not underestimate them. They might be a little slow when fielding but very aggressive when batting. They have various shots using all ground, 360°!! They did hit many sixes(home runs)!!

I was very impressed by their physical strength, spirit and aggressive playing style!

I really appreciate that I was given this splendid opportunity. The Aussie Veterans travel all over the world together playing cricket ! They are sooo cool!!

One of them actually remembered me and gave me his uniforms. Two shirts!! He said, “You played here yesterday?” I’ll give you my uniform after this match!”

Wow. Thank you very much. I will never forget this wonderful day.

He also told me that they really enjoyed watching my play and said, “Keep doing your best!!” That motivated me!!

Entertaining spectators is one of my goals as an athlete. Well, I feel more exhausted after the match, especially back and abdominal muscles hurt from the training yesterday.

I need to have a good sleep tonight….

See y’all!!

SRI LANKA TOUR – 30th March to 15th April 2018.

From our various points of departure we arrived at Colombo International Airport to be greeted by David Cruse of Upalis Restaurant, and my contact in Sri Lanka, together with Anuradha from Travel Design by CDC and our Tour Guide Amila. Bus Assistant Nero and Baggage Van attendants Donal and Gamini were at hand.

Greetings were exchanged, photos taken, and we moved on to the Jetwing Blue Hotel by bus where we arrived in darkness. On arising next morning we saw the beautiful surroundings including the beach and pool area. Some of our tourists tried their hand at sailing/fishing whilst others lazed around for the day to settle in to the Sri Lankan weather conditions and recover from the flights.

Next day we moved onto Sigiriya via the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage where we also lunched. Saw the young elephants being bottle fed as well. In Sigiriya we stayed at the Aliya Resort and Spa , again with beautiful facilities, scenery and food.

Our first cricket match was played the next day at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium which was in excellent condition as it was being used for Provincial matches that week within Sri Lanka. All the touring group was in attendance and an excellent buffet lunch provided by the Aliya resort was had. Unfortunately our 8/179 was passed by the Masters Eleven in the 28th over with them 4/182. Ian Longmuir 32 ret and Steve Pascoe 37 no were top bats with Ian Longmuir, Guy Eastwood and Gordon Abraham sharing the wickets.

The following day some of us went to see the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and with varying degrees of success the climb was attempted. We returned to the Resort and then moved on to Kandy calling in at a Spice Garden for viewing, lunch and massage. Some members viewed the Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic.

Staying at the Earls Regency Kandy we ventured off to play cricket at Welagedara Cricket Ground against Kurunagala Veterans. We made 4/204 with Jeff Cole 34 rtno, Michael Reidy 18 rtno, Steve Pascoe 24 rtno, Gordon Cowling 19 rtno, Ian Longmuir 31 rtno and Graeme Lechte 24 rtno the better batsmen. In reply the Veterans got close making 197 in the 36th over. Cowling, Gara, Pascoe, Eastwood, Fraser, Longmuir and Abraham all took wickets. Reidy 3 stumpings and a catch. Some shopping was done by the girls. Another excellent buffet lunch.

On the bus again to Nuwara Eliya ( Little England) in the cooler climate. Our cricket match had been cancelled so Tea Plantation/Factory was visited, Victoria Gardens viewed and some shared a boat ride around the lake. High Tea was also undertaken in the lovely gardens of Jetwing St Andrews Hotel.

Next we hit the road to Yala National Park where we arrived at the Jetwing Yala at dusk.

The area had received some rainfall which we later found out was common especially around 4 pm in the evenings.

Our accommodation was again different and close to nature with cows, pigs etc around the Hotel.

An early rise next morning to the Park but because of the rain overnight not all animals had ventured out. However we saw a large range of birds, animals(buffalo, pigs, deer, crocs) across the wetlands and Elephants.

We returned, spruced up and commenced the long trip to Bentota via Galle. We spent some 2 hours in Galle exploring all the history and the Fort etc, saw where the Tsunami went in 2004, and viewed the Galle Cricket Ground externally.

It was a long and tiring day which meant we got to Vivanti by Taj Resort in darkness. Next morning the surprise awaited of the pool, the ocean and surrounding scenery.

Off to play Foundation of Goodness Veterans Team at MCC Lords ground at Hikkaduwa. As per the name the MCC provided the funds to reclaim this ground after the Tsunami. We again batted first and in a 35 over match made 9/158 with Ian Fraser 21 rtno, Jeff Cole 18 and Colin Rich 16 no. FOG passed us in the 33rd over 8/159. Cowling, Rich, Pascoe, Eastwood and Cole wicket takers. Another nice buffet lunch.

Next day we backed up against FOG at their Surrey Oval at the FOG Sports complex in Seenigama. En Route we visited the MCC Centre of Excellence where their schooling/training activities take place and had the pleasure of meeting the founder and Trustee Kushil Gunasekera who spoke with passion of the activities both before and after the Tsunami. The mission is to empower the less privileged rural communities, whilst inculcating the spirit of goodness, so that they may have equal opportunities to excel in life.

We presented activity books ( donated by Hinkler Books), black and colored pencils, pens (OfficeWorks) amongst other things which were donated by tour members.

Some of the ladies stayed on for a cooking class while the men went to cricket.

I received a scooter ride to and from the ground by one of the FOG’s sports co ordinators (Nishantha) and he also showed me his house along the way.

Again we batted first and in 30 overs made 8/162 with Ian Fraser 25 rtno, Ian Longmuir 37 rtno and Steve Pascoe 17 rtno. Another nice buffet lunch and then the rains were coming. We bowled 1.2 overs and FOG were 1/3 with David Green taking another catch in the slips from Gordon Cowlings bowling, so an early finish to the day enabling the tourists to spend more time at the resort.

During the day Michael Reidy ( a former St Kilda playing member) presented St Kilda AFL footballs to Kushil. I had the pleasure of handing over Cricket Equipment provided by Cricket Australia through Nick Hatzoglou, Equipment donated by Knight Sports and many other items donated by members of the tour.

After a sleep in next morning we then ventured up the Express Way to Colombo and the Kingsbury Hotel. Certainly much faster than the slow pace of Galle Road when it was the only road route.

That evening we had dinner at Upalis Restaurant hosted by David Cruse so exposure to a traditional and top class Sri Lankan Restaurant. It just happened that a photographer turned up to take photos – some of which were published in an article in The Island newspaper Sunday 15th April. Also just turning up were former Sri Lankan cricketers Chaminda Vass and Farveez Maharoof who spent some time discussing cricket with us. Former ICC match referee and previously Sri Lankan cricketer Roshan Mahanama was delayed at another engagement and unable to attend. Thankyou David for these arrangements.

More cricket next day versus the Colombo Masters CC and held at Royal College in Colombo.

We were down 2/1 on tour with a washout (drawn) game. Longmuir (twice) Fraser and Barrett had captained previous games.

Michael Reidy captained this match and yes we batted first again and made 7/172 off 30 overs with Jeff Cole 33 rtno , Guy Eastwood 21 rtno, Ian Fraser 18 rtno and Ian Longmuir 18 no. In reply the Masters were dismissed for 158 in the 30th over with good catching and run outs in the field holding us in good stead.

Cricket wise 2 all with the drawn washout game as well.

Our Cricket Equipment which came from Buffalo Sports has been left with David Cruse to hand on to worthy recipients.

Thanks to the ladies who came and supported us in what was quite hot and humid conditions throughout the tour.

The ladies did get some shopping opportunities and none moreso than at the Jewellery manufacturers we visited. Some very nice rings were purchased in Kandy and clothing and accessories as we went around Sri Lanka.

Whilst in Colombo although the Sinhala/Tamil New Year was being celebrated we had a bus Tour for a few hours seeing the sites of Colombo. We dined at Mount Lavinia Hotel where some of us have stayed in the past. It is a transformed former Governors Residence and also was used as a Hospital for the Allied Forces in WW2.

Our final Dinner was held at the Kingsbury Hotel where a couple of days of R and R were able to be had at the conclusion of the tour.

Thanks to Gabrielle and his staff at The Kingsbury for making our stay there a great one and the co operation for late check out etc.

Several cakes and flowers were provided at the Kingsbury for Birthdays and Wedding Anniversaries as was done at previous Hotels as we went around Sri Lanka.

There are many thankyou’s to be given.

David Cruse for his organisation behind the scenes and being the link man in Sri Lanka.

Anuradha (Manager) of Travel Design by CDC providing us with an array of hotels and experiences, Amila our Tour Guide, who had to put up with my many requests, and gave us an informative over view of Sri Lanka, Daya our Bus Driver, Nero our Bus helper, Donal and Gamini on the Baggage Truck. Thankyou for being a major part of our successful tour.

Joel McGlynn our travel man at Helloworld Brighton here in Melbourne – thankyou.

So many of our Tour Party performed jobs along the way. Gordon Cowling, Ian Longmuir and Colin Rich on selection. The Captains for match day organisation. Jeff Cole and Marty Crump as Equipment men. Marty and David Green scoring when injured. Various presentations by Guy Eastwood, Rob Gara, Gordon Abraham, Steve Pascoe, Julie Cowling.  

Neil Hopkins as head counter.

John Moore as media together with Yvonne an excellent job.

Ian Fraser and Mardi on the fines, with commentary, and money collection. On our bus trip to the Airport I announced we had collected 20,550 SLR ‘s towards FOG Education Packs.

By the time I got home that amount had risen to 38,260 SLR’s thanks to further significant donations. Through your generosity that will cover at least 8 Education Packs for Children for one year.

To Cricket Australia, St Kilda FC, Knight Sports, Buffalo Sports, Hinkler Books and other individuals who provided equipment/goods as donations thankyou for your assistance with the Tour.

Everyone on Tour has contributed in their own special way, just by being there, and being part of an experience that only Sri Lanka can provide as it did.

I hope you enjoyed the experience, as I did leading the tour, and I trust you have now made some new friends through your involvement directly or indirectly in cricket circles and beyond.


James Barrett ( Tour Manager)

Ian Fraser & Mardi , Jeff Cole, Neil Hopkins & Cleone, David Green & Veronica, John Moore & Yvonne, Ian Longmuir & Jenny, Robert Gara & Barbara-Gwynne, Graeme Lechte & Toni, Mike Reidy & Karen, Colin Rich & Phillipa, Gordon Abraham & Althea, Marty Crump, Guy Eastwood & Glenda, Gordon Cowling & Julie, Steve Pascoe & Ann.


Australian O70s team win Silver Ashes 3-0

By Arthur Pritchard … It has been an honour and privilege to lead the team and I thank the Australian selectors for the opportunity and having the faith in me to fulfil the role. I think all knew we would be having a real crack, but to see everything come together after the planning and preparation we put in was tremendous … and a relief!

Once we got over the 1st ODI in Adelaide and we knew we could actually beat England our confidence grew. There was no doubt they expected to chase down our score in this game given their number of high scoring and quality bats who had prevailed in previous series. In the end they were somewhat in a state of disbelief to have been beaten.

Our team gelled together and became a tight unit with individuals prepared to play entirely for the team and accept admirably decisions that had to be made prior to and during the games.

After the overwhelming win in Geelong the old enemy was shell shocked.

We went to Brisbane and I am sure England was struggling in ODI#3 at 2/33 off 18.1 overs before rain put a stop to play.

Maroochydore was abandoned when the ground was deemed unfit for play by a time to enable the completion of the 50 overs each for a ODI.

Then to another victory in Brisbane, where 290 proved to be an overwhelming score to be chased against our attack, and a 3-0 series win.

Ian Petherick was absolutely outstanding and they had no answer to his brilliant batting as reflected in his not out scores and culminating in his richly deserved century in ODI#5. In different games other members of the team successfully combined with Ian to put us in favourable positions.

The excellent efforts of the 4 early bowlers, Tim Spear, Ron Kasputtis, Ron Lovell and Colin Cooke for stitching up the acknowledged English run makers was complemented by Roger Edmunds who was deliberately kept to bowl at the death in Adelaide and Geelong and as required in ODI#5.

Overall our fielding was very good and provided fantastic support for our bowlers.

Some team members did not get many opportunities to display their abilities which was unfortunate. However they were dedicated to being part of a winning team and supportive of not taking our foot off the accelerator until the very end. Every one of the 13 players contributed to the team’s success in one form or other. Not only are they quality cricketers, they are quality people.

For myself, I could not have written the script better. The support the players gave me and one another was outstanding. Together we achieved what hasn’t been done previously and each member should be proud of the fact. The newly named ‘Silver Ashes’ are safely on Australian soil!

Thank you for all the support the team and individual members received from family, friends and VCV colleagues – especially to those who attended ODI#2 at Geelong.

Arthur Pritchard (captain)


Ross Price organised 12 days cricket tour to the Tiwi Islands and Darwin from 13 to 24 August. Escape from a Melbourne Winter and bask in 30 degrees of sunshine and … 

1. Cricket – 4 days of cricket on the best turf pitches in Darwin.

2. Play cricket with the Torres Strait Islanders in the Saltwater Cup on the Tiwi Islands.

3. Visit the Humpty Doo Hotel and the Adelaide River. The Adelaide River Crossing has Croc Jumping Cruises where 6 metre crocs jump for bits of meat held on the end of poles.

4. Tiwi islands – travel by boat to Bathurst and Melville Islands.

5. Experiencing Torres Strait Island cultural activities with the locals. Visit Tiwi College and Bima Wear Textile Factory, art gallery and Museum.

6. Coach Torres Strait Island children to play cricket.

7. Visiting various tourist sights around Darwin including the Cyclone Tracey Museum, Art Gallery, Aviation Museum, feeding fish at the pier, a night market with 5,000 people and the Darwin Casino for a special evening meal.

8. Special tour of Kakadu – take a boat cruise to witness thousands of waterbirds, crocodiles, barramundi, etc.

9. There will be several opportunities to go fishing with half day and full day fishing with the locals in the waters surrounding Tiwi islands (supposedly the best fishing territory in the world) and half day and full day fishing in the ocean around Darwin. 

10.New golf course opening at Club Tropical Resort in July.

11. Visit the Darwin Crocodile Farm.

12.Free days to plan your own tourist activities including shopping tours or a relaxing day at the Club Tropical Resort (**** 4 STARS).

TOUR COST: $1990.00 including airfare to and from Darwin, transfers, cricket costs, accommodation in Darwin at the Club Tropical Resort and accommodation in the Tiwi Islands and transport costs via ferries and mini buses. Meals included in the tour price are 4 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 evening meals. Participants to organise their own travel insurance.


Mexican Style Cricket – 8000ft

By Exotic Tours Supremo Derek Braidner … There are Cricket Tours and then there are Cricket Tours. Exotic Cricket Tours has travelled to some unique locations to play Cricket, but this tour was different.

Several years ago I decided that I wanted to finish my own cricket career playing our beloved game in EXOTIC locations, so from that time on, Countries have been chosen …not…for their Cricket History, but to fit that description of an EXOTIC cricket location.

This tour was given the name Calypso / Yankee” which describes our cricketing journey to Mexico City MEXICO, Havana CUBA , Kingston JAMAICA, New York USA, Philadelphia USA and Vancouver CANADA. There were 29 Victorians and 5 Tasmanians in the group.

As always, each player was allocated an important  tour responsibility. All performed  brilliantly especially the Captains and Selectors group. Greg Johnson, Ian Hammet and Ian Fraser. 


One year ago, a casual conversation with Bruce Hotton (Yarra Valley) led me to include Mexico in the tour.  His daughter Verity lives in Mexico City and offered her services as a guide and translator and she proved to be invaluable.  With her help, 2 matches were arranged with the Mexico City CC and were subsequently played at their ground “ The Reforma Club, in the heart of a city of 23 Million people.

Our Hotel “ La Casona” was an absolute treasure, both quirky and furnished entirely with Mexican antiques, strangely the owner was a “Swiss”, with a Swiss chef, which only added to the flavour.

Have you ever visited a “ Mariachi Band Restaurant “ where you pay by the song and have three, 6 men bands all dressed-in full traditional Mexican attire, all playing within earshot of one another and another one, tuning up for their turn to play ?

At one point, at the end of our table I saw our new Pres. Greg Johnson trying to protect his eardrums from 2 trumpets, only inches away.

This was truly Mexican and truly unique on a cricket tour.

Some of us dropped into the ancient AZTEC Pyramids by Balloon (at dawn), and it proved to be a major highlight. These mighty structures, located in a small village on the fringe of this huge city, and whose original village population of 200,000 people mysteriously disappeared centuries ago, are truly a sight to behold.  Mexico was a great choice and a huge success.


Nothing prepared us for our visit to Havana CUBA, not withstanding the personal investigation and research. “Time worn but magnificent, dilapidated but dignified fun, yet maddeningly frustrating. Cuba is a country of indefinable magic”,  said Ian Fraser.

Within an hour of arrival, we were all blown away and predicting that it would prove to be the tour highlight, we were not wrong!

Our Hotel “ The PLAZA” was old, original and unique, and it was hard won, because several months before, I discovered that you must deal only with TRUSTED people in Cuba. Fortunately Verity came to our rescue.

It was not the first choice but as our bookings at hotel after hotel were mysteriously cancelled, I was left with the few choices that our “Trusted “ person could obtain for us.

But again, I think “ Ian Fraser “ best summed up The PLAZA with …

“I’m glad we stayed here and not at a so called better hotel, because we have lived the flavour of Old Havana not obtainable in other places, which will now quickly disappear as the country opens up. We have been lucky to have come at this time”.

Buena Vista Social Club

The Buena Vista Social Club

The Cafes’, the bars and the hundreds of small family restaurants in “ Old Havana”, each providing some variation of high quality Cuban music, either at street level or small roof top terraces offered us a musical extravaganza unlike any where else we have ever been.

Every single night was exciting. Wherever you walked, there was music and extraordinary happiness and of course, we sought out and found the most famous place of them all … the Buena Vista Social  Club. Recreated from the 50s and 60s with the original artists still belting it out.

Internationally recognised, a highlight of any visit to Havana is of course riding in one of the 1950s /60s American cars. Most of us imagined only a few would be available, but as you walk around you see literally hundreds  of these old unique automobiles, many decrepit, but still running and held together with odd parts and bits of wire, a literal automobile time-warp, created by a desperate political  situation.

But there is a large fleet, owned by enthusiasts, of restored Classics (some still held together with wire),Cruising Havana brightly coloured – Pink, Purple and Iridescent Blues & Greens, Caddys, Chevies, Dodges & Fords. Hard- tops and Convertibles, and for about $30 a car, four of you can cruise the streets for an hour. “Happy days and the Fonz”…here we come!

And the best of all, imagine 12 of us in a 3-car convoy dragging up the middle of the main road, 3 abreast, throttles wide open and the simultaneous mighty growls of 3 V8s thundering past City Hall. Wow!! a drag race to remember.

YEP…Cuba was amazing and if the Government had allowed our much-planned Cricket Match to proceed, it would have been awesome, but it just has to remain amazing.

Note; I am now assured that a future request for a match is likely to be approved on our next tour to CUBA, on Cultural grounds!


Sabina Park Jamaica

Sabina Park Jamaica

I think every Australian Cricketer at some time in his life, has an ambition to play cricket in England and many over 60s players I also believe, their next wish would be  to go to the Caribbean and play Calypso  cricket – a lucky few have now achieved that goal. This is our story!

We were met at the Airport by a VIP delegation compromising The Minister of Sport, members of the local Tourism Commission, leading Businessmen, Journalists and TV reporters. The reception was held in the VIP lounge and we were suitably impressed.

As we enjoyed our drinks, my mind went back to a wild thought which I had last year, “Wondering if we could get to play at the Test ground “SABINA PARK”, a ground where all of our cricket heroes have played. Contacts were made, conversations took place and we got our wish.

Located in Kingston, the Capital of Jamaica, the ground with a capacity of 40,000 has seen some of the greatest matches ever played.  It just had to be on our itinerary.

It was the only match where 100% of our WAGs wanted to attend and they did us proud. And with the Australian flag blowing in the wind, they entrenched themselves on the Members balcony and waited.

SABINA PARK is also home to the “Kingston Cricket Club” and they were our host for the day. They put together a formidable looking team, whom I thought were pretty cocky at the introductions, and not taking the match as seriously as we were. Of course our average age of 68.9,was showing a little bit, in contrast to their 38.2 yrs.

The first ball of the first over, bowled by Kelvyn Anderson cleaned bowled their opening star batsman. The stands erupted, the WAGS screamed and the opposition was silent.  Kelvyn’s 2nd wicket came in his second over and there were ominous rumblings from their captain Paul Campbell.  We dropped a catch in the 4th over and they would have been 3 for 12.  After that they creamed us!

During the game we had a surprise visit from ” The President of The West Indies Cricket Board of Control”… Mr Dave Cameron, and as our players were fielding on his arrival, I asked him if he would like to meet the ladies on the balcony.

I duly called our WAGs to attention to meet our honoured guest, only to be greeted with one of them saying loudly,  “Hang on a minute, we are in the middle of an over”. Dave laughed his head off and stated he would recreate that moment and include it in future speeches that required, “pricking the balloon of self importance” He stayed quite a while and mingled with and met all of our players. In some cases he freely entered into  conversation on the current  importance and contentious issues facing West Indies cricket.

A delightful man whose presence added to the importance of our visit to this wonderful ground.

Every one of our players felt this day was a personal highlight in their long cricket lives, and the team played its heart out.  Unfortunately we did not win.

We ended the game in high spirits and thought just how lucky we were to be alive and playing on this hallowed turf. The match was followed by a formal dinner on the Balcony and those who have earned Australian Blazers, wore them with pride.


Well, what you do is you go to the “Melbourne Club” and play a game against COURTNEY  WALSH, at this, his home club, where he and Michael Holding started their cricket careers…you just  compete against his team…allow him to Captain and bowl to several lucky Australian players.  The luckiest of all being Kel Grant (Geelong) who got to face the full force of the Hurricane, with 8 slips and 1 fielder front of the wicket, and we have photos to prove it.

Another dream day of cricket on a really interesting ground, accompanied by our own boundary Disco man, playing loud Calypso music, which made it hard for Donny Everett to hear his Captain’s fielding instructions, mainly because he was disco dancing along the boundary most of the time.

We left Jamaica knowing that  “we were living the dream”!


Once again, I have been constantly amazed at how each day and City presented new adventures.  In the planning phase you just get “a feeling “ and when it happens, you ought not be surprised, but our second visit to New York produced its own magic for us.

A couple of years ago, when Exotic Tours first visited the USA, we were at the Grand Canyon on ANZAC DAY and we took the opportunity to hold a spontaneous and memorable commemorative ceremony, right on the edge of this mighty chasm.

This tour also presented us with an opportunity to celebrate ANZAC DAY, as we were going to be in New York City on the 25th April.

But this time we planned it………

The Flight deck of the USS INTREPID  – a mighty WW2 Air Craft Carrier, moored in the Hudson River, was chosen as the place to hold this important ceremony.

Surprisingly, the Management team on site were very receptive to our request and gave us the prime position, right in the middle of the Flight Deck.

A small group, headed by Greg Johnson was assembled to pull the day together and it was quite a task.

We had invited the “Australian Consul General “ Mr Nick Minchin and several of his staff to attend and take part in the ceremony, and even though they had attended the New York Dawn service that morning, they honoured us by coming along to ours as well.

Also In attendance were high-ranking Officers from our Military Delegation to the United Nations

Major Scottie Morris

Group Squadron Leader, Kevin Murray

We also sought out from the “Allied Forces Foundation “ the appropriate musicians needed for such an occasion

*A Pipe Major, complete with bagpipes and an Army Bugler                                                                                       

Several members of our group were chosen to speak of their own Family experiences during War, and they spent weeks preparing.

We chose well:

*Bronwyn Simpson

*Peter Dell

*John Costello

*Colin O,Neill

They held the audience and the many curious onlookers enthralled as they related their stories.  The atmosphere created was reverential and many admitted later to having a tear in the eye.

We involved our VIP guests throughout the ceremony.

Wreaths were laid, Flags of three Nations were flown and our Piper and Bugler led the way.

I truly believe none of us will ever forget those 45 minutes and when many of our honoured guests said it was the most unique ANZAC DAY ceremony they had ever attended – we could only smile!

At this stage you are probably saying “I thought this was a Cricket Tour?“

Well it was, because e then headed out to “Staten Island cricket Club”.  Their renowned President,                   ”Clarence Modeste”, once again greeted us and ensured that we had a memorable game on this most famous of all cricket grounds in the USA.

But once again, there was a major surprise ahead.  We got a most unexpected Invitation from our Military guests to accompany them on a Diplomatic Pass for a guided VIP tour of the UNITED  NATION which included rare access to the General Assembly itself and lunch in the Delegates dining room overlooking the Hudson River. We all felt quite important and very privileged.


This was our second invitation to participate at the 26th Annual “Philadelphia International Cricket Carnival”.

Teams from all over the US and several international teams compete in five 20/20 matches over 4 days against mainly 35/40 year olds.

We nearly won 3 matches and I was proud of our efforts, particularly when we were told by each team of their admiration for Australian cricketers and to their amazement that we are all still playing and offering stiff competition.

There is no doubt about it, that wherever we travel we leave good impressions.  Perhaps the greatest honour…belongs to two of our travelling umpires

*Colin O’Neill (Mornington club)

*Martin Betts (Tasmania)

They were selected from a large Umpiring panel to adjudicate the Grand Final.                                           


Along with Melbourne it is often judged “The Worlds Most Liveable City “ and you can see why, the moment you get there, a magnificent deep-water harbour surrounded by snow capped mountains rolling right down into the city fringes.  We instantly felt at home and settled in to a daily routine of exploring this beautiful place and playing cricket.

After competitive matches against the ”Menaloma club” and the “West Vancouver Cricket Club”, who both invited us to return, the group moved into “extra time”.

Several couples headed off to Alaska on a scenic cruise, others caught the “ Rocky Mountaineer Railway “ and headed off on their own adventure, and others decided to tour the  American National Parks, and the balance came home.


Once again we achieved that all important, group harmony, and I want to congratulate each member of the group on the way they conducted themselves.  We travelled as proud lucky Australians living “The Dream”.

It’s hard to be brief in a report of this nature, but like I said at the beginning,

“ There are Cricket Tours and then there are Cricket Tours

This was surely the latter!

Cheers, and I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip.  Perhaps we might see you on the next one?

Derek Braidner

Tours Director – VOSCA (Exotic Tours)


I had only been home for about an hour when I got the first string of questions. How was it ? Did you enjoy it ? What were the highlights ?

Normally easy questions to answer…but this was no ordinary cricket tour. It was no ordinary experience .

CELTIC ICE… Ireland…Scotland…& the land of ice and fire Iceland…..morphed into a grand adventure …. 3 countries…28 people…28 days…11 matches…7 wins…3…losses…1 washout, a Wedding… and a million memories

How can it be that each day seemed to be better than the last. Is that possible?. Ask any of the 28 and they will say…Yes. It started on the first night with a wonderful Australian / Irish sing along in a unique Dublin restaurant and ended on a disappearing black and white glacier in Iceland

Why did it succeed?

You see there were 3 teams that left Tullamarine on July 2nd     —  A Cricket Team, A Group Team and A Management Team

The first one is a given. The second one is what you hope will happen with a group and a melding of personalities but the third has to be created.

We started by giving all 16 players a responsibility on the tour a Job…..They were all important & if anyone stuffed up the group would be the loser. No one stuffed up !!!

And some just shone. Ray Matters was given the impossible job Entertainment & Events Manager with an emphasis on choosing restaurants and places of entertainment and also in charge of

CELTIC ICE SHOWBUS It was an opportunity for all travellers to become “ A STAR “ with their own personal style of ”on the bus“ entertainment. Ray’s detailed planning with John Moore became the energy and driving force on our daily treks. We owe them our thanks

Every day was a memory capsule of its own.

Our first night in Dublin at “ Johnny Foxes” set the tone for our time in Ireland. We sang heartily in a table competition against a Swedish group. We triumphed with our rousing edition of Waltzing Matilda and were mighty pleased with ourselves. Then the room went quiet before the soulfull singer of the Irish band sung “And the band played Waltzing Matilda”. When every nationality in that old room stood and cheered, we were mighty proud.

Our 1st match was at the famous “ Clontarf cricket club ‘ in Dublin where we played The Leprechauns … a group of travelling cricketers with a proud 80 years history of taking on any opposition, local or touring. We arrived at this beautiful ground and were greeted by the Australian flag flying high in the wind. The match was played on a great turf pitch with both teams scoring over 200 runs. We won and celebrated at a wonderful reception afterwards… We were off & running.

For our 2nd game we travelled to Kilkenny 130mls south of Dublin where the Mount Juliet cricket club hosted us on the oldest cricket ground in Ireland. The land was granted by the local Laird 150 years ago on the condition it is to be preserved for cricket “whilst cricket is played there”… Set amongst beautiful farm land and bordered by a river teeming with trout it has 2 pavilions … the old 1913 pavilion and a new 1923 pavilion … not unlike an Irish Iona.

We won the match and were invited to a magnificent private Golf Club for drinks & Dinner. During the day the WAGS visited Waterford Crystal and spent up.

The balance of our time in Dublin was spent exploring this beautiful old city with time given to addressing the Guinness. The best was yet to come!

A Train ride … A Tour guide … A medieval city … An Irish castle … And a Wedding

Two days we will never forget starting with a drive all the way across Ireland from Dublin To Donegal visiting historic villages and being entertained by “Showbus” stars and ending with an elegant and fun bucks / hens formal dinner in a Donegal pub.

The next morning started with a train ride along the beautiful Irish coast ending in the ancient city of Londonderry … Derry to the locals. Our guide for the morning was “ himself” one of only three official 5 star attractions in Nth Ireland… Malcolm McCrossan In the hours to follow he beguiled us with his Irishness. He won our hearts and conquered our minds with his stories and his passion for his troubled but forever evolving home the city of Londonderry. It was a few hours we will not easily forget. But there was just enough time to get back to our Castle for our very own Wedding.

The Wedding

How privileged we all felt to be honoured guests at our friends wedding here at Lough Eske on the other side of the world. Peter & Sally had been planning this event since we came back from our tour to America a year earlier. With the ceremony taking place in the Presidential Suite & the reception in our own private dining room in Lough Eske Castle in the lush Irish countryside….we could easily have been mistaken for country gentry with Peter- the Groom, Greg – the Best man and Derek the Master of Ceremonies all appropriately adorned in authentic full Kilt Dress…..c/w silk Collingwood underpants

And then there was Sally & her bridesmaid Mardi Fraser stealing the show in their million dollar gowns. What a day …what a night…what a memory

Our next match was at Coleraine C.C (Nth Ireland) where we again narrowly won by a couple of runs. It was a hard match and competitive against much younger players. It was appropriate that Gordon Cowling should won our Man of the Match award – at his old club 40 years ago. The Lord Mayor presented us with a city award as the first Australians and first over 60s cricketers to play in his city. It was a huge day..

Home for the next few days was the quaint fishing village of Portrush … our base to tour the sights of the magnificent Antrim coastline. The Giants Causeway and long walks along the cliff face and the Carrick a Reed Rope bridge on a beautiful day were something to behold.

The Cowlings arranged a delightful lunch at the Bushfoot Golf Club where a lucky few were invited to play a round of golf that finished at 10.00pm still in good light.

Our 4th and 5th games saw us being the first Australians to play 20/ 20 games against the Donaghadee Cricket club in their ancient village south of Belfast. There are very few older cricketers in Ireland so we were confronted with big and strong youthful players. When they hit the ball it stayed hit!! Both matches were hard fought and played in a fantastic spirit. And somehow we managed to win both. At the end of play, their President Freddie Gilroy insisted we should “ Address The Guinness”.

It was also the day we checked out the British Health care system for Ray Matters and his badly bruised arm. Three hospitals in Ireland and Scotland, 3 doctors, 2 radiologists and 9 nurses were free. It made us wonder why we had taken out travel insurance.

Dinner ,drinks & award presentations took place at Grace O Neils the oldest restaurant in Nth Ireland. Great speeches with many of the villagers attending. The day became even more memorable with a great rendition of Waltzing Matilda sung in honour of our hosts only to be followed by a strong tenor voice deep within the crowd with an old man singing Danny Boy. I seem to remember a duet and tears. Donaghadee is one of our very favourite places.


Our day in Belfast will live in our memory forever … The 12th of July” March of the Orangemen. We stood on the corner of the Royal Avenue & Donegal place – the epi centre of the start of the march – from early morn where a multitude of incredibly loud ” Fife pipe & Lambag war drum bands” marched off to the traditional gathering place 14 miles out of Belfast ”The Fields of Finaghy“ Over 10,000 men marched from all over Belfast that morning to celebrate the ancient battle victory “ The Battle of the Boyne”

A memorable day ended with dinner in the oldest pub in Belfast where we caught up once more with the Marching Orangemen on their return journey celebrating their “Britishness”

And of course the backdrop to all 5 wins in this beautiful island were the daily drives through the Irish countryside, the villages, the pubs, the people and the happiness of our band of travellers

Our 10 days in Ireland was totally exhausting. We never seemed to stop & of course we never stopped laughing. I left my homeland with a heavy heart … much loved and much remembered


If you have not been to Scotland “You Must” It has without doubt, some of the most beautiful countryside in the world and the Highlands are quite breath taking.

However at this stage we are riding high. The group had gelled beautifully. We were halfway to becoming the Over 60s Invincibles having trounced Ireland 5 times. But how the mighty fall!

The town of Stirling, is set in a lush valley & is of enormous significance in Scottish history, for it was in this village surroundings, that “ Mel Gibson” beat the British in his role of William Wallace in “ Braveheart”

A mighty medieval stone monument to his life towers over the city and a beautiful and formidable backdrop to the Stirling cricket club grounds.

On our 1st day of cricket in Scotland we were beaten so badly I thought William Wallace himself had played. Their captain for the day was a youngish 50 year old former captain of Scotland with 61 International Caps. The team included two imported 21 year old opening bowlers and 4 players from their firsts.

I was umpiring when their captain in making a leisurely 40 or so ,turned to me with incredulity in his voice and said ”This is a really good bowler. Who is this bloke” I turned to him and said “that’s my mate Billy Dobson”. “Who has he played for”. ”Oh he plays for Yarra Valley over 60s”. Billy was on song that day.

The next day our match against the West Lothian C.C was a 10 over wash out and as we gathered in the austere clubrooms to present our small but now traditional gifts. The WAGs had discovered the wine bar and were chanting ” We’re going to Hawaii. We’re going to Hawaii”

The day had been a typical one for us. We were getting used to the rhythm and were happy and relaxed. And in the tiny West Lothian pavilion we found … magic. Their President, slightly embarrassed with our gifts, went home and picked up his wife – a professional harpist and recording artist – and brought her to the clubhouse.

For the next wee while we were enchanted by her hauntingly original Celtic music. As I looked around the tiny little cricket pavilion many shed a happy tear.


With 5 nights in Edinburgh, I knew the city itself would look after us splendidly. It is after all one of the great cities of Europe … set high on a hill with its magnificent castle, extraordinary architectural street scapes, friendly people and pubs. We wandered, explored through the streets and alleyways. And for one we decided to bus it all the way back across central Scotland to the “ Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond” for one of the 12 official Highland Games in the remote Scottish countryside each year

It was a dull drizzly day and the games were held in the middle of the Loch Lomond village park. Traditional events roman wrestling, running and cycling all took place on the grass oval. Ancient and traditional events caber tossing, hammer throwing and bell tossing were great spectacles perhaps only outdone by the Tug O War. A great day and a unique event

Cricket in Edinburgh.

The two main cricket grounds in Edinburgh – the Carlton Cricket Club and the Grange Cricket Club – both host International matches. Both clubs graciously accepted our request for a match, couldn’t guarantee any over 60’s players but offered to find a few oldies for us.


The Carlton cricket club had just celebrated its 150th Anniversary and our own Carlton cricket club in Melbourne was about to celebrate its own 150th Anniversary giving the game extra significance. The swapping and presentation of framed letters of congratulations from each President and Board of management was much appreciated.

We lost our 2nd match on Scottish soil. In the Carlton team were two 2 ladies, both members of the Scottish International team. One had the temerity to whack tour leader Derek Braidner’s best ball over the 600 year old 10ft high stone wall to great applause. Great club, great ground, great cricket, great occasion


The first thing you see when you walk onto the oldest cricket ground in Scotland is the pavilion. Cricket was first played here 44 years after Captain Cook sailed into Botany Bay. W.G. Grace and the Don played here. The 1948 Invincibles played at The Grange. We were to walk in their footsteps … the first Aussie Over 60s team to play at The Grange. The atmosphere was palpable. It would be a day to remember.

The match was brilliant with Kel Anderson (TAS) at his most explosive best. We thought we might until two inspired Aussie ex pats stole the game from us in the last over. We may have been disappointed but we knew we had been part of history and participated in one of the greatest Over 60s matches any touring team could dream of.

It was wonderful when the Professional umpire turns around at the end of the game and said ”We have just restored his lost faith in the game of cricket”

We may be old but that day at The Grange we were good. The Wags and the whole pavilion stood in honour in acclamation as our team walked off the ground. Our gift to the club was a beautiful painting of Bradmans Invincibles that will take pride of place on the wall of this extraordinary cricket club.

SHOWBUS continued

The opportunity to be a STAR was a big part in our enjoyable drives across Ireland and Scotland. It reached new heights in the long drive from Edinburgh to Inverness in the great northern Scottish Highlands. Reluctant, shy, unwilling participant in SHOWBUS shy Greg Johnson (rumoured to have consumed a flagon of sweet sherry beforehand) resplendent in black wig with makeup sprang from the bus toilet to launch his unique rendition ”LOLA”. The audience’s reaction ranged from amused, to alarmed and even disturbed. Others were speechless.


The entrance to the Highlands promised to be an unusual place to play a game of cricket. Again we were the first visiting Aussies to play here. The Rev the Right Honourable the Reverent Richard Burkitt had organised us to play a mixed group – some cricketers, some pub dwellers and some from his drug and alcohol recovery program – that he devotes his extraordinary life to

The match was like its convenor – raucous, rowdy and downright fun. It was a gem of an experience and we will always remember him.

On one of our days in Inverness we took our bus as far west into the Highlands as we could go. Every window had a picture worth painting. It was a photographers dream. Our destination was Inverewe Gardens on the banks of Loch Ewe where Marg Everett and her band of merry ladies had organised a picnic. A picnic in the stunning gardens warmed by gulf stream air was a day to savour.

ICELAND…….The land of fire & ice

For Exotic Cricket tourists, to say we had not just been to Iceland but had played cricket there was the ultimate. We were not disappointed. We managed to fit in two separate full day tours out from Reykjavik into the countryside and the volcanoes & the glaciers

The strange geology of lakes, black sand beaches , snow topped mountains, lush green farmlands massive lava flows, black and white glaciers spectacular beaches and recently erupted volcanoes were breathtaking

Sobering was the thought that the huge glacier – black and white from recent eruptions – was melting beneath our feet.

Anil Thapa – a Nepalese who had settled in Iceland – after many months of negotiations – agreed to organise a game for us. Just 4 before leaving Australia, he called saying he was having finding the pitch. It was buried under two lots of winter ice and summer grass for the last two years. Two days before we arrived they discovered its rough position. We were eternally grateful for their endeavours in preparing the ground and the mesh pitch for our historic match

The Icelandic National Cricket team doesn’t get to play a lot of cricket but they have also never been beaten let alone by a mob of old blokes from Australia. Their average age was 35 including the goal keeper from the Iceland Soccer team who had once seen cricket on Sky News.

Enthusiasm was high, the skills shown varied and a last ball victory by the 65 year old Aussies was sweet. Even the WAGS applauded us off the ground. It was an extraordinary experience. The Icelanders were wonderful hosts and the game played in great spirit. We left a full cricket kit donated by Eane Whitton of Buffalo Sports which was much appreciated.


We now have a lovely tradition of a significant dinner on our final night. It’s an important event for the group, as it allows us to wind down& enjoy each others company for the last time

We held it in an old original fishing hut converted to a rough restaurant on the Reykjavik waterfront “The Baron”. The menu consisted of Icelands only natural resource…Fish, fish, fish, Prawns, Scallops, Whalemeat, fish fish & fish. Don Everett finally got to eat the local famous dish “ Half a Sheep head” with an eye and half a tongue.

There was much merriment and many, good speeches made. There were a few tears in the knowledge we’d had a very special experience. Ian Hammet was heard to say “I have been on many cricket tours in my life but this one is the one by which all others will be measured “

The night also gave the Tour Organiser…the opportunity to finally thank & congratulate those three team I mentioned

A}…The Cricket Team led by ..Greg Johnson & Ian Fraser to 7 wins from 10 matches

B}…The Group Team…How well you bonded together and how lifetime friendships formed. Each time we meet, we will wave and say with a big smile “Hey do you remember !!

C}…The Management Team…Be proud of what you accomplished on this Celtic Ice Tour, it could not have and would not have taken place unless we all did our jobs

It was the adventure of a lifetime and worked as well as it did because of all your efforts

Until the next time

Derek Braidner


  This is a view of Kapiolani Park where our carnival was played… It nestles between Waikiki beach, the   Honolulu Zoo and the famous  Diamond head  escarpment and within walking distance of our hotel “ The Queen Kapiolani “

Its funny how things happen in life.

The idea of a Honolulu visit occurred to me 3 years ago, whilst on a cricket tour to New Zealand with Graham Cuddons Victorian Rebels & Storms tour.

It was there during a chance meeting with the President of the Hollywood cricket club David  Sentence when we were discussing the possibility of touring the USA that I had a vision of playing cricket on Waikiki beach.

By then I had already decided that I wanted to finish my playing days in Exotic places and I thought others may think the same but I kept the beach cricket idea to myself.

Originally I  built Honolulu into our USA tour and established contact with the President of the Honolulu C.C. Mark Berwick. We talked, thought and planned but it was not to be. The timing was all wrong so I put it on the back burner. Eventually it raised its head again and Mark and I entered serious discussions and started the planning phase. I could see the reality but there were 2 big problems

There was only one pitch and in ordinary condition

The HCC was still an unknown & unproven partner

The solution had to lie in a visit to the island of Oahu where we could determine the facts and make a final decision. I asked Greg Johnson to accompany me to help sort things out. We toured Honolulu for a few days checking out hotels and tourist spots. We looked at the ground, we checked out restaurants and bars and eventually had a face to face with Mark.

Mark is a very impressive young man. He’s President of the Honolulu Lawn Bowls club and a resident of Oahu with a cricketing background in Australia with several clubs. He’s a CANDO bloke and saw no major problems in providing the necessary tour infrastructure and replacing the pitch surface.

Between us we formed the view that a major cricket carnival was a viable proposition and that it could also be a big step in positioning cricket as a go to sport on the Hawaiian sports calendar. Greg and I came away from that beautiful island confident we had a plan to make it work.

Invitations went out and filled up quickly. It was a good start. We had 62 registered travellers … the tour was on!!

Early on I had a contact from Martin Betts asking if we needed an umpire. He’d accept the role only if he got to umpire every match.  The man is mad but he turned out to be along with player/umpire Colin O’Neill one of my better decisions. We have much to thank them for.

Amongst the acceptances we had a strong contingent from Tasmania. We looked at the calibre of the players and suggested to Ian Fraser {Tas} that we would like to split them up amongst the 4 teams… I thank him for agreeing.

Greg as cricket manager chose the Captains

Gary Ralph, Ian Rowland, Lloyd Haley and Murray O’Connor

These roles came with great responsibilities as they were invited along with the Management group to establish the Carnival rules and playing conditions setting the template for future Honolulu tours.

As with all tours I need lots of help. Exotic Cricket Tours is not a formal organisation. It is simply a name to describe what we do and its no fun without brother cricketers riding the rocket with you. Greg of course, Billy Dobson, Graham Cuddon, Ray Matters. And  Ross Price who put together our points system and offered valuable advice at the start.

“ Ross” we missed you. You would have had a ball. Perhaps 2015?

The Cricket format we chose was “ Super 9s”

# Four teams

# Nine players a team

# Sixteen/Sixteen overs

# Fifty metre boundaries

Fast, furious & a lot of fun

Our schedule was over  six days in which we played six matches per team…supplemented by four 20/20  challenge matches against the Honolulu Cricket club playing for their traditional  “ Currie Cup”

A perpetual trophy played for over the years, by teams as varied as ..The Australian Navy..The Australian Embassy..& various clubs from Canada

Our 4 teams were given names honouring Hawaiian Islands and Australian native birds

# Oahu Oystercatchers

# Lanai Lyrebirds

# Maui Magpies

# Kauai Kookaburras

And they were appropriately & brightly adorned complete with matching caps

At our pre tour planning meetings we discussed the competitive possibilities which might arise during the week. It was after all ..Hawaii…warm weather  great restaurants..good food.. nice wine..lots of  relaxing surf & pool time…all in all a relaxing holiday

I predicted that

Day 1…would be fun & happy

Day 2…would become a little more serious

Day 3…Very serious

Day 4…Bloody serious

And that’s exactly how it turned out…fun but serious cricket

In the 4 matches against Honolulu { or Marks Mob}

We got thrashed in the first two (24 sixes in one innings). But we won the 3rd match captained by John Costello and in the 4th match captained by Rod Headlam we got to within 11 runs of victory against  teams  with average age of 32 yrs against our average of 64yrs. It was a brilliant effort by both captains and their teams and on the final day we played on Kapiolani Park with Waikiki beach on one side and the majestic Diamond Head volcano dominating the skyline in the other. My vision had become a reality.

Our Carnival was deservedly won by the best team – The Maui Magpies led by Gary Ralph

Derek Braidner – Exotic Cricket Tours