As cricket aficionados across the globe were relaxing in their arm chairs cheering on their teams in the World Cup Cricket, or sitting on the edge of their seats at one of the magnificent, lush green sporting arenas across Australia and New Zealand, another equally fiercely contested championship was unfolding in Oodnadatta. No turf wicket here, no manicured outfield to break the fall of spectacular catches, no grand grandstands or Pimms tents, just a fantastic show of outback community spirit and determination.
Saturday March 14th saw the annual and eagerly anticipated Oodnadatta Town vs Stations 20/20 cricket match. Now in its third year, the programme is coordinated by the Oodnadatta Racing and Horse Sports Club, another event on the annual calendar that brings outback people together. Each year the committee selects a charity to whom proceeds from the day will be donated and themes the day accordingly. This year the deserving charity is CFS.org, a charity that assists our volunteer fire fighters and their families. This was especially close to our hearts following the sad passing in the line of duty of Brian Johnson, father of our former policeman Jeremy Johnson. The theme was the colour red.
By 3:00 pm, the cricket pitch had been rolled out and a boundary spray-painted on the hard ground usually used as a car park at the Oodnadatta Race Course. Four marquees had been erected to provide shelter for the crowd and refreshments as required. With a grant gratefully received from Outback Communities Authority, a new kit of bats and balls was produced and the game was ready to roll.
In the previous two contests, the Stations team had been victorious but with steely resolve and a few new recruits, the Town team was determined to make amends and have their name on the perpetual trophy. Stations won the toss and went in to bat. Some impressive tallies were achieved, with Matt Williams on 33, Jake Fennell on 30, and extras scoring well, but the team was eventually bowled out for a score of 154. The Stations team soon knew that the Town team meant business, with some outstanding bowling from Raymond Stapleton and Matt Sampson. Following a well-deserved refreshment break, the Town team took to the pitch. Despite the best efforts of the station bowlers, the required target of 155 was soon reached with three overs to spare, the runs being piled on in convincing form with a 44 by Matt Sampson, 30 for Corey Jonas, 28 by Raymond Stapleton and 21 from Cooper Bailes.
Congratulations to the Town team. It was a great competition and enjoyed by a sizeable crowd, most of whom had embraced the red theme.
Following the main game a scratch match ensued, enjoyed by many still keen for a hit. In the evening, ORHS provided a barbecue dinner and salads, with sausages generously donated by The Miners Store in Coober Pedy. The presentation saw the trophy presented to the Town team. Man of the match went to local policeman Matt Sampson representing the Town team. He scored 41 runs, took 2 wickets and a good catch. Best for the Station team was Matt Williams, with 33 runs and 2 wickets. Helen Williams from Nilpinna was surprised with a belated 60th birthday cake and the night proceeded with a few drinks, some dancing and a lot of fun.
Events such as these are an integral part of outback life. Usually run by small committees of volunteers significant sums of money from proceeds made are donated to charity. In the last 10 years alone, ORHS has donated more that $146,000 to numerous organisations including RFDS, the Cancer Council and Angel Flight.
Keep your social calendars free for upcoming outback events including the William Creek Gymkhana on March 28, Coober Pedy Opal Festival at Easter; Oodnadatta Races on May 9th and the National Bronco Branding Finals in Oodnadatta on July 18th.