English, Australians play a 15-over friendly at Boeung Keng Kang
REPRESENTATIVES from Australia and England's expat communities met at Boeung Keng Kang High School on Sunday to celebrate the start of the 2009 Ashes tour with a friendly 15 overs match. It may not have been Cardiff, and it certainly wasn't Lords, but the cricket was of a fairly high standard, fought with plenty of spirit. In the end, the English team emerged victorious, having set the Australians a score 175 for 6 from their innings, with the antipodeans managing 143 for 8.
The Australians took the field first, cutting a dash in their green-and-gold team shirts. A shocking start left the English floundering on six runs for two wickets, before captain Chris Dring approached the crease with a swagger of confidence. He pulled the first delivery over square leg for six, and drove the second along the ground for four past mid on. This steadied the boat, and partnerships followed with Adam Mallard and Christian Field. Rana Asif dominated over the bowlers in the mid-order, top scoring with a wonderful 45.
The Australians remained cheerful and confident during the lunch break, despite English suggestions that the innings prophesised success at home. Free-flowing refreshments were provided by Majid Wazir and his restaurant, Saffron, with barbecued pork replacing the smell of cut grass and linseed oil, as the sun reached its highest point in time for the English bowlers to warm up.
The English seemed to be on a nostalgia trip early in the Australian innings with smoking on the boundary reminiscent of the days of Phil "The Cat" Tufnell.
The Australians made a strong start, with Lachlan Pontifex opening with 30 and Adam McNeil retiring on 44. Skipper Matt Duckworth was bowled for one, and his dismissal marked the beginning of an Australian collapse. Tenacious in the field and accurate with the ball, the English never allowed Australia's mid-order to settle. The run rate fell well below what was necessary, and as the final overs approached, an Australian recovery became beyond them.
The Australian team, an amalgamation of embassy staff, lawyers and teachers, were gracious in defeat and assured their opposition that a different story would emerge as the official Ashes series progresses over the coming weeks. The English contigent went home feeling rather surprised by the result.
Thanks go out to captains Dring and Duckworth for organising the event, and to Saffron restaurant for the catering.