The annual Battle of the Smashers charity cricket game between the Aussies and Kiwis was won by the men in green and gold, but the match will be long remembered for the spirit in which it was played – hard but fair.
There were numerous highlights, former Test fast bowlers Nathan Bracken (Aussies) and Daryl Tuffey (Kiwis) were great captains and gave insights into the class that made them the best in their field; former Wests Tigers rugby league star Pat Richards excelled with the bat with a rapid fire 57 and taking a few wickets; former commando Damien Thomlinson, who lost both his legs, earned everyone’s admiration when he not only opened the batting but kept the Kiwis honest with his deceptive bowling; Boxing Hall of famer Troy Waters – who has battled leukemia – took a hattrick; former New Zealand rugby league player Tyran Smith scored a handy 21, but the star of the Kiwis was former Boston Red Sox baseballer Boss Moanaroa who hammered a brutal 65.
All the players gave their all, Radio 2GB host Chris Smith was great in the field and saved a number of runs, while Gurnam Singh held managed to dismiss Daryl Tuffey when he held on to a catch despite breaking his finger while heavyweight boxing champion Solomon Haumono provided the Kiwis with plenty of punch.
The Aussies needed to dig deep to win when, with nine needed to win seven balls they lost the wickets of former rugby league internationals Brad Clyde and Garry Jack in quick succession. It left author Daniel Lane and marketing guru Rob Horton, a former star of the Eastwood rugby team, to get their team home. Horton obliged when he smashed the second last ball of the game to the boundary.
The Aussies won the Tibby Cotter Cup, named in honour of the former Test cricketer Albert ‘Tibby’ Cotter who dies during the charge of Beersheba by the Australian Light Horse 100 years ago.
Coach Al Sparkes, a decorated former member of the NSW Police, commended players from both teams for the manner in which the game was played, saying it was a reflection on the ties that bind Australia and New Zealand as brothers.
The match raised funds for Veterans Off the Street Australia (VOTSA), an organisation that provides emergency accommodation for those servicemen and women who have trouble trying to readjust to society after serving in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a lovely touch, the father and son combination of Michael and Steve Starks, who did a splendid job of officiating the day, donated their match fees to VOTSA.
It was a highly successful day and planning is already underway for Battle of the Smashers VII in 2018.