Cricket royalty helps Aussie and Indian sailors combine

Glen McGrath, right, observes as the coin is tossed at the start of a friendly cricket match between combined Royal Australian Navy and Indian teams  at the Prince of Arcot cricket ground in Chennai, India. Photo: Christopher Szumlanski

Cricket royalty helps Aussie and Indian sailors combine

Cricket legend Glenn McGrath opened a cricket game between Australian and Indian sailors during AUSINDEX 2019.

As the crews of HMA Ships Parramatta and Success arrived in Chennai, India, for their first port visit of the bilateral exercise, they took time out from a busy schedule to participate in a friendly cricket match with their Indian Navy counterparts.  

In the name of camaraderie, the Aussies and Indians combined forces to create two teams to play a game of T20 cricket on the grounds of the Palace of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Arcot.

Personnel from HMA Ships Success and Parramatta gather for a group photo with special guest Glen McGrath, centre, before competing in a friendly cricket match with the Indian Navy, held at the Prince of Arcot cricket ground in Chennai, India. Photo: Leading Seaman Christopher Szumlanski

Team Parra and Team Success each had six members of ship’s company, as well as six members of the local Indian Navy cricket team. The combined teams allowed a closer interaction between the two navies while also drawing on the competitive sporting nature that is always present between Royal Australian Navy ships.

Parramatta’s physical training instructor, Leading Seaman Gerard Holland, said the format of integrating the Indian Navy with Parramatta and Success cricket teams created a “great atmosphere of competition and camaraderie”.

“I have never experienced anything like it before while playing sport against foreign navies,” he said.

While  the Heir Apparent to the Prince of Arcot, Nawabzada Mohammed Asif Ali, was present to watch the game, it was cricketing royalty that stole the show: Glenn McGrath opened proceedings and posed for numerous photos with Aussies and Indians.

Parramatta’s navigator’s yeoman, Able Seaman Boatswain’s Mate Dean Gough, got to meet McGrath.

“As a cricket fan, I was excited to have met one of the icons and a legend of the game. We spoke briefly before I asked ‘Pigeon’ for a photo,” Able Seaman Gough said.

“He kindly agreed to pose with us and after the photo I presented him with a Parramatta ship’s coin as a token of our appreciation.”

Although Parramatta opened the batting and set a respectable target of 135 runs, Success were the winners and reached the total with seven balls to spare.

The Aussies struggled with very hot and humid conditions, but it was great day of cricket for all.

The Indians were generous hosts and provided traditional breakfast foods between the change of innings. Both nations exchanged gifts after the game before being invited for an impromptu tour of the palace by the Heir Apparent.

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