Cricket a common language across Defence

Published on LEUT Andrew Ragless (author), LSIS Helen Frank (photographer)

Location(s): Suva, Fiji

Topic(s): HMAS Canberra (L02), Cricket

HMAS Canberra's Engineering Officer, Commander Guy Lewis presents cricket gear to the Fijian cricket association on behalf of Cricket New South Wales. (photo: LSIS Helen Frank)
HMAS Canberra's Engineering Officer, Commander Guy Lewis presents cricket gear to the Fijian cricket association on behalf of Cricket New South Wales.

On the way home from Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), HMAS Canberra has delivered cricket equipment and clothing to the Fijian Cricket Board on behalf of New South Wales Cricket.
 
The gifting took place during Canberra’s second visit to Fiji following the ship’s humanitarian and disaster relief mission to the island nation in March this year.
 
A T20 game between the ship’s company and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces was also scheduled but cancelled at the last minute when a tropical storm ensued.
 
Canberra
’s Engineering Officer, and President of Navy Cricket, Commander Guy Lewis facilitated the exchange.
 
“It was unfortunate that, for the second time, monsoonal weather prevented a Fiji vs Australia match on home turf but the enthusiasm was very much evident,” said Commander Lewis.
 
He said despite the inclement weather, it did not put a dampener on the increasing ties between the two armed forces.
 
“Fijians are widely known for their rugby ability, as opposed to cricket, so it was a surprise and a privilege for Australian Defence Force Cricket to host the Republic of Fiji Military Forces Cricket Team last year,” he said.
 
The Fijians took part in the International Defence Cricket Challenge held in Canberra in November.
 
The two week competition featured men and women’s Defence cricket teams from Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom,Pakistan, Malaysia and Fiji, all with the aim to enhance ‘Defence Unity Through Cricket’.
 
“The Fijian team had not previously played any cricket outside of Fiji and during challenge their game noticeably improved,” Commander Lewis said.
 
“Their achievements included beating the Australian Army Barbarians team and running a couple of the other sides close during their games,” Commander Lewis said.
 
Director of Republic of Fiji Military Forces Cricket, Lieutenant Colonel Alipate Vosaicake, said the donation by was significant.
 
“The equipment is greatly appreciated and will help develop grass roots cricket in Fiji,” he said.
 
“We’re very grateful to Canberra for the delivery and for the opportunity to catch up with our friends from the Royal Australian Navy team.”
 
Cyclone Winston, the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded to make landfall in Fiji swept through the island nation on 20February, causing 44 deaths and affecting up to 350,000 people.
 
HMAS Canberra responded swiftly with emergency aid.
 
Commander Lewis said the experience for Canberra’s ships company and embarked forces was very rewarding.
 
“It has been a privilege to return to see a stronger community and provide increased ‘Defence Unity’ in helping the nation back on its feet."