Navy cricketers a hit on UK tour

This article has photo gallery Published on Scott Rutherford (author), Unknown (photographer)

The Combined Services women’s cricket team celebrate a wicket, taken by AB Sarah Beard (without cap) in their match against the UK Armed Forces at Burton Court, Royal Hospital Chelsea. (photo: Unknown)
The Combined Services women’s cricket team celebrate a wicket, taken by AB Sarah Beard (without cap) in their match against the UK Armed Forces at Burton Court, Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Royal Australian Navy sailors starred with the bat and ball during a tour of the United Kingdom by the men's and women's combined services cricket team last month.

Able Seaman Maritime Logistics Support Operations Sarah Beard scored the first ever century for an Australian women's combined services team member, hitting 110 off 107 balls against the British Army.

Also a medium-pace bowler, Able Seaman Beard, from Sydney base HMAS Watson, said the century would not have been possible without encouragement on the ground.

"The batting conditions were perfect, the pitch was flat and hard and the outfield was lightening fast, but what helped me reach my hundred was the support from my teammates and my fellow batting partners," she said.

"The girls played exceptionally well with both ball and bat and it is one win that we will look back at and talk about for years to come."

In the men's team, Able Seaman Combat Systems Operator Corey Evans, from frigate HMAS Newcastle, also impressed, amassing 302 runs in seven games at an average of 77.

Able Seaman Marine Technician Matthew Lyons from HMAS Stirling in Western Australia, performed strongly also.

Their 148-run partnership during the side's final match against the UK Armed Forces, also known as 'The Other Ashes', summed up the sailors' tour and won the men the match at a time when the side was languishing at 2-13.

Able Seaman Lyons scored a dashing 78 while Able Seaman Evans' score of 138 was a scintillating mix of power, stroke-play and cricket intelligence.

In the Australian score of 342, the Lyons-Evans partnership was one run more than the entire UK Armed Forces team could make in reply, being bowled out for 147.

The match, played at the Lord's Cricket Ground, was watched by a number of dignitaries, including the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, the Honourable Alexander Downer, and the UK Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach.

In total, the men's team won six games from eight while on tour, with one loss to the British Army and another match called off due to rain.

The women's team won five games from nine, winning all matches against the UK single services and a particularly gritty victory against the UK Armed Forces in their final match at the historic Burton Court, Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Tour Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel James Brownlie, said he was proud of both sides' performances on and off the field.

"The unity of purpose and sheer will to win displayed by both the men's and women's teams through the tour was first class," Lieutenant Colonel Brownlie said.

"In a sea of very high performers, Corey Evans and Sarah Beard were outstanding in all facets. Once again, we were able to further our motto of engendering Defence unity through cricket."

The following members also represented the Navy with honours: for the women, Lieutenant Mel Pring, Petty Officer Nadine Block, Leading Seaman Tash Wilson, Leading Seaman Carly Smith, and Able Seaman Chelsea Veney; and for the men, Able Seaman Matt Shean, Petty Officer Luke Grimmond, and Petty Officer Steven Sheakey.

Chief Petty Officer Jim Harrod was an umpire, and Warrant Officer Gary Fuss travelled from the Australian High Commission Honiara to be the men's coach.