Australian Defence Force women will be competing for the first time in the six-nation International Defence Cricket Challenge 2015 to be held in Canberra from 16-29 November.
The challenge presents an opportunity for the six service-level men's and women's teams of the Australian Services Cricket Association to compete against the defence forces of Malaysia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Fiji and Pakistan to both renew and enhance their partnerships through cricket.
All men’s teams will compete in Twenty20 and one-day limited-overs matches in an attempt to be crowned champions.
The women’s teams will compete in Twenty20 matches to achieve the same prize.
Services Cricket Head Coach Warrant Officer Gary Fuss said he was looking forward to seeing the women compete.
“I have been an advocate of women’s cricket for a long time,” he said.
“After trying to get it into Defence for many years, and working with Manager of Cricket Operations, Major Darren Mattison, we achieved this.
“Having so many countries coming here to embrace the spirit of the game is also great.
"It is important to mix in this setting as we work with these countries on a professional level as well – it’s wonerdul to see the Fijian Army field a side for the first time too.”
During the past decade, the Services Cricket Association has conceived, developed and grown the International Defence Cricket Challenge to become the pre-eminent global defence cricket tournament it has become today.
The event aims to foster a spirit of goodwill and healthy competition within the international defence environment.
“A competition like this is not held anywhere else in the world so we are fortunate to be able to host it here,” Warrant Officer Fuss said.
“Incorporating women into the competition is also sending a message to the rest of the world.
"To have nearly 400 participants converge on Canberra to represent their country and defence force is also significant.”
As in previous years, the tournament will culminate in a selected World Defence XI playing an Australian Cricketers’ Association team, comprising former big-name test cricketers whose identity at this stage is under wraps, but will, no doubt, be a drawcard for spectators on the day. For the first time ever an Australian Cricketers’ Association women’s team will be formed to compete against the inaugural women’s World Defence XI team.
The challenge will also provide an opportunity for members of the visiting teams to experience Australian culture and gain an understanding of the Australian Defence Force.
Some Defence personnel had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the captain of the Prime Minister’s XI Mike Hussey and New Zealand team captain Tim Southee on the eve of the Prime Minister’s XI match at a special Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial on 22 October. It recognised the strong links between cricket and the defence forces of both Australia and New Zealand in the 100th year since the landings at Gallipoli.
The ceremony featured the life and sacrifice of Trooper Albert “Tibby” Cotter, the only Australian international cricketer to be killed during the First World War.
Vice President Australian Services Cricket Association and Tournament Director Lieutenant Colonel James Brownlie said the ceremony recognised the sacrifice of all cricketers who had died in the service of Australia and New Zealand.
“Aside from the numerous first class cricketers, and tens of thousands of club players who fought, and died, there have been three test players make the supreme sacrifice – one Australian in the First World War and one from both Australia and New Zealand in the Second World War,” he said.
“Defence sport, particularly cricket, strongly aligns with the ‘Spirit of Cricket’, which promotes fairness, moral courage and personal excellence within teams.”