Success team plays cricket against royalty

Published on WO Justin Moore (author), ABML-SC Courtney Smith (photographer)

Location(s): Chennai, India

Members of HMAS Success ships' company participate in a friendly cricket match with the Prince of Arcot XI team in Chennai, India. (photo: ABML-SC Courtney Smith)
Members of HMAS Success ships' company participate in a friendly cricket match with the Prince of Arcot XI team in Chennai, India.

A team comprised of crew from HMAS Success has played cricket against Indian royalty at the Amir Mahal Palace Cricket Ground in India during their recent port visit to Chennai. 

The Success XI competed for the Cricket Friendship Cup against the Prince of Arcot’s XI as part of Madras Week celebrations. 
Cricket is serious business in India and the Prince of Arcot, His Highness Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali, is a huge fan. 

As the Patron of the Prince of Arcot Trophy, a T20 tournament held annually in the Tamil Nadhu region, the arrival of a Royal Australian Navy ship during Madras Week proved the perfect opportunity for some ‘Cricket Pitch Diplomacy’.

His Highness invited the ship's company of Success to play a T20 format game at the Palace Cricket Ground. 

The Prince of Arcot’s XI was captained by the heir-apparent, Dewan to the Prince of Arcot, Nawabzada Mohammed Asif Ali, who is an accomplished cricketer in his own right, playing in the Indian State Cricket League.

Leading Seaman Boatswains Mate Jared Davis said he felt privileged to be named captain of the Success team. 

“It meant that I was required to liaise with His Highness prior to the game and have got to know his son quite well,” he said.
“We plan to stay in touch.”

The Success team performed well on the day, particularly noting the strong competition they faced. 

Importantly though, the interactions between the two teams was one of respectful rivalry with some good banter along the way. 
By the end of play, the Success team was soundly beaten on the field; however, proved that sport is still a great medium for relationship building.

Immediately following the game Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Her Excellency Ms Harinder Sidhu, awarded the trophy to the winning team and made comment on the importance of the two cricket loving nations working together in order to continue building on an already strong relationship.

The Prince of Arcot invited all those in attendance to an afternoon tea inside the Palace upon completion of formalities.
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Brendon Jordan enjoyed a particularly memorable match.

I had a great day and played alright. The Prince awarded me the best player award, so that was a real honour," he said.

“To be invited inside the Palace was something else. We turn up here on a ship, and now I’m drinking coffee with a Prince.”  

A contingent of sailors and officers also visited the Olcott Memorial Higher Secondary School which provides education to disadvantaged children.Success volunteers were enthusiastic about their chance to help those less fortunate.

“I’ve been in the Navy for less than a year and have already had so many amazing experiences. So far this deployment we have done work at a clinic in Dili, visited an orphanage in Thailand, and now this, it’s great,” said Seaman Boatswains Mate Chelsea Soames.

Her Excellency, Ms Sidhu also joined them for a morning of interaction and sport. Together, they met with the School’s Year 11 students and spent some time getting to know each other. The ship’s Padre, Chaplain Jon Cox warmed the group up with some tales from the sea that all in attendance enjoyed. Ms Sidhu then explained the importance of the relationship between India and Australia and the significance of a Royal Australian Navy ship arriving in Chennai. 

Leading Seaman Marine Technician Drew Craven said the visit had been a great experience. 

“It was great to see the High Commissioner turn up, she really emphasised the importance of our role in the region.” 

As part of the visit, the Australian High Commission donated some much needed sporting equipment to the school that was gratefully received by staff. This was followed by a highly competitive volleyball game dominated in the end by the team from the school. 

The visit represented a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of the crew and again highlighted the importance of regional engagement by Royal Australian Navy units.