A game of cricket broke out…

Friday night’s North Melbourne v Hawthorn T20 game in Tasmania (Ricky’s Biggest Game of Cricket) was meant to be a hit-and-giggle fundraiser for the Ricky Ponting Foundation, raising crucial awareness for cancer.

Live streamed on the Cricket Australia website and app, the game featured past and present Kangaroos and Hawks players – including Jarryd Roughead, recently given the all-clear to return to AFL after his cancer battle. To round out the teams, Ponting and Peter Siddle played for North and the Bowlologist himself, Damien Fleming (while he only bowled one over of off-spin, he did score 22 runs), represented the Hawks, with Tim Paine and George Bailey guest “umpires”.

Amongst all the goodwill, a decent game of cricket broke out, with Hawthorn posting 174 from 20 overs (a score to rival some of the better BBL games this summer) and North chasing it down in the last over with three wickets left – Siddle belting Hawks four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson for two sixes to win the game.

While the standard of the AFL players’ cricketing skills varied (Roos veteran Mick Martyn is comfortably the worst bowler since Mark Taylor, with a mixture of double bouncers, triple bouncers and ugly full tosses), some players shined: Luke Hodge (40), Grant Birchall (26) and Jack Gunston (26) top-scored for the Hawks, while Isaac Smith (2/9) opened the bowling with some decent left arm swingers. For North, Boomer Harvey looked comfortable making 27 and Leigh Colbert scored 25.

The obvious star was Ponting. Technically, he was out three times early, but some “charitable” umpiring from Paine and Bailey saved him. When Ponting got in his stride, it was easy to forget he hadn’t played since 2013. His 33-ball 62 (with six fours, four sixes and a strike rate of nearly 200) was a joy to watch and put North on track for victory.

Cricket Australia did a fine job with the coverage, with Mark Howard – dedicated to giving fans the best view possible – commentating from the slip cordon at one point. While that cosy relationship is unlikely to transfer to more serious cricket , it was an interesting approach (I wonder how many wanted to secretly see Howie cop one in the field?). Incredibly, this supposedly light-hearted charity game was more entertaining than Australia’s recent ODI romp against a hopeless Pakistan.

For more details about the Ricky Pointing foundation, see the link below.



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