The modest silver bowl is engraved with the words: British Ambassador’s XI vs Australian Ambassador’s XI, Annual Cricket Match, Brazil. It bear the names of the winning teams from 2002 up to 2011. There will be more engraving to be done after the trophy is once again contested on Saturday, May 26, in Brasília.
The Ambassador’s match is a friendly game, but not too friendly. In the tradition of the Ashes test series played between the great cricketing nations of England and Australia, there is a healthy rivalry that brings a special atmosphere to the game. Players are invited to join the teams by the respective captains. Teams are made up of ambassadors and staff from other embassies such as India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka, local ex-pats, interstate journeymen, and in recent years, local Brazilian players who have embraced the tradition.
Since the trophy was forged in 2002, the Australian ambassadors have claimed it on six occasions, the British ambassadors, four. In 2012, the sixtieth year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the British team is determined to prevent the unthinkable – losing three years in a row. The Australians are equally determined to accomplish that feat.
The match this year will be played at Clube Nipo for the third time. The field sits beside the city lake on Avenida das Nações. In past years it was played on the sports fields of the University of Brasília and the Parque de Cidade. As in other years, it will be a 35-overs-a-side match, starting at 10.00am and finishing around 4.00pm, depending on the skills of the players and the vagaries of the pitch.
In the evening, cricketers exchange their whites for tuxedos to attend the May Ball at the residence of the British Ambassador. There, over fine food and wines, rivalry gives way to revelry. Victors and vanquished celebrate with a camaraderie unique to this great game of cricket.