In what was widely regarded as a 'cracking game of cricket', the British Ambassadors XI held on for a well-deserved victory by 23 runs over the Australian Ambassadors XI in Brasília on Saturday.
The toss of the coin favoured the British captain, Oliver Ballhatchett, who chose to bat on a clear, still morning. The openers Simon Kemp and Vinod Kumar put on 35 runs in quick time before a mini-collapse ignited by Juliana Brito (2/23) saw the Queen?s men stall at 3/39. This brought together Matt Featherstone and Rob Wallace, batsmen of some experience. This pair drove the ball fluently straight down the ground and through the covers before Warwick Heaney put an end to their brisk 74-run partnership. Wallace returned to the shade after a well-made 30, with the match evenly-poised at 4/113 in the 19th over.
The Australian bowlers found their line and length in the middle overs and another flurry of wickets saw the British team stumble to 8/133. This phase of the match included a remarkable catch by captain Tim Morris, who held onto a low chance to dismiss his opposite. Heaney (4/41) and Frans van Aardt (2/23) were bowling well in tandem, but Featherstone continued to hit boundaries inside and outside the fence to take back the initiative. His partnership with Paul Davey (21) saw the total take on a healthier appearance as far as the British team and supporters were concerned. Featherstone finally holed out on the point boundary for 74, by which time the total had ticked over to 198 all out in the 31st over.
The response from the Australian Ambassador's XI got off to a rocky start when Rudy Hartmann gave a sharp chance behind for a duck off Ballhatchett (2/35) in the first over. Arvind Kidambi (29) joined Makahu Sparks (31) in the middle and this pair carried on very well until the lunch-break with the southern hemisphere team in a fair position at 1/45 after 10 overs.
As the field heated up in the afternoon sun, so too did the run chase. Wickets fell steadily but were expensive for the British bowlers. Hard-hitting from Heaney (44) and van Aardt (23) had pundits raising their eyebrows at the possibility of an antipodean victory.
At one stage the Aussies needed 45 runs off the last eight overs with six wickets in hand. Then Henrique Dolabella came onto bowl and ripped through the middle and lower order. His impressive spell of 5/26 off seven overs made the run chase suddenly very difficult. Runs dried up in the last few overs as the British bowlers stuck to their simple and effective tactics. It was in the final over that Featherstone (2/27) nonchalantly flicked off the bails to run-out Spiros Scliros to end the innings at 175.
So ended a terrific game of cricket which was thoroughly enjoyed by players and spectators. The trophy now sits prominently within the British embassy for the next year until the friendly rivalry is resumed.