Brisbane, Australia's Ned Flanders Cricket Club Takes on the World
Fri, Jun 29, 2012 1:09 AM
In June this year, Australian club cricket side the Ned Flanders XI are embarking on the fifth leg of their unique mission. Their ambitious goal is to play international teams in all six inhabited continents and to spread their passion for cricket to some of the world's less cricket mad countries. This next tour embraces North America. First stop on their adventure is Los Angeles where they will play the famous Compton Cricket club, before taking on the LA All Stars (a mixture of the best crickters in LA). The international matches commence with a game against the Mexico National XI in Cancun and then the Flanders take on Central America heavy weights, Belize in Belize City.
Of course the men of the Neddies will not just be playing cricket. In LA there will be opportunities to see the sights and indulge in plenty of American hospitality. Universal studios and Disneyland top the bill and the chance to catch some live local sport is enticing. Vegas will offer plenty of chances for hangovers and fun, without any cricket commitments. The chances of selecting eleven fit and healthy men to play cricket during a three day trip to Vegas were remote so the Neddies decided to omit a game against the locals.
In Cancun, the men in their proudly maroon Ned Flanders caps will have a T20 match under lights against the local Cancun side, before taking on Mexico the following day. The Maya ruins of Chichen Itza will be a must see tourist destination as well. The Caribbean Sea and its sun drenched beaches will be a huge highlight in Belize, before the boys round out their playing commitments with a 50 over match against the host's national XI.
As part of the Flanders commitment to fostering cricket in some unlikely countries, they will run extensive coaching clinics for the locals in LA, Belize City and Cancun.
International travel is not a novelty to the Neddies. Already the proud club has toured overseas on three previous tours. In 2006, they took on Vanuatu in Port Vila. With swaying coconut palms and the sparkling blue Pacific Ocean as the backdrop, the Neddies came away with a hard fought 2-0 series win. Two years later, Japan was the destination. Ranked 29 in the world at the time, the men from the 'Land of the Rising Sun' were a tough opposition, and the Flanders snuck home in the final over to record a famous heart stopping victory. A victory made even tougher by an ill- timed climb to Mt Fuji's 3776 meter peak the previous day. In 2010, the Flanders took on a massive tour, spanning three countries and two continents. The Sporting Alfas, Spain?s premier provincial side took up the Flanders' challenge at Albir, on the magnificent Mediterranean coast. Four matches against Morocco's National XI saw a four 'nil Flanders sweep and the undefeated tour was completed on perhaps the planet's most picturesque cricket ground in the foothills of the Rock of Gibraltar. Gibraltar was put to the sword with Matt Dillon recording the club's first ever International century. The undoubted highlight of this tour was the coaching clinics held at Marrakech. With cricket just starting to make inroads into the Moroccan sporting psyche, the Flanders were privileged to hold a coaching clinic for over 300 school children at Morocco?s National stadium. With many dignitaries like the South African and Pakistani Ambassadors in attendance the team felt they were an integral part of spreading the gospel of cricket in a nation with immense cricketing potential.
Although the thrill of winning matches overseas is exciting, the smiles on young kids' faces as they learn about the sport that we all take for granted is the most rewarding aspect of touring. The mateship that has been at the core of the club over the 16 years of its existence has been galvanized even more fanatically by touring as a group. If travel is fun on your own or even with your best mate, try to imagine what it's like travelling with up to 20 of your best mates. Throw in all the wives, girlfriends and families, and touring with the Flanders makes for some life defining memories.
In 2014, the Ned Flanders club will travel to South America and beyond, to rack up their sixth continent, and then who knows, Antarctica might even be an option. Perhaps a few penguins might give the Neddies a game.
Sunday 24 June: Ned Flanders XI Vs Compton Cricket Club and
Ned Flanders XI Vs LA All Stars