Army batsman Brigadier Michael Shapland taking a swing. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
The New Zealand Army and Tinui residents exchanged overs of friendly fire on Friday morning in an Anzac cricket rematch.
It was the second cricket match played between Tinui Allstars and the New Zealand Army General’s XI, with both teams keen to establish it as an Anzac Day tradition.
First held in the paddock next to the Tinui pub in 2016, teams this year took to the tennis court behind the War Memorial Hall for a close-quarters cage match.
Conditions were good – if occasionally windy. The only hat-trick was when the umpire’s hat blew off his head and down the pitch.
The army’s first and second batsman hit the ball over the fence early for a six-and-out – with the General’s XI choosing to rebrand them as “distinguished exits”.
The Tinui team had a good range of ages and ability – filling their ranks with teens on holiday.
The General’s XI were a bit older.
“We’re a bit short in the hamstring these days.”
The midday sun and cloudless sky made catching high balls nightmarish, with the army dropping a few.
With the whole team on the pitch, they tried to recruit unconventional substitutes.
“Bring on the dog.”
Tinui team captain, Sam Johnston, had a brief stint at the crease.
“In my head it went better – but it’s a good day out really.
“It’s a good time for us to meet some army people in a pretty informal way.”
Mr Johnston said everyone looked to be enjoying themselves and that it was a good way to get off the farm for a day.
The match was close, but the army managed to take it out 178 runs to 174.
Anzac Day was especially important to the people of Tinui.
The first Anzac memorial service in New Zealand – and the world – was held at Tinui in 1916.
Mr Johnston said the town gets busier every year as commemorations continue to become more important.
“A lot of the community come down, the pub’s buzzing and there’s plenty of people around.
“And you know, we’ve started something now with the game of cricket.”
He said wet weather late in the season meant the paddock they played in last time was too wet for play.
“It’s a bit later in the season now and we’ve had plenty of rain so we’ve changed the format. It seems to be going pretty well.
“Army are obviously up for a game.”
Chief of Army, Major General Peter Kelly, said it did not matter where in Tinui they played. What was important for soldiers and veterans was marking the relationship with the people of Tinui.
“The whole idea of this game is about the spirit and the friendship. The fixture was designed as a way to connect the army and Tinui locals and strengthen their special relationship.
“It’s all been designed around marking the prominence of this town and this community and the way it chose to remember its fallen and the way it continues to do that.”
There was plenty of off-pitch jockeying for extra points and calls for the scorebook to be cooked. Scorekeeper Lieutenant Colonel Aaron Mikkelson was not having any of it, however.
His great-grandfather, the Rev Basil Ashcroft, led the original service in Tinui.
One hundred years later, Lt Col Mikkelson addressed crowds at the Tinui centenary service.
“That was pretty humbling,” he said.
Chairman of the Tinui Anzac Trust Alan Emerson enjoyed the high-scoring twenty-over match.
“It was a real honour for Tinui to host a General and three Brigadiers . . . and a lot of fun.”
He said Tinui will be going to Trentham next year to have another go at taking on the General’s XI and further strengthening the bond between the two sides.
This year’s Anzac service in Tinui will be held at the town’s Memorial Hall on Wednesday 10.30am.