Former Australian cricketer Michelle Goszko was a little circumspect when she helped get out Governor-General David Hurley in a charity cricket match on the lush green lawns of Government House in Canberra on Thursday.
"I didn't mean to get him out," she said. "This might be my last day of cricket at the Governor-General's house." She also threw a mighty ball to get out one of the GG's team mates.
"I think that was the Indian ambassador," she said, sheepishly.
The wicket keeper who stumped General Hurley from the fielding of Goszko was one of the charity's sponsors, Ian Munro. An Englishman.
"It's just getting ahead for this year's Ashes," he said, with a laugh.
The light-hearted event was a celebratory match to mark the end of the first National Backyard Cricket Day campaign, run by Batting for Change to raise money to improve education in cricket-playing developing countries as well as libraries in rural areas of Australia.
Retired Canberra-born cricketer Ryan Carters, a former Radford College student, founded Batting for Change in 2013 as a fundraising arm of The Learning for a Better World (LBW) Trust. Batting for Change has since raised more than $1 million.
The former Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers batsman was on hand on Thursday to play alongside the Governor-General.
"I've played at the MCG, the SCG and Lord's but never played at the Governor-General's house, so this is a one-off for me," Carters said.
"It's really exciting to see people, not just in Canberra, but all around Australia getting behind National Backyard Cricket Day. We've raised more than $50,000 already. There's still an opportunity to go to nationalbackyardcricket.com to make a donation or organise your own game in your backyard.
"While we're all having a lot of fun today and a laugh, the really important thing is we're supporting education for people who've grown up in poverty throughout the cricket-playing world and also for people in regional Australia who've had a really tough year with COVID and need all the help they can get right now."
The match featured financial supporters of Batting for Change, diplomats from cricket-playing countries, including the ambassadors or high commissioners from Afghanistan, Nepal and India. Farmers from the Riverina were also invited to play, one of whom had some classic sledges, including "Come on mate, you couldn't catch COVID".
Mr Hurley proved to have a strong batting arm and his wife Linda participated by first singing her own composition to welcome Batting for Change to Yarralumla and then acting as the runner for her husband. There were Government House-specific rules for the game including six and out if the ball went into the shrubs and a 10-run bonus if the ball hit the 1968 sculpture Brolga.
"It was interesting because the GG had his wife do the running for him so they were a little combo which, I guess, is very symbolic of their life together," Carters said.
"He hit a couple of nice strokes, maybe could get a run in grade cricket if he puts his mind to it."
General Hurley joked that "any broken windows are for a good cause" but Government House escaped unscathed. The monster hares roaming the grounds obviously hadn't got their teeth into the manicured lawns.
"The pitch is ready. A bit green in top. I went out and did the key test this morning, lost my key, so there's a bit of grass on it so watch if you're batting. But this should be fun," he said.
"It's just great to use such as a fantastic sport and game as cricket for a really good cause."
General Hurley praised Batting for Change and the LBW Trust for transforming lives through the power of education.
"I think when we provide opportunities for young people, it's not so much opening doors for them, but it is showing to them how many doors there are," he said.
General Hurley said the LBW Trust had helped thousands of tertiary students in developing, cricket-playing countries. As the first person in his family to complete tertiary education, he knew the opportunities education could bring to not only an individual, but their wider family.
He said a profound and moving statement by one of the students helped summed up the effect of the programs.
"A young lady said, 'My life has truly changed compared to before. Right now, I know I'm going to be someone'. That's the gift you give, through simply playing cricket and donating to this cause," he said.
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