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Russians unable to identify third man

The World Today - Thursday, 18 June , 2009 12:50:00

Reporter: Scott Bevan

PETER CAVE: It may be just weeks before the Ashes test series gets underway, but the great rivalry
on the cricket pitch between Australia and Engalnd is already firing up in the most unlikely of
places.

A team from Melbourne, called the Crusaders, has become the first Australian cricket side to play
in St Petersburg, taking on some expat Poms. While the Australians were delighted to be making
history, the Russian spectators struggled to make sense of the rules.

Our Moscow correspondent Scott Bevan reports from St Petersburg.

SCOTT BEVAN: For almost two centuries, the Mikhailovsky Garden has been a place of repose in a city
that has seen so much tumult, as empires have risen and fallen. But this famous St Petersburg park,
behind the Russian Museum and next to the majestic domes of the Church on Spilt Blood, is about to
be the scene of a bitter battle.

PLAYER: Let's do it for Australia.

SCOTT BEVAN: The Crusaders cricket team from Melbourne, comprising players aged from 16 to a little
over 60, is taking on a side put together by the local British Consulate. As he ties a flag around
a tree, Australia's Honorary Consul in St Petersburg, Sebastian FitzLyon, says history is about to
be played out.

SEBASTIAN FITZLYON: This is the very first time that the Australian flag is here and that we have
the opportunity to beat the Poms on Russian soil.

(Sound of a lawn mower)

SCOTT BEVAN: On what is hallowed ground for Russians, a small team of gardeners prepares a pitch.
The woman behind the mower, Nadezhda Georgiyevna, isn't prepared to predict who will win the match.

Australia?

NADEZHDA GEORGIYEVNA: Australia.

SCOTT BEVAN: "Maybe Australia", she says, "may God help you".

As Crusaders captain Geoff Hart and his counterpart, British Consul-General William Elliott,
inspect the pitch, the Australian thinks the gardener's blessing may come in handy.

GEOFF HART: It's called a green top back in Australia. We don't see too many of those. So, it'll be
interesting to see how it plays.

SCOTT BEVAN: The match gets underway, and soon former AFL umpire Peter Marshall has the distinction
of becoming the first Australian batsman ever given out in St Petersburg.

PETER MARSHALL: I've been run out, direct hit, in Russia. That's unbelievable.

SCOTT BEVAN: While the Australian supporters do their vocal best to turn the refined surrounds of
the Mikhailovsky Garden into the MCG's Bay 13 ...

(Chanting of "oi, oi, oi")

SCOTT BEVAN: A couple of dozen Russian spectators are trying to work out what's going on.

ELENA NAYDENKO: It's something new, something unusual for Russia.

SCOTT BEVAN: While watching the game unfold, Elena Naydenko arrives at this conclusion about
cricket.

ELENA NAYDENKO: It's for intellectuals I think because of its rules. Only an intellectual can
understand the rules.

SCOTT BEVAN: The Australians win the match, and the Crusaders' founder Swan Richards is humble in
victory.

SWAN RICHARDS: I think it's beautiful, beating these Pommy boys.

SCOTT BEVAN: Yet the British players are quick to remind that the Australians may have won this
cricket battle, but the Ashes war has not even begun.

This is Scott Bevan in St Petersburg for The World Today.