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Transcript of remarks to the Prime Minister's XI Cricket Official Luncheon: Speech, Canberra

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T ransc ript of remarks to th e Prime Minister' s XI Cric ket Offic ial L unc h eon, Canb erra


Prime Minister

PM: It is always great to be at Manuka Oval even if it is a day when we’re looking at a rain-swept oval rather than one that a game is being played on. It’s a lovely place and I have come to enjoy it a great deal as a football ground but it actually makes an even better cricket ground.

And of course the Prime Minister' s X I is an institution in cricket in Canberra and we have seen the fact that crowds were prepared to come out today not even knowing if it would played. It is a great tradition over summer.

It is no surprise that the grand stands here at Manuka are named after the two Prime Ministers most responsible for this tradition as Ian has explained, Menz ies and then B ob Hawke. Of course my predecessor B ob Hawke has done a lot for Australian cricket in his time though I' d have to say, over this summer, I think he has probably put the cause of responsible alcohol drinking back 40 years.

Y ou’ve got to love the way in which we Australians engage with our politicians and engage with our news. Hawkie got more press coverage for downing that beer in what looked to me to be pretty record time than I got in announcing $95 million in cricket infrastructure at Adelaide, Sydney and Hobart.

Next time I make an announcement, expect me to do it with a beer in my hand and to be trying to equal B ob' s best. B ut that' s cricket, isn’t it. A game that brings us all together, that reaches out to people around the nation, wherever they are in the nation, whatever their social status. There is no political barriers to engaging in cricket. Everybody loves it. And you don' t have to be an expert to enjoy the game. I' m absolutely living proof of that.

So whilst today we haven' t had the opportunity to see any cricket, we have of course over the summer enjoyed a lot of cricket. Whether it has been in pubs and backyards or whether it has been at our great grounds around the nation, people have enjoyed their cricket over the weeks that have been.

I' d have to say there has even been a bit of cricket at The Lodge. Tim has been out there playing a bit of cricket. Rueben the dog is learning to field. Though he gets the getting of the ball, itt is bringing the ball back that we are struggling with but Rueben the dog is out there doing a bit of fielding. Though I' d have to say Tim possibly did push it a little bit too far last night with B rad when my team came around for a function.

I think B rad was just being polite when he finally agreed with Tim that the little thing mown in the front of The Lodge equals the Adelaide Oval. That' s nowhere near true but Tim somehow managed to persuade B rad of it during the course of the evening.

So it has been good to be able to spend some time with the players even if we couldn' t watch them play. B rad, of course, a great local boy, a great local player and I thank him for having stepped up to the role of captain, even if he didn' t get to lead the team out on to the field.

Cricket in Canberra has perhaps never been healthier. The Cricket ACT board and staff have done a magnificent job in making sure that this great game continues to prosper here. They do that at the grass roots level all the way up to the B radman oration and particularly the oration at the Australian War Memorial, I think, was something many will long remember. It was a unique event for Australian cricket and rightly was reported around the world.

So, a big thank you to everybody who has made everybody who has made today possible. To the two teams who waited so anxiously to see if they’d get out there and have a go, it wasn' t to be. And as I said last night, two great teams from two great nations. The friendship between Australia and Sri Lanka is a strong one. I joked last night that amongst all of our other common bonds, we love beating the Indian team. I think that is shared between us. B ut the bonds between our countries are much, much, much more than that and, having the two teams ready to play today was part of those bonds between us.

So, let' s look forward to a beautiful sunny day next time we gather here for the Prime Minister' s X I, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy lunch.

Thank you very much.

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