Wagga Wagga in the Riverina of New South Wales was the site of the 2016 Australian national IFCR festival. Along with 41 Australian IFCR members the presence of 7 members from India headed by IFCR world president Ravi Raman from Chennai, John Dean from New Zealand and Norman Brown from England added a further dimension to the festival.
An enjoyable Opening Function at the Wagga Wagga Art Gallery took the form of a Mayoral Reception with the mayor being our own IFCR member Greg Conkey.
The organisers’ plan was to have 4 teams play on the Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on 4 turf grounds – the Robertson Oval (which has hosted first class cricket), the Geoff Lawson Oval, the Mark Taylor Oval and the Michael Slater Oval. Unfortunately recent floods had made all these grounds unplayable but the 2 nearby recently-laid synthetic pitches at the Duke of Kent field saved the day for our festival. Four teams named the Indian Masters, Gumly Gumly, Grong Grong and Book Book were to play each other in 40 over games on the first three days with mixed teams on the final Friday.
Monday morning dawned with heavy rain preventing any play in the morning and causing the decision by the organisers to play a 20 over game in the afternoon.
Tuesday morning brought heavily overcast and cool weather which threatened rain but a full days’ play ensued albeit with a few light showers. A novel feature on Tuesday was the regular meeting of the hosting Rotary club (Wollundry Wagga Wagga) with a barbecue during the lunch break.
Morning tea at the cheese factory
Thursday dawned bright and sunny for a full 40 overs each way played without interruption. An excellent evening comprising a farm visit and bush gathering was enjoyed by many at David Benn’s property, entertainment being provided by an award-winning mens’ choir and by bush poetry recitations. The guests were warmed on a cool evening by a large bonfire.
Pleasant weather greeted the players for the start of the Friday mixed game. Prior to play John Gray unveiled his novel and very fair method of allocating players to the 4 teams. He produced a pack of cards and selected the 4 aces before inviting each of Graeme Amoore, Robert Queale, Norman Brown and Andrew Maunder, as team captains, to select a card – their teams being respectively clubs, hearts, spades and diamonds. The four wicket-keepers then selected from the 4 kings in the pack while all remaining players selected a card from the pack to determine their team. Hearts played Diamonds and Clubs played Spades.
The Closing Function at the Commercial Club had local movie performer and writer Mark Grentell as the main attraction with a most interesting talk on his movie Backyard Ashes which has had widespread distribution through theatre, television and also DVD.
Neil, John and Mary, Manoj, Richard and Jill, Vipul, Udayan and Manish
David Benn, John Gray, Jim Gibson and all their helpers are to be congratulated on putting together a successful festival enjoyed by all local and international guests.