By Andrew Gillespie

In 2014, Lords celebrates its 200th anniversary. The undisputed home of cricket, Lords is hallowed ground, Tierra Sancta, sacred turf for millions of cricket lovers around the world. Its features are synonymous with cricketing glory – the Long Room, its walls a mosaic of portraits of cricketing heroes; the Old Father Time weather vane, forecasting the end of the day’s play; the spacecraft-like Media Centre peering out over proceedings. There is something natural about Lords as the home of cricket, something innate, something spiritual. It is as if the struggles, the emotion, the excitement, the buzz, the crowd have seeped into the very foundations of the park so that the ground is as much a part of the game as the game itself.

Much the same could be said about the home of cricket in Brasilia, Clube Nipo. How could one not feel the essence of leather on willow at a baseball diamond at a Japanese club? Its prison-like spectator cages, its savannah grass outfield, its surface-of-mars-with-cheesegrater-qualities infield – they all scream “cricketing heartland”.

It was the Clube that played home to the sporting and social event of the Brasilia calendar in 2014, the UK vs Australia Ambassadors’ Match. So momentous was the occasion that the Clube even mowed two-thirds of the field for the game, leaving celebratory pyramids of grass no doubt intended as temples to the cricketing gods.


In the immortal words of a Richie Benaud imitator, it was a “stinking #*@%ing hot day” that greeted the players arriving to the ground.

The pre-game saw plenty of posturing, sledging and mind-games. The UK team took to the nets to show off its fast-bowling stocks, its intimidatory tactics thinly veiled by excuses of “warm ups” and claims of “I haven’t played for 12 years”. The Australian team milled about trying to sell gemstones to people.

The presentation of caps by Ambassadors Lawless and Ellis brought to the game the sort of formality the Nipo Oval/Diamond deserves, and a chance to eye up each team. From the whiteness of the thighs and crookedness of the smiles, there was no doubting the UK team was British through and through, tempered though it was by a streak of Brazilian flair, Indian fervour and French surrender. The Australian team reflected the immigrant roots of the Great Southern Land, albeit with fewer convicts. Pulled from all corners of the globe, Trinidad, Brazil, Sri Lanka, India and New Zealand came together to don the not-so-baggy green of the Lucky Country (what is so lucky about a country where nearly everything will kill you beats me. Maybe you need to be lucky to survive the 50 degree heat and brown snakes).

Winning a crucial toss, the UK elected to bat – a wise choice on a carpet wicket that would likely fade in quality through the day from 100% Axminster to threadbare hospital waiting room.

The UK’s opening batsmen, Darren Evans (20) and Henrique Dolabella (34) got the UK innings off to a solid start in the face of some unsportsman-like fast bowling from Andrew “I’m not here to make friends” Gillespie and Kamal “I’ll bowl bouncers at children” Bishnoi. Henrique showed that he picked up more than just a posh accent in the UK, and flashed some sharp cover drives to the fence. Darren was the first to fall to a sharp caught and bowled from Lance Donald, and Henrique followed soon after, missing (the only) straight one from Dean Byrne.

Matt Field (12) and Paul Davey (33) looked to push the scoring rate along and both sent the ball into the stands with, for the Australians, concerning ease. There was some relief when Matt missed one from Alexandre Miziara, only to have this relief dashed at the sight of Rubab Islam (32*) pumping the Aussie bowlers to all corners of the ground. Just when things were looking to get out of hand, an exceptionally tight spell of bowling from Fabio Dela Pace put the screws on and an inspired 1-stump-showing run out from Kamal sent Paul back to the sheds.

Vinod Kumar and Anthony Gilmour came and went without giving too much trouble to the scorers, removed by some sharp fielding by Anthony and catching from Fabio. The Australian team had made a habit of dropping every catch that came their way till this point “to give the Poms a fair go”; to see one stick was a welcome surprise for them. A real bright spot for the Australians in the field was the work of Arvind Kidambi behind the stumps, throwing himself at the wayward bowling of his teammates with reckless disregard for the health of his knees and elbows.

With a handful of overs to go, Ambassador Ellis came to the crease. Despite protesting prior to the game that he didn’t know what he was doing, he clearly did and flashed a breezy 26 not out. He and Rubab took the UK team through to a very respectable 182/6 off 30 overs, sending many a ball to sleep with the Capivaras.

A light lunch, a hydrating Skol, and the UK’s opening pair of Oliver Ballhatchet and Rubab Islam were charging in to the Australian (Brazilian and Indian) openers. Despite looking sharp at the crease and with form on his side, Alexandre Miziara was sent packing early on by Rubab. Some said they saw Alexandre shaking hands with Chris Cairns behind the changing room after the game; what really happened out in the middle only Alexandre and his new Porsche will know.

Rubab and Oliver terrorized the Australian batsmen with a display of blistering quick bowling, but Vikram Singh and Arvind were stoic in their resolve and formed a strong partnership. Vikram put on a solid 35 before being trapped leg before by Amb. Ellis.

Arvind built on his performance behind the stumps to hit a man of the match-winning 50 retired off 43 balls and put the Australians in a comfortable position, needing around 60 runs with 10 overs to go.

Kamal gave the British ambassador his second wicket and brought the Australian (New Zealand and Sri Lankan) pairing of Andrew (26*) and Danushka (14*) to the crease. By this stage of the day the heat was taking its toll and running became a chore, so Danushka elected to hit only boundaries and refused to run singles. Either that or Danushka wanted the strike; hard to say. These two finished off the innings in obnoxious style, and Andrew finished the game with a huge six, the tale of which he will be boring his girlfriend with for months to come. In the end Australia won with 187/3 in the 25th over, and without even resorting to bowling underarm.

Many thanks to Andrew Ford who umpired all day in the blazing sun and did not succumb to the peer pressure of the UK or the bribery from the Australians. Thanks also to Lucyanna Miranda for scoring the match.

Thanks also to our sponsors Cotação/Banco Rendimento for their support of cricket in Brasilia.

Thanks to our fearless leader of cricket in Brasilia, Vincent Bastick, for all the hard work that goes into making cricket happen here. Next year though, if you don’t want to play, just say so – don’t go making excuses about Dengue just to get out of the game.

For those who turned out to support, a big thank to you all.
Until next year!