Although the Cricket World Cup won't be at stake in the New Zealand Defence Force Tournament at Blenheim's Horton Park this week, one-day cricket's glittering prize will be there.
The tournament coincides with ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 "One Year to Go" celebrations, which are taking place around the seven host cities later this week and provides a chance to kick off the countdown in Marlborough. Along with the trophy, New Zealand cricketing royalty, Sir Richard Hadlee, and Therese Walsh, head of New Zealand's CWC 2015 campaign, will be in attendance on the opening morning of the event, which runs from tomorrow to Thursday.
The first matches of the quadrangular tournament, involving sides representing the NZ Air Force, NZ Army and NZ Navy plus a team from the Royal Australian Air Force, begin at 9am tomorrow and Hadlee is expected to make a brief presentation to the captains and join them for the coin toss.
Aside from a chance to see the trophy that the world's top one-day sides will be playing for in New Zealand and Australia next year, someone at the ground will have a chance to snap up a limited edition cricket ball signed by Hadlee, this country's record wicket-taker.
CWC host city manager Danielle Coe said those at the park from 9am-11am would be able to have their photos taken with either the trophy and/or Sir Richard. "It's an informal day for us - but a chance to celebrate cricket," she added.
The NZ Defence Force cricket tournament, which was last staged in Marlborough in 2009, is contested annually with the addition of the Australian Air Force side this year allowing a quadrangular format to be employed. The Aussies last toured New Zealand in 2006, playing in the North Island. This time around they have a busy South Island schedule. On Friday they met Otago Country in Alexandra, then played Canterbury Metro yesterday before driving north.
Tomorrow's action begins with the two air force sides meeting for the Hayden Madsen Memorial Trophy, presented in honour of the former Air Force and Wairau all-rounder who died in a helicopter accident on Anzac Day 2010. On the other ground the NZ Army and Navy sides will do battle.
Some familiar faces to Marlborough cricketers will be there. Turning out for the NZ Air Force team is accomplished wicketkeeper batsman Mason Robinson, who has played representative cricket for both Marlborough and Nelson. Former Wairau Valley and Marlborough seamer Darren Grant, now based in Auckland, is the NZ Air Force coach and Blenheim's Warwick Tempero will umpire during the tournament.
On Wednesday the NZ Air Force will play the Navy with the Aussies taking on the NZ Army. The following day NZ Air Force tackle the Army and the Navy will do battle with the Australians.
All games are one-day matches, 50-overs per side.
- The Marlborough Express