Two CFA volunteers have lived out the dreams of millions of cricket fans, after taking to the field alongside some of the sport’s greatest names at a fundraiser game on St Kilda’s Junction Oval.
Bruce Jewell from Drouin West Brigade, and Krissy Dundas from Montrose Brigade played major roles in Cricket Australia’s Big Appeal Bushfire Charity Match, with Ms Dundas selected as 12th player and fielder for one of the all-star squads, while Mr Jewell joined Australian legends and team captains Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist in the middle of the ground to toss the bat (the cricket equivalent of a coin toss).
The incredible opportunity to take part in the game that raised more than 7.7 million dollars for the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, came after the match was relocated to Melbourne at the last minute due to rain in Sydney.
The CFA representatives were part of an emergency service contingent, with members of the MFB, SES, FFM Vic, and Red Cross also involved in the activities, that started with a T20 game between the Australian and Indian Women’s teams.
But it was the arrival of international superstars including Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara that created a buzz around the ground, with the emergency service personnel joining the legends in the nets for pre-game practice.
“I just felt like a ten year old kid,” said Mr Jewell, who’s been deployed to East Gippsland eight times this summer as both a Strike Team Leader and Community Liaison Officer, as well as joining Strike Teams in New South Wales.
“I love my cricket, but I’m a massive Melbourne Storm fan as well, so chatting with Cam Smith was just awesome.”
Mr Jewell’s big moment came in the middle of the ground, as he shook hands with Ponting and Gilchrist before throwing the bat in the air with the former Australian wicketkeeper winning the toss and selecting to field.
The appreciation for the efforts of all involved throughout this summer was felt as the teams of international legends lined up to welcome the emergency service members onto the ground to thunderous applause from the sold out crowd.
Australian music icon John Williamson was also flanked by emergency personnel and players, as he dedicated his song True Blue to the firefighters.
Throughout the game, CFA’s Krissy Dundas and Dimity Lynch from SES joined the teams as twelfth players, and sitting alongside the likes of former women’s captain Alex Blackwell, current Test captain Tim Paine, and West Indian legend Courtney Walsh.
But it was during the innings break that the real highlight came for both players, who walked onto Junction Oval as part of the Australian Women’s Cricket team and took to the field as Sachin Tendulkar faced an over from Australian superstar Elyse Perry.
“I was so nervous sitting there with the players,” said Ms Dundas, who was involved with Strike Teams in Sarsfield and Buchan, as well as two deployments to New South Wales.
“And then when Sachin hit the ball towards me a few times, it was just unbelievable. I’ll never forget it.”
Ponting XI: Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting (c), Elyse Villani, Brian Lara, Phoebe Litchfield, Brad Haddin (wk), Brett Lee, Wasim Akram, Dan Christian, Luke Hodge, Dimity Lynch (SES, 12th) Coach: Sachin Tendulkar
Gilchrist XI: Adam Gilchrist (c & wk), Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, Yuvraj Singh, Alex Blackwell, Andrew Symonds, Courtney Walsh, Nick Riewoldt, Peter Siddle, Fawad Ahmed, Cameron Smith, Krissy Dundas (CFA, 12th) Coach: Tim Paine