Richos XI dig in for diggers
IT was a tour that brought his opposing captain to tears and opened the door to a whole new era for his cricketing team-mates.
Richo’s XI cricket started as an opportunity to play a few games of cricket, pay tribute to the sacrifices of Australian diggers and raise money for a worthy charity, and has blossomed into a full-scale operation involving multiple countries and charities for founder Ray Richardson.
Almost 12 months since the side toured Thailand, raising $20,000 for the continued refurbishment and replotting of the Thai-Burma Railway at Kanchanaburi, their legacy continues with yet another token of generosity.
This year the squad, which boasts an unblemished international record of one win from one match, are donating a further $10,000 to assist the family of the railway’s museum curator Rod Beattie.
“We’re sending Rod’s daughter to study at St Ursula’s College for two years,” Ray said. “Rod is originally a local CQ bloke – he’s spent the better part of 20 years working on the railway.
“It’s the least we could do.”
So heartfelt was the Aussie side’s cricketing pilgrimage in Thailand, Ray said the Thai team captain actually “broke down in tears” during presentations after the game.
Already the wheels are in motion for the Richo’s XI second tour of south-east Asia and Vietnam is their next mission.
Last year’s Thai tour coincided with the 65th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
Next year’s date will hold equal significance with August 15, 2012 the 40th anniversary since Australian troops returned home from the Vietnam War.
In tribute, the Aussie amateurs will play three games against the Invitational Asian XI outfit in Vietnam and this time they mean business.
“It will be the same side, they want revenge,” Ray joked.
“They’re not a bunch of nobody’s, the side is full of top-rate cricketers.
“One was the leading run scorer for English club side Essex in 2009, they’ve got another three Indians who play second-grade premier league... I think they took us a bit lightly last time.”
The Vietnam tour will finish with a game incorporating a combined Asia – Richo’s XI side, which will play a chosen side from the Sixth Royal Australian Regiment (6 RAR), which is the infantry battalion involved in arguably Australia’s most infamous battle during the Vietnam War - the battle of Long Tan.
The tournament will also raise money for various south-east Asian charities associated with the post-war healing.
Looking further afield, the Richo’s XI are also planning another cricket tour to Gallipoli to mark the 100th anniversary of the Anzacs landing at the battle site.
“We already planning for it,” Ray said.
“On these tours, all players pay their own way and all the money raised goes to our charities.”
A keen military history follower, Ray said the Richo’s tours were a way to give back to the country which has given so much.
“It’s the sacrifice of the soldiers who have gone before us and given their lives for what we have today, this is our appreciation for them.”
A book titled Richo’s XI Thai Cricket for Thailand 2010 has also just been released detailing the odyssey, with all proceeds going to charity.