I begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we are gathered and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.
As I was getting ready for this dinner, I started thinking back to 2009.
In some ways, it was a bad year for Australian cricket.
After all, we lost the Ashes.
But I know I speak for everyone here when I say that 2009 was a great year for Australian cricket, because 2009 is when BlowFly Cricket was founded.
Cricket is often said to be Australia’s national game.
But it took Mark Rushton to realise that Cricket could only claim the mantle of our national game if it could be played by everyone.
BlowFly cricket was born from that realisation.
Australia’s greatest cricketer, Sir Don Bradman once said that “The finest of athletes have, along with skill, a few more essential qualities: to conduct their life with dignity, with integrity, with courage and modesty. All these, are totally compatible with pride, ambition, determination and competitiveness.”
Every single one of the Don’s words apply to Mark Rushton.
Thank you, Mark, for everything you have done over 10 years to build BlowFly Cricket into the amazing club it is today.
There have been so many milestones over the past 10 years.
Who can forget the Blowflies walking out onto the hallowed ground of the SCG in January 2014?
Who can forget Steve Smith turning up at James Park in November 2016 and having a hit?
And how proud were we of the first free clinics at Camp Breakaway and the SONY Foundation Camps, and establishing the school program at Mary Brooksbank School?
All of those were great days, but they aren’t the ones that really live in memory.
You know, Blowflies are the most persistent animals around.
They never, ever, ever give up.
So for me, the greatest days at this club are the days when that persistence finally pays off.
When someone struggling to have a hit finally connects bat to ball.
The thrill of taking a catch.
The smile when a player first sees the blue and green playing shirts emblazoned with their name and favourite number.
They have been the highpoints of the past 10 years.
Cricket is played by teams and teams are built by communities.
Virat Kohli, captain of India, once said “No cricket team in the world depends on one or two players. The team always plays to win.”
Volunteers are an essential part of the winning team at Blowfly Cricket.
They’ve mustered the troops on the field, cooked the barbecues and baked the cakes, worn the Santa suits and manned the Bunning’s Barbecue to raise much-needed funds.
Every win this club has had over the past 10 years it owes to the dedicated parents and volunteers, and I honour and I thank them all.
I thank the Coaches Association, the HKHDCCA, for the free coaching their members have provided to improve the BlowFly’s batting, bowling and catching skills.
I thank all the sponsors, ambassadors and supporters for their unswerving backing of the club.
Thank you also to the local businesses who support the club, and to the Hornsby Council for its support to make James Park a home ground suitable for all aspects of our great game.
I’d also like to acknowledge all the players who have gone through Cricket Australia Accredited Community (Level 1) Coaching Certificates and participate in the innovative “Uncoachables Coaching the Uncoachables” program.
You are part of the history of the club, but you are also its future.
Finally, I want to thank the players.
No cricket club worthy of the name can exist without passionate players, and Blowflies are the most passionate cricketers of all!
I wish the Blowflies every success, on the cricket field and off, and hope you all enjoy this 10th birthday celebration.