The international cricket season kicked off last Sunday with the annual charity match between the Prime Minister’s XI and the Australian XI at Manuka Oval.
This year’s match was used to raise funds for Julie Bishop’s application for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Bishop has already been given a seat on the council but insists it needs more cushioning.
Despite hopes of a big turnout, the crowd size was disappointing, mainly due to a heavy police cordon around the ground to prevent protests over Manus Island. Organisers remained hopeful of raising enough money, however, as all the corporate boxes were full of CEOs and LNP ministers, many of whom promised to take a collection when they got back to the office.
After being informed that they had lost the toss, held earlier in the PMs XI change rooms, the Australian XI were sent in to bat. The innings got off too shaky start with openers Honesty and Integrity being dismissed by captain Malcolm Turnbull early in the innings. This brought Human Rights to the crease.
Despite a sound defensive technique, Rights has struggled for form on Australian pitches in recent years, with a series of disastrous run outs since 2013 severely curtailing his form.
Most of those run outs were caused by the batsman the other end, former human rights commissioner Tim Wilson, refusing to back him up. With Wilson successfully transferring to the PMs XI squad last year, hopes were high of a return to form for Rights in Australia.
The PMs XI, however, had other ideas. Turnbull brought on his most aggressive bowlers, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton, who released a barrage of successive bouncers which umpires Bolt and Devine refused to no-ball.
To annoy and distract the batsman, Turnbull brought Christopher Pyne in at silly mid off and Kevin Andrews into short backward square. Eventually the pressure took toll, with Rights succumbing to yet another run out.
The Australian XI appealed the decision, arguing that Rights had been unable to make his ground as former police officer Dutton had him in a chokehold at the time. The decision was reviewed by the third umpire, Bronwyn Bishop, who not only upheld the decision but dismissed the next two batsmen for wasting her time, giving the PMs XI a hat trick.
With five wickets down, the Australian XI needed a saviour. That saviour arrived in the form of keeper Gillian Triggs, whose sound footwork, solid defensive technique and dignified poise helped the Australian XI begin to accumulate runs.
Turnbull responded by bringing his entire field in, as well as all the Murdoch journalists in the press box, and commencing a barrage of sledging not seen on since Julia Gillard retired. After making several unsuccessful bowling changes, Turnbull tried a new tactic, bowling all of them at once.
Triggs endured a series of vicious body blows, including some from the ball, and was eventually forced to retire hurt. In the next over Economic Competence was given out handled ball and/or hit wicket, sparking a collapse.
Ministerial Accountability, Status O’Women and Indigenous Affairs were dismissed immediately when they arrived at the middle only to discover the PMs XI and Press had gone to lunch early.
This left the batsman at the other end, Marriage Equality, stranded without a partner and unable to return to the change rooms without significant concessions being granted to substitute fielder James Paterson.
Extras were not applicable as the match was played on a Sunday. This gave the Australian XI a total of 9.6 billion in deficit, a figure Scott Morrison described as ‘robust’.
Since taking over the captaincy in 2015, Malcolm Turnbull has experienced a dramatic slump in form, including twenty consecutive soft dismissals to the wily leg-spinner News Poll. With Poll not available this week, Turnbull decided to promote himself to the top of the order.
The innings began well for Turnbull, who appeared to be settling in for a prolonged stay at the crease. Throughout his innings, Turnbull played a wide range of flamboyant, unconventional and at times highly dubious shots which initially dazzled the spectators but consistently failed to score any runs.
Disaster struck in the middle of the innings when Turnbull attempted his first run, only to be run out at the other end by former PMs XI captain Tony Abbott.
Abbott then immediately set about making amends for his honest mistake by scoring heavily, mainly for the opposing team. Abbott survived several loud appeals, most of them made by Turnbull running back onto the ground. Despite numerous shouts for LBW, caught behind, and clean bowled, umpires Bolt and Devine refused to give Abbott out.
Things weren’t faring much better at the other end, with most of the PMs XI either too inebriated after the lunch break to bat, absent, or disqualified as dual nationals.
The Australian XI began to sense victory, but hopes were dashed however when Turnbull appealed against the light. Umpires Bolt and Devine agreed, despite the forecast for the rest of the day being clear skies with no chance of rain.
Using the Joyce-Rinehart run-rate method, which awards additional runs to the PMs XI for services to mining, the PMs XI were declared clear winners by a yet to be determined margin.
For the fifth year running, the player of the match award was given to Rupert Murdoch. As per tradition, Malcolm Turnbull accepted the award on his behalf.