It’s the kind of scorecard New Zealand cricket fans dreamed of growing up, and now for National’s Chris Bishop and Labour’s Kieran McAnulty it could be reality as they lead the New Zealand Parliament Cricket XI at the upcoming Inter-Parliamentary Cricket World Cup.
Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar, who served as an MP from 2012 – 2018, is rumoured to be a part of an Indian team which will compete alongside Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, England, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa in the 8-team competition.
Co-captain Chris Bishop says the tournament will help strengthen New Zealand ties with the United Kingdom and the participating cricketing nations by building diplomacy through sport.
“New Zealand has a long history of making strong diplomatic and international relations through the use of sport,” says Mr Bishop, “and cricket is perfect for it with long stretches of not much happening when we can just talk to the other MPs we’re playing against.”
“We’re here with the support of the Parliamentary Sports Trust who help us fundraise which means we can make it to events like this. The chance to meet with MPs from the UK and all around the world and mix competition with conversation is a really great way of fostering mateship around the world.”
“Along with events like the Inter-Parliamentary World Cup, we also have regular annual fixtures against a Diplomatic XI stretching back to 1974. Sadly this year’s game was postponed due to the March 15 terror attacks in Christchurch, but with the support of the diplomats we hope to hold the match later this year in support of the Christchurch attack victims.”
The Parliament Cricket XI will be hosted by Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow MP, for the official tournament opening. The team will also attend engagements with the UK Foreign Office, and will be hosted by 10 Downing Street during the Cricket World Cup Final on July 14. MPs will be undertaking a number of separate one-on-one meetings with their international counterparts, along with the more informal meetings of bat-on-ball.
Tournament organisers have partnered with Chance to Shine, the official charity of the England and Wales Cricket Board, and MPs will be involved in several charitable events. Co-captain Kieran McAnulty says the trip is a chance to emphasise how parliamentarians from both sides of the political aisle can put political differences aside and work together to support communities and promote the interests of New Zealand.
“Our team has MPs from Labour, National and New Zealand First, so it’s an opportunity to demonstrate how we can come together on the international stage to promote New Zealand’s interests and cricket ability, and discuss global issues with international MPs,” says Mr McAnulty.
“Members of Parliament regularly travel together and work collaboratively in a way that the public rarely sees. The Parliament Cricket XI is just another example of the cross-party work that often takes place in Parliament but that we don’t hear enough about.
“This trip is about putting our political differences aside, bowling wicket to wicket, and clearing mid-off. Maybe bringing home some silverware as an added bonus.”
The Inter-Parliamentary Cricket World Cup takes place in London, England from 9 – 12 July, with games hosted by Teddington Cricket Club, Chiswick House Cricket Club, Blackheath Cricket Club and Beckenham Cricket Club.