Cricket – VCA
The game of Cricket permeates the globe. From New Zealand to Norway, Sierra Leone to the Seychelles, the game is played officially in over 120 countries around the world on almost every continent. Here in Vietnam, however, Cricket has never gained a foothold on the local sporting landscape. There are historic images of the troops at the 2Comp Ord/2AOD Depot in Vung Tau (now the Lord Mayors Oval) playing on a cement pitch laid by the local Vietnamese women during the American War and, of course, the Hanoi Cricket Club was formed in the northern capital in 1993. But despite the enthusiasm of these pioneers, participation and playing conditions have mostly been confined to the ranks of Cricket-starved expatriates with a taped up ball on a rolled out, sea grass mat.
That was all to change in late 2005, thanks primarily to a pair of passionate individuals determined to bring the Spirit of Cricket to the parklands of Vietnam – Mr. Michael Mann and the late Dr. Laurie Hayward. Together, they procured an astroturf pitch, the first of its kind in the nation, on the grounds of the newly established RMIT University Saigon South Campus.
Sadly, Dr. Laurie was only to enjoy this tremendous legacy for a short time before his passing. And it was around that time the League Trophy, first commissioned by the Mann family, was dedicated as the Dr. Laurie Hayward Memorial Trophy which, to this day, is awarded to the League Champions.A friendly scratch match to christen the pitch prompted the emergence of a healthy contingent of excited expats from the Australian, English, Indian and Sri Lankan communities all keen to get out there and play. In early 2006, Vietnam’s first Cricket League was contested between Australia, Sri Lanka, India A, India B and RMIT. An enthralling first Grand Final between the newly-formed Saigon Australian Cricket Club (SACC) and Sri Lankan Sports Club (SSC) saw the SACC held to 102 runs and SSC cruising in the chase at 1 for 51. Enter Richard ‘Chef’ Turner with a devastating spell of 6 for 25, leading his team to victory and the first Cricket Championship in Vietnam history!
The English joined the fray during that off-season with a 3-match series against the SACC, in what was hastily dubbed ‘The Saigon Ashes’. The tradition continues between the old foes and the teams now contest the Jon Fleming Trophy each time they meet. The English Cricket Club of Saigon (ECCS) officially joined the League for the start of the 2006-07 season and the Saigon Cricket Association (SCA) was born in earnest.
The continued success of the Association is the direct result of invaluable contributions by a group of passionate, committed people during that formative era. Names like Carrington, Gupta, Sogani, Treasure, Fawcitt, Deshpande, Perara, Pillay, Cashion, Malcolm, Kutcher, Preston, Pisipaty, Murugesu, Uduwatte and Deepu all come to mind but there are many, many more