Cricketers grace Australia Day celebrations - The New Indian Express

Cricketers grace Australia Day celebrations

Published: 16th February 2013 09:28 AM

Last Updated: 16th February 2013 09:28 AM

Apart from being member nations of the Commonwealth and having a humongous, insatiable appetite for cricket, India and Australia share a day which commemorates developments that have shaped their destinies, January 26.

While the same may be heralded in our nation as Republic Day, the day in which our Constitution came into force, to Australians it is Australia Day, a day that commemorates the arrival of the British First Fleet in the island nation, in 1788. Perhaps it was fitting that all these factors united at the Australia Day celebrations held at a city hotel on Thursday, whichwas attended by the national cricket team from the Island nation.

Acknowledging the synergy, Consul-General for South India of the Australian Consulate General, David Holly, who spoke on the occasion, said that the event was about celebrating what India and Australia shared in common, including the recent rapid growth in the strategic partnership.

 “It is our shared desires for economic prosperity and regional security that is driving the rapid growth.” He added that over the last five years, bilateral trade had doubled to nearly 20 billion dollars. Cricket apart, an exhibition of photographs of Indians succeeding in the island nation was displayed on the occasion, Indian Aussies by Michael Lawrence, was displayed on the occasion.

The photographs were a reiteration of the ever-expanding Indian diaspora in Australia, which David added had increased to almost half a billion.

South India has a major trading presence in Australia, as nearly half of the 11 billion dollar Indian investment has come from here.

The address was followed by a thanksgiving address by the Australian cricket team captain, Michael Clarke. The Australian players present then, in a sign of reciprocity to their host, all signed on a jersey and presented it to Holly, their host for the day.

Speaking to Express, David Holly explained that the celebrations were being organised as they were unable to do so on January 26. “Also Republic Day is a big thing here. We are fortunate that the cricket team was visiting here, coinciding with the celebrations.”

As for the cricketers — who are on a four test match tour — India should not be an entirely new land for them, what with their IPL affiliations and other associations with cricket. Australian batsman Usman Khawaja, who is on his second tour of India, says that the excitement surrounding cricket here is certainly of astronomic proportions.

Quiz him on the existence of a similar prevailing sentiment back home, and he says, “There are many other sports we are engrossed in, for instance, rugby, swimming, motorsport and tennis.” Australia play India at the M A Chidambaram Stadium in their first test match of tour, beginning on March 22.

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