It’s just not cricket – England and Australian stars battle it out for the ‘Alternative Ashes’ at London Golf Club near Sevenoaks
THE SPORTS of cricket and golf collided in the name of fun at London Golf Club when some of the world’s top senior golfers and two brilliant international cricketers contested the ‘Alternative Ashes’ ahead of the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship.
As an entertaining diversion before the serious Ashes showdown between England and Australia at Edgbaston, the golf course in Ash near Sevenoaks was the ‘battleground’ for a challenge match which pitted golfers Peter Fowler and Peter O’Malley and Australian World Cup cricket captain, Aaron Finch against an England side made up of former England batsman Mark Ramprakash and golfers Phil Golding and Colin Montgomerie.
Scotsman Montgomerie, who learned to play cricket while at school in Yorkshire and an ‘honorary Englishman’ for the occasion, displayed an unexpected but impressive range of skills with a cricket bat to lead the English team to victory over the Aussies.
After receiving a replica Ashes urn from Ryan Howsam, chairman of tournament sponsors, Staysure, Montgomerie admitted: “That was great fun. I enjoyed my cricket when I was living in Ilkley as a youngster and this was a relaxing and enjoyable way to start what is a very big week for the Staysure Tour and the players competing for an important title over four days at London Golf Club.”
Montgomerie, who shot a course record 63 over the International Course last year at the London Golf Club – a score matched in the final round by eventual champion Golding – secured the ‘alternative Ashes’ for England by ‘batting’ a 22-yard putt to within three feet of the pin.
Under the watchful gaze of Martin Saggers, a former Kent cricketer turned umpire, Ramprakash’s range of stroke-making earned England victory in the first of three unusual challenges – a nearest the pin contest from 80 yards using a cricket bat to make contact with a moving golf ball.
However, Australia struck back in the next challenge, which saw the two teams attempt to dislodge the bails from the stumps by showing their golf skills from the length of a cricket pitch distance away. This time, Finch, who led Australia to the semi-final of the World Cup recently, came to his country’s rescue with an accurate chip which hit middle stump.
In the end it came down to a Scotsman to win the Ashes with the deft ‘cricket putt’ as a precursor to the 72-hole Staysure PGA Seniors Championship, which offers a £400,000 prize fund between Thursday and Sunday.
No doubt all six golfing cricketers will be glad to get back to their ‘day jobs’!