By Nick Creely
For every ball sent down on Australia Day, Sean Mulqueen was paying tribute to an Australian soldier tragically killed in Afghanistan.
Sean, a veteran himself of six years in the Australian Army as part of the Royal Australian Engineers, has seen many of his mates sadly killed in combat.
But now Sean, back living in Australia with his wife and family, is ensuring that the lives lost will not be forgotten, establishing a special event on Australia Day, which he is hoping will become a marquee fixture for locals in the south-east area for years to come.
The 42 Ball Bash, a cricket tournament which is similar to Twenty20 cricket but only has 42 balls per side, recognises and pays tribute to the lives lost in Afghanistan, which currently sits at 42, and the veterans who come home and live with the experiences of war.
“The 42 Ball Bash was put together to raise money for the ’42 for 42′ and ‘Diggers Rest – A Soldiers retreat’, with both organisations honouring the soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Afghanistan war, as well as all their families and other returned veterans,” Sean said.
“The proceeds from the day will be going to the projects and the programs in helping returned veterans and veteran families.
“We used the cricket tournament to be the first fundraiser for the year; it was an idea that came together with Silvio Marinelli, Joe Hackett and Brad Mcdonald.”
The event, which was held at Casey Fields in Cranbourne, was a raging success, with eight clubs taking part – Merinda Park, Cardinia, Clyde, Cranbourne, Carlisle Park Vikings, who put in two teams, as well as a 42 for 42 side and a Diggers Rest team.
Merinda Park met Cardinia in the final, with the game coming down to the final three balls.
All teams pay a small fee and get to play competitive cricket on turf wickets, with other festivities, such as raffles, a catching tournament with the bowling machine, barbecues and a jumping castle ran by the Cranbourne Cricket Club.
“We were very fortunate and lucky to have Andy Ligt and the Cranbourne Cricket Club support myself and the boys again,” Sean explained.
“They have been involved with some other events in helping with returned veterans.
“The idea is to get veterans and families to know they can have a bad and sad day and can remember the tough times, however life goes on and it takes one step at a time as well as a little bit of weight of our shoulders.
“When we started planning the 42 Ball Bash we wanted to keep the same mindset and get everyone to start having fun.
“We can always remember, but it doesn’t need to be sad and sombre moments, we can make it fun and enjoyable.
“That’s why the idea of a cricket tournament on Australia Day was thought of.
“It was fun, enjoyable and the cricket was the best way to get everyone involved. “
The 42 Ball Bash will be on again next Australia Day, with the hope more people and more teams will get behind the cause.