This week teams representing Sydney Thunder, Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars contested the Multicultural T20 Tri-Series in Wollongong.
The tournament celebrates cultural diversity and provides an opportunity for individuals to represent their community.
Players from six different communities were selected to represent the Thunder Nation Cup All Stars, with Afghanistan-born Hameed Kherkhah named captain for the second consecutive year.
“It’s a proud moment. I always look forward to being in something like this that people can say Afghans are coming out here and playing cricket and they’re doing good things, not what the media say or what happens in Afghanistan,” he said.
“The guys have really good talent but they’re scared to come out and play because they think they won’t make it because of their race or their religion or their culture. This is what Sydney Thunder does, it’s all about having people from different cultures and different backgrounds coming together and giving them an opportunity to showcase their talent.”
Nazir Shinwari was a standout performer for the Thunder Nation Cup All Stars, collecting 3/19 and 3/16.
Though disappointed not to make the final, the Blacktown cricketer is already looking forward to the next tournament.
“It was a bit tough losing two games in a row but the competition’s pretty tough. The Melbourne Stars have good players, Renegades as well so hopefully next year we’ll come stronger and get the wins,” he said.
The Renegades successfully defended their title, defeating the Stars by eight runs in the final on Tuesday.
Captain Ejaaz Elavi was proud of the way his side came together and grateful for the opportunity to don his favourite KFC Big Bash League team’s colours.
“It’s been an absolute privilege to captain all the guys. I think we gelled really well as a group and I think that shows in our performance to win three out of three and be undefeated in the tournament,” he said.
“It’s a massive honour. We all aspire to play for the Renegades so just to wear the red colours out there, it’s really fantastic and we’re all definitely not taking this for granted.”
The Thunder Nation Cup All Stars won the inaugural tournament in Wagga Wagga in 2017 before the Renegades took the title last year in Melbourne.
This week's Wollongong event was the third iteration of the tournament and the first time the Melbourne Stars were involved.
Stars captain James Nanopoulos said it was a great opportunity to learn from cricketers of different backgrounds.
“You don’t get this opportunity very often so to be able to represent the Melbourne Stars and showcase our skills, it’s been a really good experience,” he said.
“For cricketers of all nations in this competition it’s been great to co-mingle and build a really good camaraderie and get to know other cultures.”
The Thunder Nation Cup celebrates cultural diversity and provides an opportunity for individuals to represent their community.
Last year the tournament was contested by teams representing Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Fiji, Nepal and African Nations, with close to 1,000 participants trialing to represent their community.
From the competition, a squad was selected to represent the Thunder Nation Cup All Stars at the Multicultural T20 Tri-Series.
For more information on the Thunder Nation Cup, please contact Sydney Thunder.