It was at the Rotary International Assembly at Nashville in 1986 that the idea of an exchange of parties of cricket-playing Rotarians between districts in the United Kingdom and India was discussed and developed by past R.I. President Rajendra Saboo and past R.I. Director Geoffrey Pike. There then followed several years of exchanges between India, South Africa and the West Indies and it became clear that a new Rotary Vocational Fellowship would succeed.
On 25th May 1993 the formal launching of the International Fellowship of Cricket-Loving Rotarians - I.F.C.R. - took place in the Long Room of the Melbourne Cricket Club courtesy of the Australian Cricket Board.
Tours have since taken place between Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, United Kingdom and the West Indies. The incoming tourists have not only been able to enjoy the delights of a new country seen through the eyes of their Rotarian hosts but they have also acted as “missionaries” and have shown that even though one’s body may have declined, the enjoyment of the game has not diminished. There are many examples of people who thought their playing days had long gone, but have realised that Rotary cricket is played at a more sedate pace.
The first World Rotary Cricket Festival was held in Fordingbridge, England in 1997. This was followed by Chennai, (Madras) India in 1999, Christchurch, New Zealand in 2002, and the Hunter Valley, Australia in November 2004.
Each Festival sees the number of participating teams increase, from 6 in Fordingbridge to 12 in Christchurch and 20 in the Hunter Valley. The World Festivals are sufficiently significant in the RI calendar as to have attracted RI President Elect Carl-Wilhelm Stenhammer to spend a couple of days at the Hunter Valley Festival.
I.F.C.R. G.B. & I. has participated in each Festival and has undertaken tours to Cape Province, South Africa; South Eastern Australia; North and South Island, New Zealand; Chennai, India; and has played in Los Angeles and Perth while travelling to and from Australasia.
We have also been fortunate enough to arrange tours for and ‘home host’ I.F.C.R. members from both Australia and New Zealand. What a wonderful way to make and retain friendships. Cricket is a great game. Rotary is a special organisation, combine the two and you have something really special.
Sadly Geoffrey Pike passed away on 26th December 2005, well satisfied that his concept had developed far beyond his imagination.