Swarmi Army v The Richies: A cricket match for a good cause in the shadow of the SCG
Co-founder of The Richies Michael Hennessy with Swarmi Army director Rakesh Jampala. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)
The stakes in this match could not be higher.
For one, the winning team gets the opportunity to walk into the Sydney Cricket Ground for day one of the fourth Test.
But they get to walk on the ground with a priceless prize: bragging rights.
The pitch is a playing field at Moore Park, a ground in the shadow of the SCG.
The home side has arrived dressed in bone-coloured suits, wearing silver wigs and they often say the word “marvellous”.
They are better known as “The Richies” — a group of cricket super-fans who attend games dressed as the late player and commentator Richie Benaud.
Batting first, the Richies are aiming to do what the Australian team has struggled with this summer.
“We’re trying to win,” Richies co-founder Michael Hennessy said.
The Richies go around the country as a group, attending day two of each Test match in honour of Benaud.
On the other side is The Swarmi Army.
In a homage in name to England’s Barmy Army, its group is made of loyal Indian fans mostly from Sydney and Melbourne.
The group started in 1999, as a way of cricket fans getting together to watching India play Test matches against Australia.
The group has been following the Indian team around Australia for all its games.
“As you’re well aware, and all Australians are well aware, [the Indian team] has never won a Test series here, so we are suitably excited and poised,” director Rakesh Jampala said.
Mr Jampala said both groups were just a bunch of cricket lovers.
The two teams in action — The Richies facing the Swarmi Army attack. (ABC News: Jonathan Hair)
“Over a number of years we’ve exchanged great banter at the game, and had great interactions,” he said.
“They’re cricket lovers, we’re cricket lovers.
“And we found out they’d been playing the Barmy Army over a number of years, and we said: we’d be much better players than them.
“So bring it on and here we are.”
The Richies and the Swarmi Army have also faced off in Adelaide and Perth.
But they are not just facing off to fuel the rivalry.
The teams have been raising money through donations and merchandise sales for the McGrath Foundation.
“We wanted to get together for a fun, friendly game, and have a bit of fun playing cricket, but also raise some money for a good cause,” Mr Hennessy said.
In the end, The Swarmi Army won the match easily.
Many around Australia will be hoping the Sydney Test does not go the same way.