It might have been coronavirus everywhere else but last week in Cootamundra it was all about cricket.
The town that revels in its cricketing greats – William Lloyd “Billy” Murdoch and Sir Donald “The Don” Bradman – has, over time, immortalised 42 Australian International Test XI captains along a sculpture-lined walk in Jubilee Park.
Known as the Captains Walk, every test captain beginning with Unaarrimim (Johnny Mullah), who led the Aboriginal cricket team on their 1868 tour of England, is featured along a 250 metre path that weaves through the stately park.
And last week, bronze busts of Shane Watson, Steve Smith and Tim Payne joined the hallowed retinue.
They were unveiled by Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke who said the busts continue to be an important tourist attraction for Cootamundra and a vivid record of the nation’s cricket leaders.
“Cootamundra has a proud cricketing tradition as the birthplace of Don Bradman, and one time home of Bill Murdoch, celebrating of that history is part of what makes Coota unique,” Ms Cooke said.
“I am very proud to be unveiling these new additions, celebrating living legends which will no doubt continue to draw visitors to the region.”
Former Cootamundra Shire Mayor Paul Braybrooks was the driving force behind the Captain’s Walk and said he was pleased the new busts had been added.
“The idea for the walk came from seeing the busts of the prime ministers in Ballarat, we thought it would be lovely idea with the cricketing connection in Cootamundra,” Mr Braybrooks said.
“It is a great companion to the Bradman Birthplace museum as a tourist attraction for cricket lovers and Australians in general,” Mr Braybrooks said.
This salute to the past then became a nod to the future as the NSW Baggy Blues teamed up with Cootamundra District Cricket Association for a coaching clinic and T20 game with the Murdoch XI facing off against the Bradman XI.
Secretary Treasurer of the Cootamundra District Cricket Association Pat Kerin said the Baggy Blues visit was a fantastic opportunity for local players.
“There were two under 16s playing in each team and it’s a very exciting time for these kids that at age of 15 or 16 they’re getting to play with some very talented cricketers,” Mr Kerin said.
The winner was the Bradman XI with 5/151 vs Murdoch XI with 7/132.
But it wasn’t all bronze and games.
The Baggy Blues visit was the result of a partnership with The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program and forms part of a larger tour of regional NSW, currently underway, which aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and promote available assistance
That theme played out at an official dinner in Cootamundra on Wednesday night and a mental health breakfast, attended by 75 people, the following morning.