Navy cricketers have a practice with a difference on ship

HIT FOR SIX The navy cricket team on board HMS Westminster.
HIT FOR SIX The navy cricket team on board HMS Westminster.
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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THE Royal Navy’s cricket team pitched up on HMS Westminster yesterday ahead of defending the armed forces title at Lord’s.

In a rare sight, sailors from the navy’s cricket squad faced a few balls on the cold steel of the frigate’s flight deck as they warmed up for the Inter Services Twenty20 competition.

The flag raising in Guildhall Square.

The flag raising in Guildhall Square.

Navy, Army and Royal Air Force teams will battle it out in a series of short games in London next Tuesday and the sailors hope they can keep hold of the trophy they won last year.

The navy’s cricket captain, Matthew Thompson is looking forward to leading his men out on the hallowed turf at Lord’s.

He said: ‘For me, it’s the number one cricket ground in the world. You can smell the history there.

‘It’s such a fantastic experience and on the back of winning the tournament last year, I’m feeling confident of regaining the trophy.’

The 25-year-old submariner, who serves as a weapons engineer on HMS Astute, added: ‘It’s a massive privilege and honour to represent the service, and now captaining the side at Lord’s will be the pinnacle of my achievements.’

He urged people to come and cheer on his side, adding: ‘I encourage everyone from the city to come and root for us so that we can become the best cricket side in the service.’

The navy’s cricket squad has a new kit thanks to a recent sponsorship deal with Kiwi – the shoe polish company.

Libby Williams, marketing manager of Kiwi, said: ‘We’re proud to help our heroes shine and look forward to seeing them hopefully retain the IST20 cup this year.’

The team’s arrival at Portsmouth Naval Base coincided with a number of flag-raising events to mark Armed Forces Day around the area.

The Armed Forces Day flag was raised at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth Guildhall and in Emsworth ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday.

To celebrate our military, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is hosting an open weekend on Saturday and Sunday, where visitors can look around new Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring and soon-to-be decommissioned HMS Gloucester.

The following weekend, July 2 and 3, will see Portsmouth City Council’s armed forces and veterans celebrations take place on Southsea Common.

Thousands of people are expected to attend both events.