JH visited Darwin on Monday August 5, where he attended the Darwin Cup (and failed to pick the winner). On Tuesday and Wednesday August 6 and 7 he headed east to northern Queensland to visit aboriginal communities in Weipa. Australia played Bangladesh in a one-day international at Marrara Oval, Darwin, on Wednesday the 7th – the first ODI ever held in Darwin (which had staged the First Test between Australia and Bangladesh almost three weeks earlier). JH wasn’t there.
Maybe if Australia was playing England, or South Africa, or New Zealand….? Of course, Bradman never played against Bangladesh, nor did Menzies ever watch them play.
JH was quizzed about his non-attendance at the cricket on Tuesday the 5th on Darwin radio station Top FM by Daryl Manzie. The relevant extract from the interviews is as follows (source):
Okay. And lastly Prime Minister, you’ve enjoyed our Darwin Cup. We’ve got the cricket against Bangladesh, again a one-day match, here tomorrow. You’re not tempted to stay an extra day?
Much and all as I like cricket, I can’t get into a situation where I see every cricket match that takes place. I’d like to, but I have some very important commitments in the Cape York area. I want to meet the people in the Cape York Land Council, I want to learn something of the programs they have there involving restrictions on the consumption of alcohol and the very big link between alcohol consumption and violence against women. And I’ll have to give this one a miss.
As a Prime Minister, JH doesn’t appear to have had much interaction with Bangladesh. The then-PM of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, visited Australia in October 1999, and Howard’s office issued a short press release to announce that fact. Despite the brevity of the statement the PM’s office did find space to mention that:”Of course our two countries also share a love of cricket. ” (Source)
JH spoke about his meeting with Sheikh Masina in a radio interview with David Hookes and Gerard Healy on 3AW a couple of months later:
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, when you are dealing on very serious matters, and that’s not to put our topic of sport down, but more serious matters with the heads of State of other cricketing playing nations. Is it used as an icebreaker?
PRIME MINISTER: …when the Prime Minister of Bangladesh was out here recently she told me very enthusiastically how the interest in cricket had burgeoned in Bangladesh as a result of Bangladesh beating Pakistan in the one-day game in the World Cup. And you could tell from her that the game was really going to continue to grow and she was very appreciative of the interest the Australian Cricket Board was taking. But your point is right.”