Sydney Swans legend Jude Bolton traded a Sherrin for a Kookaburra against some unlikely opponents – Kenya's Maasai Warriors – at the SCG on Tuesday. While the Swans' 2016 roster were beginning the final stage of their pre-season training regimen in Coffs Harbour, Bolton was left to hold the fort against the Warriors, a travelling band of traditional Kenyan tribesmen.
The Warriors, who hail from a small village in the Laikipia region of Kenya and who have clung on to their traditional way of life, will play at the Primary Club of Australia's annual Marathon Cricket event to raise money for sporting and recreational facilities for the disabled.
The remote tribesmen will trade spears and shields for bats and balls when they take on a Swans XI legends team and combined rugby and rugby league legends at the SCG on Thursday.
Former Swans midfielder Bolton, who will join the likes of Adam Goodes, Phil Waugh, George Gregan, Andrew Mehrtens and Wendell Sailor in facing the Warriors, was suitably impressed with the Kenyans during their light hit out against the Swans.
"I saw them steamroll Harry Cunningham. I think I'm batting at No.3 so we'll see how we go," Bolton said.
"It's extremely special, just to have a side like the Maasai Warriors cricket team who are raising some of the social issues that are happening in their country.
"We've seen some different characters come through the SCG but just to have a special team like this and the opportunity to play a sport they love against them is going to be really cool."
The Maasai villagers, who play in their red tribal attire, picked up cricket five years ago in a bid to draw attention to the societal and cultural issues surrounding their tribe, including fighting for women's rights, campaigning against retrogressive cultural practices, such as female genital manipulation, and early childhood marriages, spreading HIV/AIDS awareness, and promoting wildlife conservation.
Captain Sonyanga Ngais described cricket as a "tool" to help advance their cause but noted the similarities it had with their way of life.
"Cricket was introduced recently but the technique really is just a cultural way of surviving and the way of warriors hunting and defending their society," he said. "Bowling is like throwing a spear, and batting is just like using a shield to protect yourself against attacks from the wildlife or during the warriors' battles. So it is like a cultural thing, we have just related a little bit to cricket so that's why we play cricket in our traditional clothes."
This will not be the debut for the Maasai Warriors on one of the world's most famous grounds. They played at Lord's in 2013 and in Cape Town in 2012.
The team will spend nine days in Australia, visiting iconic sites and seeing local wildlife before returning to their traditional mud huts and scenery in East Africa.