High Point Cricket Club in the nets Down Under.

Tour of Australia
By David Perry of www.furnituretoday.com
Australia — Bedding veteran Mark Hobson led his High Point Cricket Club on an historic trip to this cricket-loving nation, playing three matches against a team of Sealy Australia executives, managers and employees.  In what organizers said was the first time that a U.S. cricket team had traveled to this Land Down Under, the High Point Cricket Club won three close games in a spirited competition that left some of the Australian spectators in shock. They didn’t realize that cricket was played in the United States, let alone that Americans could play cricket that well.

High Point players with former Australia player Matthew Hayden.

The trip was the brainchild of Simon Dyer, managing director of Sealy Australia, and Hobson, a 25-year veteran of Sealy who is now president of Colonial LLC, based in High Point, NC, USA. Dyer and Hobson both love cricket and still play the game, and they came up with the idea for the tour at a dinner at the Las Vegas Market in January 2014.  “Simon and I both agreed that life is too short and that we should take the opportunity to do something memorable that so many others would enjoy as much as we would,” Hobson said.  After 10 months of planning and preparation, the trip came off late last year.

Hobson led the High Point Cricket Club, which plays matches at the Hobson Cricket Ground near High Point, on the 10-day tour of Australia, where the group was hosted by Sealy Australia executives Dyer, Ross Gage, national sales and marketing manager, David Wood, chief operating officer, and other members of the Sealy Australia team.

One of the highlights of the tour was the opening match, played in the ANZ stadium in Sydney, which was opened at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. A message on the stadium’s huge screen welcomed the High Point Cricket Club to Australia.

That wasn’t the only memorable welcome. On the long Qantas flight from the U.S. to Sydney, the Australian captain of the plane took to the plane’s intercom to say that he and the crew “wished the High Point Cricket Club, from the Members of the High Point Cricket Club stand at attention during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before the first match.  USA of all places, best of luck on their first-ever cricket tour of Australia.” The passengers responded with resounding applause.

The team before departure to Australia.

The two other games were played at the Brookfield Cricket Club in Brisbane, an Australian National Heritage site that was opened as a cricket ground in 1869.  “The games were played for many reasons,” Hobson said. “It was great fun, of course, but we were also playing for pride and bragging rights over the chance to win the Dyer-Hobson Trophy, which is destined to be a classic in the world of cricket.”  The competition was heated.  “Players from both sides are highly competitive, as you would expect of those who work in the mattress industry, and the standard of play was surprisingly good,” Hobson said. “The games were all closely fought.”  Even though cricket attracts little attention in the United States, the High Point Cricket Club has carved out a niche for itself in North Carolina.

For the past decade, the club and 24 other teams in the Carolina Cricket League have played games every weekend from March through October.  The High Point Cricket Club has won the league championship on a number of occasions, but the team was still a novelty to many cricket-loving Australians.  The tour gave the Americans spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House and the nearby Harbor Bridge, a visit to see koala bears and kangaroos at an animal sanctuary, a walk along famous Bondi Beach, and a river cruise on the Brisbane River.

The tour included a formal dinner at Brisbane’s Queensland Club, an exclusive private club that opened almost 200 years ago and is frequented by members of the British Royal family.  Members of both teams wore their team blazers and ties to the dinner, where the guest of honor was Matthew Hayden, one of the speeches were made at the dinner and the Dyer-Hobson Trophy was officially presented to the High Point Cricket Club.

Digital scorecard showing High Point Cricket Club logo.

“This was a once in a lifetime experience, and one that we will all cherish,” Hobson said. “I must thank Simon, Ross and David and all of their colleagues at Sealy Australia for making this trip possible.”  “It was our pleasure to host Mark and his teammates for this
historic cricket tour,” Dyer added. “While I wish we could have won, The High Point Cricket Club won the Dyer-Hobson Trophy. the games, we were all winners with the fellowship we shared on those 10 days together. New friendships were made that will last a lifetime and memories were created that will never die.”

Dyer added one other comment: “We respectfully request a rematch.”  The rematch is tentatively set for October of 2016, in the United States.