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A Showdown of epic proportions

Sparked by an idea thrown around by passionate football fans on social media, leading to an email exchange between former Adelaide captain Taylor ‘Tex’ Walker and Port Adelaide skipper Tom Jonas.

This is how the widely supported Twenty20 cricket Showdown, for South Australian bushfire relief, was brought to life.

With the Showdown forming an important part of both clubs’ history, the Crows and Power put their fierce rivalry aside to take part in the Twenty20 event, raising more than $1 million for bushfire relief at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

“From Tex’s email to the game being confirmed; it was a real snowball effect,” Jonas told following the Power’s 14-run win.

“For the boys knowing they were going to be running out onto Adelaide Oval to play cricket, which is incredibly rare for us, and then to be able to support the state as well, it was extra incentive to do what we could achieve.”

Despite taking to the field for countless Showdowns over the years, Jonas said he felt surprisingly nervous walking onto Adelaide Oval with bat and ball in hand in front of the 34,219-strong crowd.

“It’s fair to say I’d prefer to be playing one-out in the cage (isolated deep in the forward line against his opponent) during a Showdown, rather than standing under a high-ball or facing a quick bowler,” he joked.

Although he didn’t achieve his dream of hitting a boundary on the Oval, Jonas said he was incredibly proud of the camaraderie shown between the two sides and everyone involved on the day.

With emergency services and volunteers facing countless hours away from their families over Christmas and the summer break, the Adelaide and Port Adelaide communities wanted to give back to those who had selflessly given their time in the midst of the crisis.

Each team boasted one Country Fire Service (CFS) volunteer, in addition to eight AFL players, four male cricketers and one female cricketer, on the day, as a show of gratitude for the work those emergency service people have done to protect and support the community.

Power forward Kane Farrell said it was the least the players could do for the emergency services volunteers.

“You’re trying to put a smile on their face as well but you know that they’ve been doing it tough and working really hard to support our communities… that element is definitely always in the back of your mind,” Farrell told after the game.

Farrell, who bowled the first ball in the Showdown, said he was incredibly proud to be part of a sporting community that were so willing to give back.

“What the entire AFL industry and wider community have been able to do to support Australia’s bushfires has been quite incredible… we raised more money than we ever thought possible,” he said.

“It was a great feeling knowing that we were able to come out here, raise money, put on a good show and know that everyone had a good time.”

Known for their cricketing prowess following last year’s premiership in the Division 3 of the Adelaide Turf Cricket Association Twenty20 competition, Port Adelaide was boosted by strong performances from Travis Boak (44 runs), Connor Rozee (29) and defender Tom Clurey (29).

Although they fell short in the final over, Adelaide fought gallantly with impressive innings’ from Twenty20 captain Tom Lynch and a slow, but steady, outing from Walker.

Despite his solid work rate with the bat, it was Rozee’s shining moment in the outfield that caught the eye of the crowd. The 20-year-old added provided one of the highlights of the match, taking a diving catch at full speed to dismiss Adelaide Strikers opener Jake Weatherald.

Although the rising star’s athletic performance was the highlight for many, it was an impressive over from defender Tom Clurey, with the bat, that caught the eye of Jonas.

Off South Australian and Melbourne Renegades bowler, Kane Richardson, Clurey hit four boundaries before his stunning over ended prematurely with Richardson finally taking his scalp for 29 runs.

“The boys will take that to the bank and no doubt he’ll be strutting around the club feeling pretty happy with himself and what he’s been able to achieve,” Jonas said.

Jonas reflected on the enormity of the occasion, summing up the overriding meaning behind putting on an event like this for such an important cause.

“We’re in an incredibly privileged position as footballers and we should use our position in the community to make a change,” Jonas said.

“It’s about the greater good and what we can do to leave the AFL, the community and everyone else in a better position than when we arrived here.”

T20 Showdown playing kits for Port Adelaide are available for auction and donations can still be made.