The Djiver Ashes: China’s fiercest backyard sporting rivalry closes out its ninth entry in the history books

GRUDGE MATCH: The Djiver Ashes started as a backyard rivalry and has expanded to a day for the community to reunite, as well hurl insults and sledges. Picture: Jack Peacock boasts some of the fiercest rivalries insport –the Ashes show the depth of resentment for the ‘old enemy’, State of Origin is based on ancient state-line grievances, and any match between little brother New Zealand promises anger, passion and hate.
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One sporting rivalry, based on a self-curatedpitch at the Pelican Foreshore, surpasses them all –the backyard cricket battle between Nathan Diver and Sam Djodan.

Djodan, who works as a sports reporter for NBN News, and competes in kayaking events regularly, revealed that nothing gets his heart pounding like the spectacle that has become known as the Djiver Ashes.

“There’s nothing like it, it gets down to just 10 runs in it and we still need to get four wickets and I start to feel a little sick,” the Team Djodan captain revealed. “The play is so intense, and violent, that we can only do it once a year.”

The Djiver Ashes, once played in a long backyard and contested between five-a-side teams, has grown beyond just the original sledge from Diver in 2012 –that Djodan was fairly rubbish at cricket.

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“It’s become a day of the year that everyone that’s involved looks forward to,” Djodan said. “A lot of us that have played over the years have moved away or are doing other things, so it’s a chance to come back together before Christmas and have some drinks with cricket.”

“That said, there’s nothing like winning in the match either. So many of them come down to the wire with less than ten runs in it, so to win those kind of games feels amazing.”

Team Djodan were againvictors in 2017, and Djodan pointed to one crucial moment that potentially handed them their eighth win in nine –the dismissal of Team Diver’s batsman for a golden duck.

The reason for Nathan Buyers departing with a humbling quack? The time-honoured sledging that has become ingrained in the Djiver Ashes culture.

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“Nathan Buyers went for a golden duck. He’s played a fair bit of cricket growing up,but he walked out to a barrage of sledges and insults,” Djodan said. “He tried as hard as he could to not get caught up in it, but you just can’t.”

It was the final ball of the over that spelled defeat for Team Diver’s hopes, and although Byers blocked the ball comfortably enough, his march from behind his crease to the bowler to send back a spray of insults opened the door for a contentious run-out.

It was enough for Djodan and his drafted team to collect the Ashes for the year, and the bragging rights until next December.

Does defeat get any easier for the side that has become the NSW Blues of the series?

“It’s not fantastic, no, but it’s not like they’ve been whitewashes every time,” captain Nathan Diver said. “It’s always the little things that mean it goes one way or another. We’re all painfully average when it comes to playing, so it’s not like one side is the clear favourite.”

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Diver was also quick to point out that most of Djodan’s success had come from the early days of the contest, when it was just “three against three in the backyard”.

“We got a lot bigger towards the end, but it’s just grown to this now,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to get together every year and see it grow. So many people come every year and say they want to get involved, so it’s always on the upswing.

There isonly one way forwardfor the ultimate backyard rivalry –onwardand upwards. The long struggles of Team Diver, and the “sustained dominance” of Team Djodan will once again be put to the test in 2018, for better or for worse.

Follow all the pre-match interviews, insights, betting odds, and general coverage of the annual Djiver Asheatfacebook老域名购买/djiverashes/.