My last tour in my time alongside the Australian cricket team was to New Zealand in March 2000 - and in November of that year I moved sideways to Life After Cricket with the establishment of the Retired Australian Cricketers Bi-Annual Newsletter (published 30 March and 30 November each year) with my editorial team: Allan Border, Greg Chappell, David Boon, Kim Hughes and NSW & VIC Cricket, Phil Emery and Jason Bakker.
After Australia lost the Ashes in England in 2005, I was invited to meet up again with the cricketers in Brisbane for the Australian summer series. In those post team chaplaincy years from 2001, I wrote an annual cricket letter which was passed to each cricketer. They were also receiving the Retired Australian Cricketers Bi-Annual Newsletter through their State Associations.
My time started during the Kim Hughes era (a long time ago now), prior to Bob Simpson as the first coach – he had a philosophy of doing simple things well. At that time he asked me what I knew about cricket - "very little" - he didn't want interference in cricket issues. That was an important lesson in professional sport chaplaincy appointments, coaches did not want a pseudo second coach on board.
Life After Cricket has been very productive. Having the "respite as the flagship" for cricketers has been the key with former cricketers on board. It was Allan Border who assisted me with the title of "Cricket family respite" and Greg Chappell did that video interview on respite with me.
It's a people thing. I was honoured with a 60th birthday SCG Corporate Box in recognition of my many years in cricket ministry – this occurred on the 6 January 2012.
Mr Basil Sellers AM
In my time, being a full time Australian team chaplain (as it were) was the way to go - I had the funding from Mr Basil Sellers AM to travel. I was always separate and at arm's length - that proved critical. I was never a pseudo cricketer or a heart throb mate - I never sought to be.
I was with the team 17 years. At the end I was tired, away from the family too much. I visited many of the cricketers in their homes / work / or somewhere else. It is a different kind of conversation away from cricket. Now, I have a broader ministry when I see them at social occasions, such as Basil Sellers' functions / parties and or at Festival of Crickets. I have the occasional privilege of being on a Panel with former cricketers. Many retired cricketers claim I know the secrets – want to keep me close in case I need the proverbial axe in the head (as it were).
Each fresh ministry generation have to find their own way – I cannot transfer what I had .... all Ministers find this when they relocate to a fresh church ministry. Having a stammer was not half bad either, there was a famous cricketer who stammered. They saw me as no threat yet close enough to have a quiet chat.
I have met most of the current lads at the AIS Cricket as my ministry provided respite for all AIS young athletes which included the cricketers. Delma and I had an annual talk both the men and women youngsters on the value of 'respite'. The AIS cricketers no longer come to Brisbane for 3-4 months, now it's short term two week specialist visits, then home again. It is more like a holiday, this itself is respite.
Our 14 years in Moruya providing respite to the AIS young athletes 1992-2005 - then to Tweed Heads, the same for the Qld based AIS units – those young people are now leading figures in their sports (1992 is 22 years ago). Those links continue to bear fruit with my Olympic ministry.
In the world of top sport, "ministry" in a world of multi-million dollar deals and contracts, in one reality, ministry is a tiny infinitesimal component, and critical to recognise this. But in another reality, even those who makes these deals (as it were) valued a quiet chat or a word of personal encouragement,. In my 17 years as team chaplain, I made it a point to ring the ACB Chairman at home once a year and offer such a word of support. It was nothing, yet it was everything.
Art has also played a part in my cricket ministry – two of my cricket paintings have gained some recognition, "Where they run" which is a spoof on the statistical attention of everything that happens on the pitch, and the second, "First Day's Play" of Allan Border leading his team onto the Gabba.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Dr Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at