This is the sixth article, titled Cricket ministry's Early Years.
These 'cricket ministry' articles will take the reader inside the world of cricket including cricket festivals, cricket touring, the early years of cricket chaplaincy and the nature of cricket relationships.
In those years as the Australian Cricket Team chaplain he saw five generations of cricketers come through the Australian cricket team system, in an era after the World Series Cricket and before this new cricket revolution of Twenty/20.
In his era as Chaplain to the Australian XI the Australian Cricket Team captains were Kim Hughes, Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. In this role he was interviewed by numerous media outlets including television, radio and newsprint.
The sixth article in this Ashes lead-up series, Mark Tronson discusses those early years of the Cricket ministry and as strange as it might seem, he's left this to latter as the previous five articles were written from a position of God's grace to the Cricket Ministry.
When the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) approved the Cricket Chaplaincy with M V Tronson as that Chaplain, Mark arranged for two colleagues and himself meet for lunch with the then ACB Chairman, Fred Bennett (now the late).
Fred Bennett was based in New South Wales so this proved helpful, and Mark's colleagues were the Sports and Leisure Ministry original chairman the Reverend Roger Reid and Sports and a Leisure Ministry foundation member, the Reverend Dr Ken Manley.
The luncheon proved a milestone as Fred Bennett assured that there was much good-will associated with the chaplaincy appointment and it was now up to the Sports and Leisure Ministry's Cricket Chaplaincy to develop the ministry.
As to funding the Cricket Chaplaincy, Fred Bennett made the poignant point that the Cricket Chaplain would be paid the same as the ACB Chairman. The group immediately grasped the implication.
The process of the Cricket Chaplaincy was to make contact with the team manager Bob Merriman (who years later was elected as an ACB Chairman). At this stage no one quite knew what the Cricket Chaplain might be engaged in, but it didn't take long as that was the year Kim Hughes stood down as the Australian Cricket Team captain.
The following season the ACB appointed an Australian Cricket Team Coach which was Bob Simpson, a position which he retained for some years. Bob Simpson welcomed the chaplain but with strict protocols which M V Tronson adhered.
The Cricket Chaplaincy developed an annual domestic season routine which engaged the two days of training prior to a Test Match at three Test Cricket venues, the first day's play, and the same at a one-day fixture. In that first year 1984 M V Tronson initiated his annual letter for distribution prior to the first Test which continues today.
On one occasion, when the English team was touring Australia (the Ashes), the MCC manager (coach) Ted Dexter and Mark Tronson were chatting at the SCG on a training day and Bob Simpson walked past and said two words: "G'day Rev". Ted Dexter's seriousness in the discussion took on an altogether different tone and he confided: "But for Pastoral matters, two of my top cricketers did not come on this tour."
As a result, I enquired as to whether he knew Andrew Wingfield-Digby (M V Tronson's UK counterpart) who was also a cricketer and I asked whether I might convey this conversation to him. Ted Dexter agreed and requested a copy of that correspondence. Several months after their return to England, Andrew Wingfield-Digby faxed to say that Ted Dexter has been in touch and he'd been appointed 'the chaplain' to the MCC English Cricket team.
The following Ashes series in Australia, Andrew Wingfield-Digby was with the MCC team. Both Andrew and Mark on one occasion were standing together at the SCG nets while the English team were training. The cricket celebrity English all rounder and captain Ian Botham saw the two chaplains together and humourously commented that God was on both sides!!
Mark Tronson in his pastoral care visited Australian cricketers in their homes and work places (this was in an era when Cricketers still worked). He travelled in this role to every State in Australia and was engaged in ministry from infant bereavement all the way through to celebrations in performances and first selections.
His cricketer and family pastoral ministry involved personal one to one evangelism as such invitations opened. For three years in the mid 1990's Mark Tronson had the added help with the Australian team ministry of the Reverend Russell Hinds, the former Qld Cricket chaplain during a huge expansion period of the Sports and Leisure Ministry.
All this travel and ministry was only able due to the faith living financial funding provided him and that of his five praying ladies.
Mark and Delma Tronson sought out five praying ladies who would commit themselves to prayer for one hour each day for their marriage, their four children and their ministry. This has been the spiritual strength and hallmark of their 26 years in Cricket ministry.