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2015 Tour

Our Man in Brizzle by Oliver Breen
This is an extract of Olly's beautifully prepared Tour Report. 
I've cut a whole section off of the end for the protection off all parties (what goes on tour.. stays on tour).


Matt 


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DISCLAIMER

The following report is loosely based on fact, when I say loosely, some of this actually happened as described, a little bit was just in my mind and the other 98% is embellished because let’s face it no one needs a ball by ball description of a North Harrow batting collapse.

I've tried to be entertaining but bear in mind that it isn't natural for me, if you’re offended by anything here then just run me out next time we bat together, that’s assuming the bowler hasn't already done for me, which, let’s face it leaves you a very small window of opportunity. Sod it I’ll take my chances.

Above all this report will hopefully give those who couldn't make it a taste of what the weekend was like. Predominantly I think that would definitely be gin, gin mixed with the sweet, sweet taste of victory. 


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Build Up

Build-up to the game started early in the week, I thought I’d scroll back through WhatsApp to see when we first started talking about the tour but after reading through 20 minutes of cutting wit and incisive comment (or pure garbage if you ask Robin) I’d only got as far as Friday.

The week before the game was largely spent keeping up with TB’s insatiable appetite for weather updates – seriously give a man a British passport and it’s all he can think about.

Luckily Fraser stepped into the breach and formed Fraser Rallison Weather Inc – providing for our up to the minute weather forecasting needs. If only he applied this much diligence to his studies he’d be running the world by now. Here’s a snippet of the level of detail we got.

Saturday’s weather forecast for Bath looks overcast. From 6:00-13:00 we have cloudy weather with the chance of sun. The weather turns from 13:00 onwards when we have light rain showers with the chance of sun. The highest chance of precipitation occurs from 14:00 onwards which is 40%

Rallison Weather Inc. Forecasts that Play will occur on Saturday throughout the day with the chance that play will stop occasionally for rain

Needless to say the early forecasts looked like we’d be lucky to get any cricket at all in and some of the touring group were seeing the chance of a free weekend pass slowly slipping from their grasp. A last minute improving of the situation, and the fact that Robin was already on the hook for all the rooms, meant that come Saturday morning the team was ready to travel.



Match Day 1 – Beehive Southwick

It was an early start early on the Saturday morning with levels of excitement approaching that of my kids on Christmas morning.

Amar as senior pro tried to instruct the team on the correct way to prepare with a brief yoga session and a cleansing juice drink. At least he said it was cleansing – to me it looks more like the contents of someone who had already been cleansed…..


mmmmm cleansy


But while Nabeel chuckled on Saturday morning, little was he to know how much he would rue not taking the advice later in the evening, but more on that later.

The convoy down started in suitably shambolic fashion. Sukh assuming that someone would do the work for him turned up with no directions other than a vague sense that he should head west. It was agreed he’d follow me to the ground. It all went smoothly till the cars reached the motorway when the brisk pace set by a giant 7 seater people carrier proved far too much for Sukh to keep up with. Never mind he’d catch up when we stopped for coffee, or so we thought. A quick Sat Nav diversion to avoid traffic saw the lead car pull onto the M25 and off to the M3 while oblivious to the change in direction Sukh carried on pootling down the M4 at a steady 50 miles an hour.

Unfortunately just like our calling in the middle a lack of communication was to be our downfall as this summary from WhatsApp shows

Amar:   Olly just to let you know Sukh has no idea where he is going. Let us know when and where you are stopping for petrol.

Us:      Which road are you on? What can you see?

Amar:   You’re on the M3 we are on the M4. When do we come off the M4 guys?

Us:      About 45 minutes ago!

With teamwork like this, what could go wrong on the weekend?


A quick rescue mission from Raghu in the support car and eventually the team converged at the ground. Not only that but all 11 were there in advance of the scheduled start time! Maybe our problem with timeliness is just down to the fact all the grounds are too close to home.

Early rumours of a coup were quashed when Sukh walked out for the toss with the opposition captain as it turned out that while Robin was there in body his mind was somewhere on the south coast with the rest of the Watford fans in Brighton.

The toss was won and North Harrow took to the field.

Returning to North Harrow for the tour, Sukh threw the new ball to Garth. Newer members to the club have been regaled with tales of a giant of a man, lured down to the West Country before his time. “Like a pasty Joel Garner” Cloth has been heard to whisper – a wistful look in his eye, 3 overs later with the opposition 9/3 the skipper had to haul him off in the interests of getting an invite back next year, but not before a small imp like, bitter no 3 bat (joking - Editor) had been sent back to the hutch for a duck. He’d be back for his revenge later.  Partnering Garth with the new ball Nabeel bowled a tight 3 over spell giving the batsmen no respite.

Normal service was resumed when TB and I, more familiar with the way North Harrow should do it, bowled the expected line – 6 inches outside leg stump. The opposition’s no’s 4 and 5 dug in and tried to consolidate.

TB and I were replaced by Amar, who bowled excellently picking up a wicket and Robin, who bowled, as Sukh shuffled the pack looking for a breakthrough. The No 5 bat seemed intent on getting himself out and was dropped twice by Sukh, once by Robin and once by Nabeel and  It was now that imp child* had his revenge , in his new role as square leg umpire. Before going any further it’s worth bringing the reader’s attention to the laws of cricket, 42.6 to be precise.

6. Dangerous and unfair bowling

(b) Bowling of high full pitched balls

(i) Any delivery, other than a slow paced one, which passes or would have passed on the full above waist height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease is to be deemed dangerous and unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker.

(ii) A slow delivery which passes or would have passed on the full above shoulder height of the striker standing upright at the popping crease is to be deemed dangerous and unfair, whether or not it is likely to inflict physical injury on the striker.

(* Still joking; I promise! - Editor)

Not once but twice the No 5 skied a full pitched delivery from Robin – the first caught by Fraser and the second by Robin himself – only to be denied by the outstretched arm of the square leg monstrosity calling a no ball. The first time it happened the delivery was touch and go shoulder height, everyone shrugged and the game continued but the second time the ball would have struggled to clear the shoulders of Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy or Dopey. Robin replaced by second spells for TB and I without the wicket he probably should have had.

But enough moping, a hostile and accurate second spell from me broke the deadlock with the wickets of the oppo's two best batsmen (this may be the 1% of pure fiction) and we were on our way again.

This was then followed up by Garth and Nabeel closing out the match with a combination of wicket taking non pitching random spin from Garth who added another 3 wickets and almost knocked out Fraser, standing up to the stumps, with a well disguised quicker ball and Nabeel who took the wicket his accurate bowling deserved to close out the innings.

It was during Garths second spell that I’m afraid to have to say Robin Murray – Mr Cricket himself - forgot everything he’s ever told us in his pre-match speech about the spirit of the game. With his mind firmly on the live score updates from the Watford match, there was a massive cheer and slightly strange two armed, jumping, gyrating dance just as Garth released another beauty. Watford were up and Beehive Southwick soon dismissed for 133 on a pitch that while offering a little movement didn't look too bad to bat on.

Tea

A great spread with a whole table dedicated just to cake, another with mini sausages, sandwiches, pizza, quiche all washed down with proper hot tea. Much appreciated by all.

This time last year we were sitting in a room that resembled something from the saw movies with a DIY spread in Gunnersbury Park. How times change.

North Harrow reply

As the first game on tour Sukh changed the usual batting line up and sent Ahsun and Matt out to open the batting. I don’t know what he expected but it was definitely different, with the traditional middle order collapse promoted straight to the start! Ahsun departing for a couple and Matt a single. Raghu looked in good nick for one ball, dispatching it for a big six over long on but then failed to hit a straight one as he attempted a sweep and we were 22/3. Fraser departed shortly after having forgotten how good he’s been looking in the nets and perhaps over-thinking things a tad too much. Nothing a net against the 15 year olds in Harrow rec ground and a weekend with Starfish shouldn't fix though.

It was left to Sukh and Robin to stabilise things as we slowly edged towards the total but wickets continued to fall with Sukh, Amar and Garth all getting out after making a start. With the prospect of rain approaching a quick cameo from TB closed the gap slightly but still left us short when he departed to be replaced by Nabeel. The much promised rain finally came down with both teams pushing for the win, North Harrow needing 33 more runs with 2 wickets and plenty of overs left when the captains finally shook on an honourable draw.

A special mention here to Mark Southern – the tours official supporter who braved the deluge to cover umpiring duties for the last 10 overs. 



BEEHIVE SOUTHWICK vs NORTH HARROW CRICKET CLUB

MATCH DRAWN - RAIN & HANDSHAKES




Sat Night

Then it was onto the main purpose of the tour. Who knows what was going through his mind when Garth offered to put us all up at a place which I think unanimously was decided as bloody brilliant.

Rooms were quickly allocated along racial grounds (new members – I’m only joking here, no one wanted to share with Fraser!!) and not wanting to push any stereotypes but you can probably guess who were the last lot down.

When Raghu and Nabeel had finally joined us the team settled in to a top quality meal and the conversation turned to North Harrows wicket keeper – perhaps foolish on a day when Fraser had kept superbly taking two catches but Raghu (perhaps with the aid of alcohol) finally found someone prepared to bowl with him behind the stumps and at that he considered the debate closed.

It’s at this point that Nabeel’s earlier decision not to follow the Amar recommend juice start to the day came back to haunt him (remember that – pages and pages of waffle back – in fact has anyone even made it this far? Seriously don’t you lot have some work to do?). Blocked up almost to the point of explosion and unable to ease the pressure by natural means he turned to Raghu ‘ The Plumber ‘ Kerakatty. No one knows what Raghu did that night but by the end of it Nabeel was smiling and Raghu had the 1000 yard stare of a man who had seen too much.

It’s at this stage that my memory blurs, there were a couple more whip rounds to top up the kitty and then suddenly Garth started what can only be called a gin conveyor belt. No sooner was one down than another one appeared. At some stage there was a chin up challenge in the smoking shed where Matt showed what visiting a gym could do and apart from that there was probably only one other thing that anyone can remember, best described through the medium of a poor attempt at a limerick:


The Cougar – by Anon

There was a woman from Bristol,

Who’d had children by the fistful,

She took a shine to Olly,

But didn’t realise her folly,

And was left looking more than a bit wistful.

 

About 3 hours later than they should of the remnants of the team staggered up to bed, to catch what brief rest they could before the second game of the tour.



Match Day 2 – Almondsbury CC

Breakfast the next day saw scenes more akin to the Walking Dead than a team of athletes (however loosely you define that) although judging by the rosy glow coming from Ahsun – a night in bed with a blond Eastern European is far better for your health than one spent in the company of the rest of us and a couple of litres of spirits.


The overly enthusiastic aims of a pre-game 11am net quickly dissolved as the majority of the team return to bed to take full advantage of the late checkout presciently arranged by Robin before the tour started. But even with the extra hour the team didn’t look ready to take on an Almondsbury side that promised to offer a stiffer challenge than the team faced yesterday. The idea of 40 overs chasing boundaries loomed for some of us. For others it was just the dreams of wicket keeping glory.

Robin – his attention now back on the cricket, returned to skipper and taking one look at the team hastily negotiated to take the field to try and get a few hours out of his hungover charges.

Little should he have worried as 7 balls later Raghu, fired up by his power nap bowled his first ball full and straight. It failed to bounce and trapped the batsmen plumb in-front of middle, a horrible delivery to receive straight up. For the second time in two days North Harrow had struck early.

Unfortunately that’s as good as it got for a while. Almondsbury’s other opening bat looked at ease and was able to farm the strike bringing up his 50 out of a team total of 61 in the first 10 overs with Nabeel’s first over coming in for particular punishment. We’ve often spoken about  taking on stronger opposition but Almondsbury’s opening bat was a clear demonstration of what that means and despite one great attempt at a diving half chance by Matt, and a tough skier that got caught in the wind when Ahsun went for it, we never really looked like getting him out. 

So it was with some surprise when after hitting his 50 he proceeded retire (apparently he’d done exactly the same thing the day before) and 60-1 with a game that felt like it was slipping away from us suddenly felt very different.



After getting punished in his first over Nabeel then proceeded to bowl superbly taking 2 wickets in his next 4 overs for very few runs. Garth also nipped in with a wicket to add to his 6 of the day, before but the real damage was done in a superb spell form Ahsun who took 3 wickets for a solitary run and Sukh who also took 3 wickets - one of which needs to be explained. With the opposition on the ropes their last proper batsmen (the skipper) came in, first ball up he receives what from now on can only be known as the BALL OF THE CENTURY, I’ve tried to write an explanation several times  but this really needs a picture to explain it – 


It was really nothing like this

The retired opener brought himself back on to try and boost the total, but clever skippering from Robin got him off strike almost immediately and Sukh polished off the number 11 to leave North Harrow an eminently chase-able 86 to win.

A superb turnaround with the team taking (or in some instances being given) 9 wickets for 25 runs to haul themselves right back on top. 


The Chase


Robin and Fraser opened the batting on a difficult wicket against two good quality bowlers and progress was slow, with a single wide the only run in the first 3 overs.

Fraser was then unlucky to get a very thin edge off their best bowler and Amar was next in. Showing game management not often displayed by North Harrow Robin and Amar proceeded to edge towards the target in a chance-less partnership with both batsmen leaving anything not there to hit – lessons from the Saturday already learnt or just two different batsmen?

With about 20 runs required and only 5 minutes before I could settle down to watch Arsenal take on Chelsea in the bar, Robin scythed a wide ball from the left arm spinner onto his stumps, he was to later claim that  he’d been trying to make sure I got a bat but I think really he knew it was time for kick off in the big match.

I returned to the clubhouse 10 minutes later to resume watching the match while a combination of Amar’s strokeplay and Matt’s arse** knocked off the remaining runs to cement a 7 wicket victory. 

(** These were actually byes not leg byes - it was a grubber outside of off that I got nowhere near - Editor (Matt))


Tea


Due to the brevity of the first innings tea had been postponed till after the match and I believe was also supplied by Garths pub that with a spread of chicken wings, sandwiches and chocolate cake on top of everything else over the weekend must have been approaching bankruptcy by now. A couple of points off for the lack of a dedicated cake table but then maybe that’s just expecting too much every week.
The team retired to the bar and while Nabeel worked out his return on capital on the petrol money the oppo skipper, so impressed by our professional demeanor at the start of the match (some peoples standards are  way too low) signed himself up for the North Harrow 20/20’s later in the season. 

 
The tour drew to a close and everyone slowly headed home. A final moment of entertainment was provided by Robin who delivered a unique performance of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s Islands in the Stream. So impressive was it – Amar has promised to add a slot at the next Trinity quiz so a wider audience can fully appreciate it – one not to miss for sure.


Sukh and Amar showing stamina that puts the younger club members to shame then retired to the Trinity for another 4 hours of drinking and with that the Tour was considered at an end.




Conclusions and awards
So a close run match cut short by rain, a crushing victory two opposition keen to have us back next year and a great evening venue meant that all in this was a cracking weekend for all involved. I’ve stolen (and bastardised) Simon Hughes rating system from Yakking Around the World (a great read for anyone interested) as the easiest way of summing up the tour



 LOCATION   CRICKET  TEAS  WOMEN
 8 8 9 0

Tour Rating:- 25



Oliver Breen
Tour Reporter












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