Menorca Tour : 27-30 September 2002
Peter Andrew writes:
Jingle Bells? Hardly. A squad of 12 Cryptics took on the Menorca Cricket Club on one of the most picturesque grounds we have yet graced, and sportingly allowed our opponents to win 40-over games on successive days, although both matches went into the final over. Details anon, but the bookies made a killing. Who would have predicted Ware and Greenhough as the Cryptic top scorers in the respective matches? Modesty forbids identifying the most successful bowler.
The tour started at Gatwick on Friday, so early it was still nearly yesterday. Philip Wright set a record by immediately snogging a girl in the next check-in queue. The tedium of the flight was accentuated by a poor breakfast and some right-wing ranting from Tom Ware. Your correspondent was disappointed by the brevity of the wine list. Captain Richard Seeckts prevailed on Ross Greenwood to diversify out of equities and into champagne; Ross shared the Lanson with the captain’s wife, though not with the captain.
Menorca was hot and dry, the hotel adequate and clearly on Saga’s approved list. One expected a Shearing’s coach at any moment. The Friday – a rest day – was spent acclimatising. The Australians – Greenwood, and Dwight Cupit – spent most of the day asleep. Others played bowls, where Nick Pow discovered a persistent divergent bias in one of his balls. Predictably, Ware was enthusiastic, Wright, stylish.
By dinner, Mark Blamphin (‘Rum just doesn’t get to me’) wanted to start a food fight. An adequate first day’s drinking finished when the team mostly retired to bed. Peter Moore took a taxi into the capital to cruise some of the bars down by the harbour. Blamphin tried, and failed, to accompany him. He was then barred from the captain’s room by bouncer Greenwood (‘Clear off, mate, the skipper’s asleep in that bed’). After a few hours sleeping with a potted plant in the television room, he found his proper pit by the simple expedient of banging on every door in the corridor at around 5.00am until roommate Cupit gave in and let him in.
The following day saw a full Cryptic squad, resplendent in Dayglo pink tour shirts and distinguished dark blue caps, arrive at the splendid MCG. A lush outfield, bordered by dry stone walls, and a delightful clubhouse, bar and changing rooms built in the local style. It was a splendid setting to which justice could only be done by the oratory of Arlott, or the pen of James. The flies were a bit of a bugger, though.
Seeckts sportingly lost the toss, and we had both of the MCC openers back in the pavilion by the 34th over, having only put on 187. Greenwood (8-4-12-2) cleaned up the middle order, and the innings closed on 223 for 5.
Our reply started brightly with Wright and James Hogben taking us to 56, until both fell in the 13th over. The first eight Cryptics all got into double figures, but only Ware exceeded 21, his belligerent 44 containing a 6 and six 4s. We were ahead of the opposition’s scoring rate until the 26th over, but never had the wickets in hand to permit safe acceleration. Mark McLoughlin played his final (?) innings for the club, scoring 2 before the curtain was brought down on a Cryptic total of 195.
Mark’s last match for SCCC??
We took drinks with the opposition, marvelled at Jimmy Greenhough’s vocal range and repertoire in the pizzeria, and wondered at the attempts of Greenwood, Ware and Cupit to hurdle a parking barrier. For most, the evening ended a little after midnight. Peter Moore led a splinter group to a bar for Guinness until three-thirty.
Sunday saw a well-planned Cryptic attempt to avenge the loss of our unbeaten European record. Seeckts dispensed with the toss, and simply told the opposition that we would bat first. Cupit and Blamphin opened, the later earning the privilege after being 7 not out the previous day. This was a successful ploy right through to the sixth over, when three wickets fell with the score less than 25. This included the curio of Seeckts being out first ball for 1, run out by a country mile attempting a sharp second run after optimistic advice from Wright. The middle order (Hogben 29, Greenwood 24) took us to the middle of the innings, and a dogged undefeated 30 from Greenhough, half composed of singles, dragged us to a meagre 160 for 8. Peter Moore retained his international wicket intact. His 3 not out takes his overseas aggregate to 8, in two uncompleted innings.
The MCC reply was marred in the first over by an incident involving a noise, a deviation, an immobile batsman and the absence of an umpiring finger. This appeared to upset the normally placid Greenwood. Both openers were eventually stumped by Cupit off Greenhough, deceived by flight and guile. At the halfway point, MCC were 108 for 3, and cruising. However, determined bowling – notably in Pow’s second spell, which conceded 6 from five overs – becalmed them, and 16 overs in the latter part of their innings yielded a mere 39 runs. This left 12 required from the last three overs, but a four from Blamphin’s first ball in the last over gave MCC a 2-0 victory. Greenhough finished with excellent figures of 8-0-24-3.
Sorrows were drowned, most of us went to bed when the hotel bar closed around midnight. Peter Moore led a raiding party to local bars. And then got up to go running with Mrs Greenhough (‘wheezing’, she called it) the following morning.
We were lavishly entertained by the Seeckts’ and the Greenhoughs at their villa in the afternoon, where the tour fines of around €250 were donated to Mrs Greenhough in support of her imminent charity run. An uneventful if cramped flight had us back at Gatwick ten minutes ahead of schedule, where the Australians were given the usual rough ride that HM Customs reserve for descendents of Johnny No-Mates.
With 20/20 hindsight, we were not sufficiently determined with the bat in the face of lesser bowling than we normally face. Only Hogben (49), Greenwood (45) and Ware (44) aggregated more than 40 on the tour; yet only three batsmen averaged less than ten, two of them only batting once. And we bowled too short against good quality batting that was more used to the behaviour of the matting wicket than we were. We only took 12 wickets in total; only Greenwood’s economy rate, at 3.00 exactly, was less than 4 per over. McLoughlin failed again in his quest for a final career wicket. This year. Two catches were held (Cupit, Greenwood); more were dropped. However, the general quality of our ground fielding was very good; we remained determined and upbeat, and the overall experience (age!) of the team allowed us to drag ourselves back into contention in the second game.
We now seek suggestions for the 2004 tour. Majorca, Ibiza, Corfu, Gibraltar, the Loire Valley all have their proponents. Ideas to Seeckts.