Menorca Tour : 20-24 September 2012

Peter Andrew writes:

Team in Menorca 2012

In a successful and thoroughly enjoyable tour, honour was regained against splendid opposition. Pretty much everyone got to do something. Some people did things they’ve rarely, if ever, done before. Batsmen took wickets, and will chirp about how it’s not so difficult. Yeah? Come and do it for eight overs into the wind at Claygate or Woking, against two guys who have already put on 65.

First plaudit went to tour organiser Rod, for an assembly at Gatwick that was late enough for an unhurried journey, yet early enough to neck a couple in the bar. Second plaudit went to tour debutant and kittybitch Peter Kurtz for blagging a couple of reserved tables in a crowded bar. But for him the best was yet to come.

Our hotel was the kid brother of the six-storey block lacking in much character or humanity that we had stayed in 10 years previously. Equally Saga-approved, this was less obvious since this time so were several of our tour party. A bunch of blokes in matching shirts were a curiosity at dinner. Later, we repaired to a nearby bar. Some drink was taken. Much bollocks was talked. Gossy continued to demonstrate that his amp goes up to 11, his opinions carrying on the evening wind and giving restless nights to local residents.


On Friday, golf was played by four from each hemisphere, so there was no debate about the make-up of the teams. On a challenging course in unfamiliar heat, some decent shots were played but we left a bucketful of balls in the trees and the water. Somehow the southern hemisphere claimed a narrow victory, largely on the back of corrupt handicapping and creative scoring. A splinter group of the injured and the indolent remained by the hotel pool, where far too much flesh was in evidence that should not have been bared. By no means was all of it Cryptic.

In the late afternoon all 11 played bowls, a brief glimpse of the Cryptic future, perhaps, before dinner in the island’s capital, Mahon. After a decent meal, a bottle of green stuff appeared. It is still a borderline call whether this was unprompted local hospitality or a subtle ploy from arch kitty-thief, Ware. It was filthy stuff.

Pitch at MCC

Saturday 22 September, 2012
Menorca CC 200 for 8 (40 overs)
Surrey Cryptics 202 for 3 (36.2 overs)
Surrey Cryptics won by 7 wickets
Surrey Cryptics won the toss

Menorca CC remains the most attractive ground we’ve played on outside the UK. And nicer than lots inside it as well. Their clubhouse has been extended, and is expertly managed by the Waughs, David and Carol. Can’t imagine why they left Newcastle behind for this.

Seeckts was tour skipper, looking to overturn the 2-0 deficit from 2002 with six survivors from that trip. He pouched one off Goss early doors, but after that the MCC made good progress, hitting powerfully and straight. We learned quickly that bowling short is not an option on this mat. Learned, yes. Implemented? Sometimes. It was the change bowlers that made impressions, typically in their first over. Tommy castled Osterbery (59 for 2), Scotty bowled Husain (104 for 3).
As Rod approached the wicket to begin a second spell, he pulled up gripping his calf like a veal crate. Replacement Cupit promptly picked up Barker LBW, and took a return catch from skipper Sturgeon, ending his gritty 45. 138 for 5. But Ian Sahu laid about him until bowled at the death by Scotty, his 46 setting us a real challenge on the unfamiliar surface.

Scotty's wicket

Our reply began inauspiciously, Pippa bowled for three by Hossan. He’s not quite as quick as some of his advance publicity, but 1 for 21 from 8 is testament to his effectiveness. James Hogben followed for 11, and we were only at 28 with a quarter of the overs gone. Scotty joined Dwight, and the two did little to accelerate, moving to just 65 at the half-way point.

DC batting

But from then the wind of change set in, and gradually they pulled the tiring opposition around the field, mixing the singles with boundaries. Oddly, many of Scotty’s singles came from the last ball of the over. With the match safe, his only challenge was to keep his partner off the strike long enough to reach his ton. On 94, with three needed for victory, he charged skipper Sturgeon, missed entirely, and was stumped by the proverbial country mile. He and DC had put on 171, threatening their own apparently unbreakable club record of 193. Ware tonked his first ball for four, and the job was half done. At the other end, Cupit was undefeated on 71. And tended not to let us forget it.

The post-match barbeque was hugely hospitable, and a rapturous Cryptic side boosted the bar takings. After an English summer of washouts and beatings, the win provided a tangible release which was celebrated into the small hours.

Sunday 23 September, 2012
Surrey Cryptics 246 for 6 (40 overs)
Menorca CC 189 all out (36.3 overs)
Surrey Cryptics won by 57 runs

By tradition, the side batting second on the first day gets to go first on Sunday. Tradition also dictates that those not batting on Saturday (of whom, thanks to Scotty and Dwight, there were legion) have the chance to bat the next day. And so it was that Cryptics opened up with Puppy and Peter Kurtz.

This unholy alliance gave us 94 runs. 15 overs in, Tom was caught for 49, but not before Peter had reprised a golfing shocker and unleashed a massive boomer straight into the watching crowd. Seeckts quickly followed, but Goss kept Peter company through to a popular and thoroughly deserved maiden Cryptic 50, after which, caution thrown to the wind, he was stumped for 58 in the 25th over. Gossy had scratched around early on, as a series of nine singles testifies, in contrast to partner Hope-Dunbar who had as many fours as singles before unleashing a trademark straight drive over the wall into the next field. But Gossy eventually blossomed, until departing for 39 of a 70-run partnership. Tommy fell later on 42, but we were well past 200 by then. Rod limped out to flail a quick dozen with a runner before we finished on 246. Head chef David Nuttall closed on 3 for 51, having apparently learned much from Jimmy on our last visit.

Rod took the opening over, bowling off two paces. Experienced observers noticed no real difference in his pace. Nor, indeed, in his effectiveness, as he picked up the first two wickets to fall, including the dangerous Sturgeon, press-ganged into action two days running. After a success each for Tommy and his brother-in-law, MCC stood at 128 for four. Fortunately this included Sunday skipper Simon Cotton, who is as keen on defensive batting as Puppy is on unrestricted immigration. A dynamite straight drive probably showed up on the air traffic control radar; certainly no-one bothered traipsing several fields away to look for it.

At this point the skipper felt safe in letting the more occasional bowlers turn their arms over. In true touring tradition, Peter Kurtz picked up his first Cryptic wickets with his fifth and sixth balls, both caught by keeper Ware. Much credit is due to both batsmen for walking instantly. A second over failed to produce the hat-trick, so he was cruelly taken off. Replacement James Hogben reprised his Oporto wicket, clean bowling Philip Wright. No, not that one, they had one as well.

The sting in the tail was provided by 13-year-old James Davies. Not content with being the most miserly of Menorca’s bowlers (5-1-18-0), he batted with confidence and maturity. The crowd waited with bated breath as he moved, with the occasional scare, to a well-earned 50. Goss, catching him a little later for 59, was roundly booed by the gallery. He didn’t care; it was his third catch of the day. Which went some way to compensating for some interesting ground fielding across the two days.

Seeckts, meanwhile, had been off the field relieving his swelling, having taken one on the wrist. The opposition spectators were particularly solicitous, and generous with both ice pack and refreshments – so, no pain, no gain. But, returning, he cleaned up the last of the Bangla boys, and our celebrations had no limit as we avenged our drubbing of 2002.

We jingled, again in the company of our generous hosts. We were also treated to the sight of James Davies’s gluteus maximus paint-balling bruise, which was demonstrated by his mother with an aplomb which would have her fail a CRB check in the UK.

after match

Our extant scorebooks show 77 opponents since 1990. There are very, very few with whom we would sooner take beer than this bunch of welcoming ex-pats. The state of the Spanish economy depletes their numbers, as ex-pats repatriate, but as long as they bring on the youngsters like James Davies – and the equally enthusiastic Archie and Jake who played in the Saturday game – they will continue to provide stiff opposition and lively company to like-minded tourists. But beware – games here are no holiday. These guys hit the ball very hard indeed!

After pizza near our hotel we were intending an early night, but the Lorelei call of the Dinky bar diverted us until the wee smalls again. Monday was a day for dossing around doing pretty much nothing, and then we were coming home to a breezy Gatwick with our honour restored, and livers in need of restoration.

Pen portraits of the touring squad, in Saturday batting order, follow.

Philip Wright
Came into the tour carrying a shoulder injury (no, really) which was essentially self-inflicted. However, typical Cryptic sympathy was extended the first time he attempted an overarm return to the keeper from in the deep. Yes, we shat ourselves sniggering. Not a prolific tour, but remains our leading run-scorer in foreign parts. One of only three international ever-presents.

James Hogben
Came into the tour carrying a shoulder injury (yes, really) but was never far enough from the bat to try a throw from the boundary. A few runs, and a second international wicket. Discovered there was always somewhere to make electronic contact with the office.

Dwight Cupit
Stormed into second place in the international run aggregates with a fine 71* in the first match. Did I mention that earlier? Will probably have to make hard choices between batting and bowling next season. And between cricket and golf. Admitted that it’s not the same thrill to come on tour with advance permission from your employer.

James Scott
His 94 is our top international score, eclipsing Macdonald’s 88 against Oporto in the dawn of the century. Averages over 50, as well. Did most of the running around in the outfield, as befits such a young man. And took three wickets. Dropped his flipper scuba diving and a sitter in the field.

Tom Ware
Typically enthusiastic tour performance, without ever quite wresting the kitty from its protector. Still sufficiently unconfident with foreign cuisine that he travels with his own mustard. Scored a fine near-50, and conceded a mere handful of byes on a concrete-based, lively mat. Best delivery was of excellent tour shirts and quality caps.

Peter Kurtz
Definitely top of the bill, man of the tour. Sunday will forever be a bore-the-grandchildren day, 50-up and two wickets in two balls. Straight in at #2 in both batting and bowling all-time tour averages. But his best performance was as kittybitch, with waiters, barmen and teammates effortlessly controlled.

Paul Goss
Less obtrusive on the field than off, nonetheless scored a fine 39, picked up a couple of particularly valuable wickets, and happily accepted a diminished bowling allocation in order to give others a chance. More comfortable fielding when the ball was in the air. Took over captaincy duties seamlessly when Seeckts went off for beer and sympathy.

Charles Hope-Dunbar
A typically ebullient knock on Sunday, bowled two fine spells of seam-up picking up three wickets in the process, and only passed up on one scoring opportunity all tour. Raised the level of the Mediterranean by a metre or so on the dive trip.

Richard Seeckts
Unobtrusively effective, as all (well, some) Cryptic captains are. Did what he needed to when it needed doing, but largely a selfless performance on behalf of the team. Fine (short) speech at the close of the second day was well-received by both teams.

Rod Edwards
Flawless performance as tour organiser was supplemented by his usual effectiveness with the ball. Unfortunate to damage his calf on day one, but didn’t let immobility on day two prevent him from a sound bowling stint (2-30), or from taking his eighth Cryptic catch in only 108 appearances.

Rod Edwards
Flawless performance as tour organiser was supplemented by his usual effectiveness with the ball. Unfortunate to damage his calf on day one, but didn’t let immobility on day two prevent him from a sound bowling stint (2-30), or from taking his eighth Cryptic catch in only 108 appearances.