SCCC tour to Oporto

3rd – 7th September 2009

Saturday 5th September
SCCC 171 for 8 dec
Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club 128 all out
SCCC won by 43 runs

Sunday 6th September
SCCC 187 for 8 dec
Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club 88 all out
SCCC won by 99 runs

Tour Report by Peter Andrew

Jingling down the Douro

Cryptics fifth official overseas tour saw us back in Portugal, land of Henry the Navigator, Felix the Hermit, Pope John XXI and that petulant kevballer that keeps falling over. Last time we went, we were depleted because Ross Greenwood didn’t appreciate that the subtleties of holding a convict passport meant he needed a visa to get in. We were nearly depleted this time because the skipper got on the wrong train at Clapham, and took the pink ‘n’ black flag to Brighton rather than Gatwick [how appropriate – Ed].

However, he recovered in time to meet the rest of us at Gatwick, where Jimmy and PAJ had arrived early so as to acclimatise with a few nice glasses of rosé. Nine of us boarded the TAP flight, Dwight coming late through having run out of holiday [didn’t stop him in Menorca – Ed], and James Hogben not arriving until Friday evening, the Ashurst Learjet having been double-booked. Both missed probably the worst airline meal on record. At Oporto the skipper’s travel day got better and better when it transpired that TAP had left his luggage at Gatwick.

The rest of us didn’t let it spoil our day, so we trekked off to the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club, checked into our rooms, and the usual garish tour kit was distributed. A jolly party convened down on the Ribeira, the restaurant-laden dockside under the magnificent Eiffel bridge, to announce that Cryptic boys were back in town. Rod had his first taste of life as Kutty Butch by trying to keep the money away from Puppy. The following morning we – well, all bar Scotty who was doing his usual tour impression of a thing that sleeps a lot – assembled for a breakfast of bacon and eggs, where a couple of Old Cranleighans insulted our hosts’ culinary competence by bringing their own provisions, Marmite (Seeckts) and mustard (Ware).

A visit to the Taylor’s port Lodge featured a tutored tasting, lunch, and the presentation of Cryptic jackets to veterans Wright and Greenhough. The afternoon was spent in haphazard practice on the newly-laid matting wicket, which gave confidence to the watching opposition, and occasional breaks to check up on the one-day international which, with the Ashes safely tucked up at HQ, was dismissed with disdain by the Brits in the party. In the evening we were treated to a late trip to a local restaurant and even later local nightlife by one of the opposition’s veterans who wasn’t going to be playing the next day. As if we’d fall for that old trick. Puppy made sure that even the Hobbits were in bed before 4:00am.

Saturday 5th September
SCCC 171 for 8 dec
Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club 128 all out
SCCC won by 43 runs

Not as easy as the statistics suggest looks. The ground is large, and the outfield very slow. The new strip is true, but offers good bounce, especially to anything from a height, irrespective of pace. We scored a single boundary in our first 70 runs, by which time the James Gang had gone for 6 between them (Hogben 6, Scott 0). The brisk left-arm opener Rajani, son of a Kenyan international, conceded 17 in his first eight overs. When Pippa departed for 34, we were 83 for 4 in the 24th over. Even the aggressive Hope-Dunbar took 13 balls to get off the mark, and had to suffer through lunch without having opened his account. Not that Tommy suffers much when there’s port around, and much of it seemed to gravitate effortlessly into his reach. And throat.

After lunch, Tommy and Goss – by now reunited with clothes and deodorant – moved us along, the big man finally falling for 35 or 37, depending on whose scorebook you want to use. Either way, he was eclipsed by extras which top-scored with 41. Gossy declared on 171, after we had received 49 overs. Everyone got some (including Seeckts, 17, and Cupit, 16), except Scotty who just got stick. On a faster outfield, this would have approached 200; at Claygate, think 230.

Oporto’s response suggested that they knew that aerial was the way to go. At 8 for 4 after five overs, two each for Rod and Gossy, it seemed a dodgy strategy. Shopping moved upmarket with the introduction of roomies Jimmy and PAJ, and they took the next four, including Jimmy’s regulation stumping. Our catching was pretty good, Scotty taking two and Seeckts one that was unusually distant from the sticks. Tension had increased as the last 20 arrived with Oporto on 78 for 7, and Goss picked up his third with around ten overs remaining. Various tactics were then tried to winkle out the last wicket, including the devious Scottish one of not bowling at the stumps. However, tradition returned for the final over as Rod returned, bowling from the long shadows at the tennis court end. After five dots and a rather fortuitous wide at the limpet-like Rogerson, the last ball of the match struck him square on the pads. A big shout, and a reluctant but honest finger from Oporto’s non-playing umpire gave us victory in the 45th over.

In the evening we were hosted to dinner in the Club by our opposition. A convivial evening was highlighted by a poignant rendition of traditional folk song in Jimmy’s inimitable style.

Sunday 6th September
SCCC 187 for 8 dec
Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club 88 all out
SCCC won by 99 runs

Our pre-match warm-up consisted of a dip in the pool. As Scotty and Pup bobbed about at the water’s edge, Pippa strolled past. ‘Oh look, there’s a duck in the water!’ How we laughed.

Tour tradition has it that not out batsmen from the first day open on the second. Thus with Jimmy and PAJ opening, followed by Rod at one-drop and then by those out of form on the Saturday, one would expect the run rate to be rather slower on Sunday. Yeah, right. See the chart. The ‘tail’ didn’t leave the middle until the 16th over. This batting stuff isn’t as challenging as people like RGA used to make out.

All the top order made it to double figures, Jimmy particularly redoubtable and facing 40 deliveries before succumbing to the pacy Kamran. ‘What are they doing with a Scotsman in their side?’ queried one of our less observant members. [Think about it – Ed]. We all needed to be observant as Puppy cut to backward point for 10, and left the field scattering his kit like confetti as playthings were distanced from perambulator.

Scotty was clearly intent on compensating for the previous day, and anchored our innings with a key knock of 43. Pippa has never been out batting at 7 for the Cryptics, and continued the trend with an undefeated 34, including a 67-run partnership with Scotty. We all achieved double figures except the unfortunate Hogben, who copied Pup’s cut with the same result. Useful contributions again from Cupit (16) and Seeckts (16*). Extras kicked in a mere 29 this time, and Gossy pulled the rug at 187 after – again – 49 overs. In the spirit of the tour, Oporto had used eight bowlers.

We returned the favour, Hope-Dunbar and Ware taking the new ball. Oporto were a little more circumspect than on Saturday, losing a single wicket in the first 15 overs. Tommy bowled a fine 8-over stint to take 1 for 11; a series of indistinguishable slow stuff followed at the other end where Cupit was succeeded by Hogben’s debut spell with the ball, a smeared catch to Goss at mid-wicket giving him the first first-class wicket in his family. This led on to Seeckts and finally maestro Greenhough.

At the other end PAJ’s figures were helped by a remarkable full-length sideways-diving catch by Tommy at backward square leg, whose return to earth measured 5.2 on the Richter scale and cause a small tsunami off Madeira. PAJ passed on the favour by holding a screamer at mid-wicket as the potentially dangerous Rajani collared Jimmy off his first ball. Run outs courtesy Scott and Wright helped us to take the right wickets at the right time, and Oporto were struggling at 76 for 8 when the real openers came on. Gossy picked up three maidens in five overs while bowling Mopsy, and three balls into Rod’s only over Cottentail perished similarly. We were a bit too good for the opposition on this day, and they closed on 88.

It remained only to help the opposition to drown their sorrows, ship another skin full of excellent value port (be rude not to, we reasoned) and spend Monday lazing by the pool. Dwight and Rod left early on Monday for various reasons. We suspected a club coup when the rest of us were treated to a very late ‘go-around’ from Air Traffic Control as we crossed the Heathrow threshold. The suggestion was that a stocky Aussie had released a Labrador puppy onto the runway in expectation of taking over the captaincy next year after the resulting carnage, looking to improve a record of ‘led 1 drawn 1’, but we made it down safely second time round.

Player by Player Guide

Celebrated his wedding anniversary with a change of underwear after two days without luggage. The only concern was that the club flag was in his lost bag. Captained the side selflessly and completely inverted the Benaud theory that captaincy is 90% skill and 10% luck by almost reversing the batting order and using the joke bowlers in the more convincing of two wins. Took his first overseas wickets on his third Cryptic tour and made the same thank you speech four times with ever increasing panache.

When parted from the scorebook, felt most at home port tasting at Taylor’s until informed that the expensive bottle he has kept since the 2000 tour should have been consumed long ago and is probably now horrible. Found increasingly imaginative ways of buying wickets of batsmen happy to give them away for nothing. Enjoyed opening the batting, which left its mark on him, the gold medal winning bruise of the tour on his ribs.

Tour organiser who arrived late and departed early, thus missing the near death experience at Heathrow for nine other ‘Cupit Babes’, whose loss would have made him club supremo. Suspicious? You bet. Batted with rare determination twice, age having caught up with his bowling and overtaken his wicket-keeping. Utterly failed to convince anyone that a baby, no garden and a labrador puppy is a perfect combination.

Tour virgin slipped comfortably into the vacant Kittybitch role, extorting funds at Gatwick in a manner betraying his relish for the job. Continued to manage the budget with aplomb throughout, leaving only one unpaid tab at the club when taking the early flight home. Bowled brilliantly on Saturday to reach 98 career wickets, so was rewarded by not getting a bowl on Sunday until Oporto were nine wickets down. And taking his 99th. Ran himself out and returned to the pavilion without a hint of a Cryptic tantrum. Disappointing.

Thrilled to be awarded his pink and black club jacket at Taylor’s, not least because it makes him look like Mr Incredible. Rediscovered his touring form after a seven year gap with a fair rendition of The Lion and Albert and some enchanting song. An ignominious start in the field – dropping a sitter in the first over – was followed by more respectable shopping with the ball and Sunday’s crowd pulling masterclass in opening the batting. Perused wine lists to the satisfaction of all present.

Portugal is a tough place to tour for vegetarians, so he survived on a substantially liquid diet, without complaint. Probably the only man to get more sleep on tour than at home, Hoggers’ runs came at a hefty premium but he entered the records by taking his first wicket in his 102nd game, just nine years after Natasha took her first Cryptic wicket in a beer match.

Tommy H-D
The only non beer drinker on tour coped admirably on several varieties of grape, considering it essential medicine while rooming with Scotty, a snorer par excellence. Bowled utter dross when brought on to break the tenth wicket partnership on Saturday and was rewarded with a long, and much better, spell on Sunday. Provided the champagne moment on the field with a splendid acrobatic catch, and capped a good season with the bat with one decent knock followed by relegation to the (unemployed) tail.

Best player on tour padded up to a straight one on nought prompting 24 hours of merciless ribaldry from teammates. The tension before his second innings was immense, and not relieved by his first ‘run’ being a leg-bye. Took the flak in good humour and responded by top scoring on Sunday. Pouched a couple of decent catches but bowled the widest wide of the weekend, missing the artificial pitch by 18 inches. Exercised great self discipline to avoid using his catchphrase, ‘to be fair’ which was caught and flogged to death by roomy Tommy.

Presentation speech for the two jackets dried up due to illegible notes etched in the small hours. One decent catch and a couple of much maligned refusals were complimented by two innings of scoring almost exclusively in the V between third man and fine leg. Spent the over before a declaration ducking bouncers after mischievously suggesting over lunch that the bowler was a chucker. Got wedged on the kids’ slide into the swimming pool.

Supplied interesting pink tour kit and, as ever, tried to embrace all aspects of local culture. Official tour photographer lost his camera on Friday afternoon (“Of course it’s not in my bag, I’m not that stupid”), only to find it in his bag on Monday, hence the lack of cricket pictures. Batting suffered due to over excitement but kept wicket well except when the dolly catch went straight up in the air. He called, went dizzy, and completely fluffed it. Opened the Sunday bowling while Rod briefly wore the gloves. ‘Nuf said.

So chuffed with his pink and black jacket, he barely took it off. Anchored both innings well with 34 each time, the second from number 7. Strangely quiet when the skipper suggested he’d make a good regular number 7. Refused to bowl on Sunday due to undisguised opinion that games should be won clinically without taking the apparent risks incurred by ‘festival’ captaincy. Completed a tour without injury.