Tour to Oporto
25-29 September 2022
Saturday 27 September 2022
SCCC 152-9 (52 overs)
Oporto 154-2 (33.2 overs)
Oporto won by 8 wickets
SCCC won the toss
Tour report by Peter Andrew:
Hardly more than 8,000 days after the departure of the first Cryptics international tour during the last knockings of the last century, Cryptics again assembled at Gatwick, again bound for Oporto. At least all 12 got to Portugal, there being no Australian visa mishaps this time. There were three survivors from the 2000 tour, as well as three freshers whose combined ages were less than PAJ’s.
A group that had relied on the train arrived first, and drink was taken at the Sheepsnoggers bar. Traffic issues on the A30-something delayed the rustics for a while. Drink was taken. Last up were the contents of the Pupmobile, delayed by a recalcitrant valet parker, who presumably needed lessons in cap-doffing and forelock-tugging. Drink was…. [yeah, yeah. Rinse, spin, repeat. We get it. Move on. Ed]
An uneventful flight led to a renewed acquaintance with the Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club. An inspection of the wicket reminded us how big the ground is, and how slow the outfield was likely to be. A brief spell in a damp net taught us nothing.
Dinner, pre-booked from London by joint kittybitch DJ Grindrod, was interesting. The restaurant owner, presumably never having had a booking for 12, had commandeered three parking spaces in the road outside his premises, and filled them with tables and chairs. Passing traffic succeeded in missing us, without feeling a need to slow down. Those choosing the house speciality were rewarded with meat of uncertain origin, heavily garnished with last month’s potato chips. Hugh took ownership of the wine list, which afforded high levels of compensation.
A brief post-prandial stroll brought us miraculously to another bar, where Gossy and PAJ spent a couple of hours setting the world to rights, while ignoring the rest of the party who were steadily taking on enough gin to float a small aircraft carrier. In keeping with tour tradition, sometime in the smallish hours the party fragmented, some returning to the Club for a nightcap, others going in search of a medium-sized aircraft carrier.
Friday on tour is ‘acclimatisation’ day. Being creatures of habit, we went for a tour of Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman’s port lodge, where our charming lady host told us the same things we had been told on two previous visits. Her failed attempts to elicit questions from us were entirely foiled by our previously acquired knowledge of her company, and had absolutely nothing to do with the gin from the night before.
Most of us nevertheless managed to do justice to the flight of tasting ports that closed the visit, although certain of the novices were more interested in trying for our host’s phone number. After lunch, Daddy G failed to buy a baby in the market, and we repaired to the Club for a net on the match wicket. Dinner at the glorious World of Wine began with an off-message Gossy spontaneously requesting 12 large beers before order was restored by Hugh with the wine list. The evening finished with several rounds of ‘name that cricketer’, based on obscure clues provided by an app on Ed’s phone. The game was made more difficult for younger tourists since most of the subjects had retired while Rapunzel was still a skinhead.
And so to Saturday, the first match day. Our accommodating opposition were happy to receive suggestions on the match format, so skipper Seeckts The Elder naturally elected for a declaration game. 11:00am start, so lots of time to build an innings. We spent seven overs learning how the matting wicket played while accumulating 17 runs, and two overs more getting to 18 while saying bye-bye to Jimmy and Keith. And to Toby in the 15th , with us having advanced to 27.
Enter the skipper. Gritty partnerships with Hugh and Scotty got us to 81, we lost Goss just before the hundred came up, and Puppy just afterwards. 100-7 from 40. Skipper finally succumbed for 27, after 35 overs at the crease. Ed then watched as Dad took 12 off his first four balls and then gave the bowler a return catch off his fifth. We watched Stu take an uncharacteristic single from his second ball, and then Richard called a halt with us having crept past 150. Ed matched the skipper with an undefeated 27, but both were outscored by Extras, which ended on 32, largely in wides.
Family Grindrod monopolised the early part of Oporto’s response, catches for each of the boys off Dad pegging the opposition to 31 from the first 10 overs. Unfortunately this brought together a couple of experienced Oporto batsmen who, well-versed in the vagaries of the pitch, motored along at a steady four-per-over to the start of the last 20. At this point 72 were still needed, but having decked a few chances we needed some serious slices of luck to turn it around. Instead, the opposition moved through the gears, and just eleven overs later we were done and dusted for an eight-wicket defeat. It took them 19 fewer overs than the 52 we had used in setting them the target.
Sorrows were drowned in the club bar, as we were generously entertained by our hosts to a formal dinner. The after-dinner conversation on the club terrace ranged far and wide, including esoteric suggestions for the next tour venue, and whether to go out and find another aircraft carrier.
Sunday dawned fresh, and we assembled for another early start, relieved to discover that neither of the previous day’s nemeses was playing two in a row. Consensus was reached on a 40-over match, at which point Richard considered the job done, and turned the captaincy over to Gossy, who took the new ball with David.
Six overs later he took the first wicket, juggled then held by Scottie at square leg. The Grinders thing was still working, the second wicket ct. E b. D, with the score still on 12. This being a tour match, Keith came on at first change, bowled an over then got rested, Hugh bowled an over, got rested, then Toby had a couple. All the while, David wheeled in at the other end until he’d bowled his allowance. Oporto 47-2 from 16.
A double change brought three wickets in two overs, one for Jimmy G and two in two balls for Stu, including the only clean bowled we managed all tour. At 58 for 5 with half the overs gone, you’d have thought we had cause for complacency. Oporto had other ideas. Ten overs and 70 runs later, we weren’t so smug. Fortunately, after another three overs and 26 runs, the local ‘retire at fifty on Sunday’ rule kicked in. Even more fortunately, after another three overs and 24 runs, it kicked in again, so it was left to Scottie to feast on a fresh pair of rabbits who both holed out to Hugh, bringing him a jug’s worth of catches for the day. A run out midway through the last over closed the innings on 199, neither of the retired batsmen being bothered to pad up to face the last two balls.
For tactical purposes, Keith opened with Stu. Both returned within a dozen overs, but we had 45 on the board. The youthful athleticism of Jimmy G and Toby took us to 83 at halfway, before each perished for 28 as we broke the hundred mark, two overs earlier than the opposition.
Ed then spent time watching Scottie bat before making way for Hugh who did likewise. Scottie, seeking a measure of personal redemption, scored 66 of the last 101 runs we made, including three sixes and total disregard for any ‘retirement’ rule. We jingled with an over to spare, five wickets down. Victory was celebrated in the usual manner. We dined in a local restaurant, deemed below the standards that some of the party are used to.
Our stay at the Club was as pleasant as always, food and drink was delightful and abundant, the staff were tolerant and accommodating in the face of extensive demands (and showed no surprise or resentment when Seeckts (R) and Ware produced their own condiments), our hosts were charming and proper cricketers.
An early return flight on Monday was uneventful, except that two of us got COVID.
Dramatis Personae (cast in order of appearances)
Richard Seeckts: Tour captain. 27 in sole innings when all the real batsmen failed, avoided bowling and mostly hid at slip. Set two all-time touring records: 43 for 5th wicket with Scott, 33 for 8th wicket with Grindrod (E). Controversially banned late night trips to town on Friday night, only to lead the lock-in at the club. Foolishly let Scottie have his room key for five disastrous minutes. Supplier of Marmite.
Peter Andrew: Father of the Tour and Keeper of the Book. Co-pedant. Fastidious as ever and so protective of the scorebook that he declined the offer of taking the field to bowl a few overs in what might have been his testimonial match. An oasis for those who needed interludes of grown up conversation. Music trivia go-to reference.
David Grindrod: Leading wicket-taker on tour (with three, conceding 59 from 16.2 overs). Faced four balls, scored 12. Co-kittybitch, gold star for efficient use of technology and innovation. No previous tours have featured dinner in parking bays or what passed for a motorway service station. Wore a MAGA hat more than most (see son James, below).
Paul Goss: 1-78 from 17 overs. Whatever happened there? Five runs from sole innings. Missed a golden opportunity to rescue Saturday’s batting collapse, perhaps it came too soon after a fine lunch. Skippered on Sunday with aplomb, masterminding the touring tradition of sharing out the bowling and batting, with mixed results. With Oporto 53-5 off 19, he mooted letting them get to 120, “plenty for us to chase”. See scorecard. Ebullient throughout.
Tom Ware: Four runs from sole innings, definitely prefers grass tracks. Kept wicket brilliantly in both matches, shared a run out and conceded no byes. Introduced two unwelcome ‘Make America Great Again’ hats on night one, to be re-awarded by those compelled to wear them at regular intervals but worn by someone all the time. Counter-intuitively, this had the effect of strangers thinking that 10 of us were good blokes at any one time, the other two getting the evil stares. Supplier of Colman’s mustard.
James Scott: 81 and once out in two innings, to become the leading Cryptic run-scorer across all tours. 2-39 from 8.4 overs. Two catches. Handy chap to have for the cricket but a liability off the field. Ferocious snoring and incessant communication with family (they are on the A303 now etc) filled the brief spells when he wasn’t up to mischief, but performs a (well rehearsed?) act of penance and still wins us matches.
Keith Taylor: 20 runs in two completed innings. 0-15 from two overs, in two spells. Reluctantly opened both days, what with being season’s top scorer. Cricket highlight was his first over (bowling), a tidy six baller with a dropped catch. Lowlight his second over, an agonising nine-baller. Remarkable impression of Devon Loch at long on when “my body was moving faster than my legs”. Looked and behaved like he owned the place at Taylor’s Port lodge, otherwise a sage avuncular presence for the young.
Hugh Greenway: 26 out once in two innings. Contributed 14 to unbroken match winning partnership of 76 with Scott setting new record for 6th wicket on tour. One over for 12. Three catches. Peaked on night one after finding himself in the wrong taxi and coped with the noisiest room mate. Attended the formal dinner in shorts, presumably assuming it was a Zoom event. Co-Pedant. Master sommelier and linguistic wizard.
Stu Henniker-Smith: (Stunningly good) Tour Organiser, all the more so once he dispensed with the tolerant and democratic mindset. 18 runs from two innings, out once when being not out overnight ensured he opened on Sunday, as is tradition. Now averages 23 as opener, 8 in all other batting positions. 2-49 from 10 overs. Extra plaudits for waking early to perform 12 online check-ins on a phone 24 hours before departure.
Toby Seeckts: 32 from two innings. Two overs for 10. Took to touring like he’d heard a few tour tales of yore. Survived all challenges virgin tourists can expect and entertained spectators on the terrace during extended periods fielding on the boundary – what happens to those with a good arm. Brave enough to take on the town and share a room with two Grindrods (different combinations).
Ed Grindrod: 37 from two innings, out once. 0-68 from 12 overs. Two catches. Provided vital respectability with the bat on Saturday, coming in at 104-7, harshly treated with the ball but fielded wonderfully including a blinding catch. No difficulty in playing on Sunday despite being considerably more ‘weary’ than when dipping out of Follies on grounds of anticipated fatigue.
James Grindrod: 36 in two completed innings. 1-18 from four overs. One excellent catch, one run out among a tigerish performance in the field. Co-kittybitch, gold star for efficient use of technology. Bean bag bomber. Became the go-to forthright orator when re-allocating MAGA hats, frequently to his long suffering dad. Organiser of street furniture.
Ricky Pointing: Our quacking duck in full Cricket Australia kit with baggy green cap, unrelated to the diminutive, fowl (geddit?) mouthed Tasmanian best remembered as the only Australian skipper to lose the Ashes three times. Ricky arrived on tour in the tender care of Daddy G, the most recent Cryptic out for a blob. Having his own seat on the plane, he compliantly wore a mask, unlike the other Aussie, and strapped himself in. Against all odds, the gobby little chap had a quiet trip, there being no Gary Pratt, no nightclub called Bourbon and Beefsteak in Oporto and, astonishingly, no Cryptic dismissed for nought on tour. Grinders retains, something Ricky never did.