CtC ended an unprecedented year of travel with a defeat in Sri Lanka against Vidyaloka College in what was a first non-touring overseas fixture for the club (this, in the unlikely events anyone is interested, was because it lacked any of the other trappings of tour such as court or roles, and rather than being an organised tour was more a group of independent travelling clubm’n and associates assembling in Sri Lanka).
The XI independent travellers compromised club members Dean, Davidson, Dillon, Shaw, Fairbank and Skinner (Rudkin senior remained unavailable due to injury, Cassels senior pulled out, presumably due to dating clashes, and Pemberton, for once, resisted goading and didn’t travel). In addition we were joined by three lads from Dulwich (Ben, AJ and Quaife), a mate of Simon’s, George Delemain, and the Philanderers’ Paul Leary. With very limited knowledge of our own team, and less of the opposition it was hard to know how the game would go...
A note first on the setting, a delightful ground, surrounded on three sides by thick jungle vegetation, and a striking rock on the midwicket boundary from at the pavilion end. The ground is officially named Lords’ Hikaduwa as it was funded by the MCC in the wake of the 2004 tsunami and also featured wicket that had been rolled to within an inch of its life, an electronic scoreboard and a pavilion complex complete with indoor nets.
After many, many hours of debate over what to do first, Dean lost the toss and CtC were put into the field on a pretty stinking fucking hot day (side note, as we limbered up Mike Gatting ambled over to inspect the facilities on behalf of the MCC and wished us luck). The Lankan batsmen came out, sadly not in their sparkling blue uniforms, but I was pretty aroused anyway. Davidson bowled the first over, and immediately had a big lbw shout turned down. Undoubtably the Sri Lankan schoolboys were roughed up by a global businessmen steaming in, and sure enough there was a mixup with the batsmen, one opener desperate to be off strike was sent back halfway down the pitch, with the ball already in the fielders hand. Sadly the fielder in question was Dean, whose pathetically weak and inaccurate arm proved to be nowhere near up to the relatively easy chance.
Quaife bowled the second over for 5 and CtC were on top. Davidson, sensing the fear in the opposition batsmen went for the jugular, and dug a couple of vicious looping bouncers which were deposited to the fence. Quaife however got a nice caught and bowled in his second over to leave the score at 30-1 after four overs.
The middle overs progressed with neither side getting on top. Fairbank bowled four on the bounce in the heat, with figures of 0-31 not really doing him justice. AJ similarly threatened but couldn’t make the breakthrough, though would’ve done had Dean held a simple chance, and Ben bowled two tight overs for 11.
After thirteen overs things looked ominous with the score 113-1 but Quaife returned to get the accelerating opener for a classy 60. AJ got the number three and suddenly 117-3 after fifteen overs looked much better for the cycling cricketers.
However a combination of a couple of “old boys” trying to hit every single ball for 6 and trademark terrible over from Dean which cost 16 swung momentum back towards the Sri Lankan’s. Once again CtC fought back and Davidson and Quaife bowled excellent final overs, Davidson taking one wicket and Quaife another two to finish with superb figures of 3-22 from four overs. The final total was an imposing but chaseable 167.
Skinner and Leary started in watchful style. The first over a maiden, they then scored exclusively in singles until the 30th ball of the innings, which Leary hit for 6. Skinner was the first to go, bowled for 11 (all in singles), in his defence he had little chance to defend the ball given his bat was sailing towards the square leg umpire at the moment the ball hit the stumps. Dillon joined Leary but sadly another mixup with the basemen, combined with some sharp fielding, which was to be a feature of the innings, ran him out for just 2.
Ben Lester (3) and George Delemain (2) failed to get going, but this didn’t deter Leary, who started to play some truly stunning shots. He hit seven sixes in an arc from wide long on to extra cover, each with a lazy swing of the bat. Suddenly CtC had hope. He hit the first three balls of the eleventh over for 6, and the fourth for 2, taking him to 54 out of the total of 80. Sadly he was out, stumped, next ball.
A.J. did his best with 31 but had no one to stay with him, Shaw run out and Davidson bowled both for ducks. Fairbank made 12 including a nice straight six but he game was up, CtC all out for 133, a loss by 34 runs.
As so often with T20 it was a case of should’ve, would’ve, could’ve... we bowled well with probably just two big overs costing us. Certainly they outperformed is in the field, where they were very strong, and perhaps because they were more used to playing in oppressive heat. With the bat we probably just needed one other player to go with Leary... but all in all the better side won.
So finally CtC’s epic ten month season came to an end in fine surrounds, albeit in defeat. Vidyaloka college were great hosts and it was hugely satisfying for CtC to sample another continent. When the cycling cricketers return to the sub-continent will now be in the hand of the future tours programme, who were rumoured to be booking flights to the next destination in September 2019, within days of the 2018 season ending.
Cambridge to Casablanca Cycling Cricket Club