CtC depart on their 5th annual tour this week with a return to what many would regard as our spiritual home
on the Iberian Peninsula, home to the first of the ‘ modern tours’. Whilst we can only dream of
recreating that unique espirt du tour fuelled by by the vinho verde, compound mentality and
blazing sun of Portugal 2013, this year's touring squad does contain Ed Pearson and Hugh
Pemberton, on tour for the first time since, and six others from that trip in the shape of Cassels,
Davidson, Dean, Dillon, Gimson and Rudkin. Added to this strange mix are three players on
their second tour; Bagman who returns after (despite?) ‘ Tourfu’, and Shaw and Conway who
made excellent debuts last year Budapest. Once again it is with great pleasure I give a special
mention and gratitude to Messrs Dillon and Cassels for maintaining a 100% attendance record
on tour (and indeed all fixtures).
It’s hard to think that just 13 months ago we were off to Budapest as a club who had yet to
record a victory in red ball cricket. Two convincing wins in Budapest, including our first hundred
from Hesketh (who else?), seems however to have turned the tide. In red ball cricket in 2016 we
recorded an unbeaten season, beginning with a convincing five wicket victory vs. The Moose XI,
including a fifty for Hammond and five wickets for Davidson (the club’s first) and finishing with a
wash-out vs. The Eifion-Jones XI. Elsewhere our first foray into LMS was, although ultimately
frustrating, enjoyable and pretty successful with eight wins from 11 fixtures. Momentum (a
relevant/ireelevant factor in cricket depending on your standpoint) has been maintained in the
Whitechapel indoor league, which CtC sit at the top of with three wins from four fixtures. Our
strong year on the field has been more than matched off the field, with a club website, bat and
bank account all added to our (previously non-existent) assets.
I anticipate a step up in class, on and off field, against Levante CC in Valencia - Spain is a
relative cricketing hotbed, compared to Hungary at least, ranked 16th in Europe nine places
above our friends in Budapest. Levante themselves field two teams, with their first team
finishing third (from five) in their league in 2016. The bowlers in our party (Rory and Nat) will of
course be keen to learn that the last two winning scores batting first were 345 and 327 at the
‘VCG’. Rob Pickford looks to be the danger man with the bat with 458 at an average of 51 this
season whilst Bhavin Kahakad averages 137 from 3 appearances. Their highest wicket taker
this year is Nugnes with 10 at an average of 23. We play them in two fixtures, the first, a forty
over match on Friday and secondly a T20, excitingly under lights, on Sunday.
CtC have the look of a well-balanced and settled side, with perhaps one of the opening births
being the biggest question - or both pending a late fitness test for Ben Cassels. A sentence I
never thought I’d write is that we’re missing Ed ‘ The Cat’ Cassels, his absence leaving a chump
shaped role at the top of the order. Candidates to replace him include promoting wicket-keeper
Simon Shaw, asking one of the middle-order engine room to see off the new ball or perhaps
pressing in a bowler as emergency cover. Our bowling, is as ever thin on the ground, and will
rely heavily on just two ‘pace’ options in Gimson and Davidson, with the slow-trio of Pearson,
Conway and Dean completing the five frontline bowlers. What happens when Davo has
departed for the final game is anyone’s guess, but playing with ten (or finding ringers) is a
common adn often enjoyed facet of the club. Simon Shaw is our wicket-keeper.
Off the field Valencia promises much, not least a cricket ground central to the town, requested in
order to avoid a repeat of the minibus trip in which Cassels threw up a sausage into Rudkin’s
lap (this was in fact a stipulation of Rudkin touring).
I’ll finish with one personal concern is that there might be an element of ‘ holidaying’ creeping
into the ranks after so many went on the rebel ‘Cape Town not-a-tour-tour’ - make no mistake,
this is a tour.
A la càrrega!
Cambridge to Casablanca Cycling Cricket Club