This year saw the might of SUCC, plus a couple of tailor-made additions (read lurkers) take on our prestigious UK cousins Oxford University and Cambridge University.
Various methods were sourced by the tourists in order to arrive in the UK (some more successful than others), however in the end all was well and the tour began for the majority at the Mill Pub in Cambridge on the day before our first game.
Being a professional unit, rather than participate in a net session arranged by our Cambridge hosts, the touring party decided to focus on hydration (team leadership felt it was important to keep the fluids up following a long-haul flight to maximise performance on the morrow).
Some in fact chose to extend this doctrine into the evening and the early hours of the morning, which was in retrospect a bold strategy, which did not necessarily yield immediate results but certainly set us up for a successful tour. Suffice to say, the majority of the touring party were tucked up in bed dreaming of dominating the opposition before the sun came up at 5am…
Match 1 – SUCC 3/196 (Ryan Carters 84, Trevor-Jones Ben 37*, Chris Jones 37, Mark Faraday 27* Josh Ryan DNB) def Cambridge 194 (Harry Conway 3/15, ‘Clark Henry’ 3/41, Tom Kierath 2/15, Alex Keath 2/31, Josh Ryan 0/47)
The first fixture was held at Cambridge Uni’s picturesque Clare College Ground, and the SUCC boys arrived to beautiful sunshine and a hard and fast outfield which offered perfect Nash conditions. A hard fought tussle ensued, and the youngsters took first blood thanks to some lacklustre (i.e. absent) defending from the (now not so) well hydrated older players (especially your scribe).
Despite our strident encouragement, tour captain Mark ‘Cardinal’ Faraday had one of his rare failures on the tour, losing the toss which meant SUCC were forced to utilise their full contingent in the field rather than just a couple of batsmen. Nevertheless, lurkers Harry ‘Deacon’ Conway and Alex ‘Status: Fit - http://www.melbournestars.com.au/team/player-profiles/alexander-keat ’ Keath were truly fit and firing and soon had the opposition in a lot of trouble. The Deacon in particular was exceptional, and looked very comfortable in SUCC colours as he tore through the Cambridge top order. It should be noted that his form on the field was diametrically opposed to his lack of form in the evening; the Deacon still has a way to go to become a Cardinal.
With the opposition reeling, Captain Faraday threw the ball to some of his other bowling options, and due to some largesse from the tourists, a couple of dropped catches and some questionable bowling, Cambridge managed to put together a reasonable total for SUCC to chase. It would be remiss of me to understate my own contribution to this effort, ‘the worst over I have ever seen’ was heard many times during the remainder of the tour to describe my first over, which consisted primarily of a healthy bunch of gentle half-trackers and wides…
So 194 was the score to beat, and after a sumptuous repast in the pavilion, SUCC openers Ryan ‘Level 5 Vegan – doesn’t eat anything that casts a shadow’ Carters and Scott ‘Scoooooooooooooter’ Henry strode out to face what soon appeared to be quality fast bowling or gentle underarms, depending on who was on strike. Carts was sublime. Scooter, on the other hand, was facing a seeming nightmare set of 1980’s West Indian fast bowlers. After Scoot was “bumped out”, Chris ‘CJ’ Jones entered the arena and set about compiling a match winning partnership with Carters. Indeed the only blot on Carts’s copybook was that he decided not to overtake his highest score for SUCC (quite rightly fearing the financial ruin of fines that would have eventuated), and he kicked them over for a magnificent 84. Captain Faraday and Trevor-Jones Ben also chipped in at the end to get the points in the 27th over, with Benny taking 28 runs off the final over to finish it in style.
All-in-all a comprehensive result and this gave the boys a good opportunity to rehydrate post match with the opposition and then at some nearby local venues. It would not be proper to go into much detail of these events, suffice to say that:
- Faraday is now a Cardinal,
- Conway is not,
- Lola low’s is the place to be,
- Keathy is an excellent sober circuiter,
- Punting (i.e. with boats) is not ideal early the following morning
And so the touring party dispersed somewhat for the weekend, with a good time had by all at various UK locations, before joining up once again in Oxford.
Match 2 – SUCC 7/246 (Chris Jones 68*, Ryan Carters 57, Mark Faraday 54, Scott Henry 20, Josh Ryan 0) def by Oxford 5/247 (Paul McMahon 2/37, Ash Cowan 1/15, Clark Henry 1/29, Josh Ryan 0/57)
The pre match routine began slightly differently in Oxford, with many of the tourists taking in the sights of the splendid Oxford town in the sunny afternoon. Coach Gary ‘The Silver Fox’ Whitaker was particularly concerned for hydration levels amongst the group, and ensured that we were well watered as we toured the University town.
The full group then met up prior to dinner in jacket and tie at the Botley Cemetery to pay our respects to former SUCC 1st Grader Jack Ledgerwood who was a member of the RAAF and who was killed in World War II. Sombre scenes for the SUCC boys and it was a very humbling experience for us all to be there amongst the fallen heroes from the past.
On a much lighter note, from there it was on to dinner, and afterwards, the fact that Oxford also had a Lola low’s meant that the group was in fine spirits coming into the match, replicating the successful pre-match preparation routine from Cambridge…
The next morning, Cardinal Faraday did the right thing and it was pre-ordained that SUCC would bat first against an Oxford side that would provide much stiffer opposition than the first tour match. The opening partnership between Faraday and Scoot got the Units off to a solid start, however that was rapidly undone after the decision to allow some of the ‘all-rounders’ (or as Tom Kierath would call them, “nuffies”, including himself) in the squad time in the middle instead of Carters and Jones. A few quick wickets due to inauspicious strokeplay found SUCC scrambling and the boys were under pressure for the first time (at least on the field) in the UK.
Nevertheless, the well-rested pair of Carters and CJ met again in the middle late in the innings, and set about some sublime strokeplay. Carters in particular was ruthless, his reverse ramps serving once again to emphasise his class. . All in all a defendable total of 7/246 was set, with CJ top scoring with 68*, which began an amazing day for the great man, in what would turn out to be one of his finest ever displays in the SUCC ‘Blue and Glod’ (sic).
An entertaining afternoon in the field ensued, with the Oxford boys digging in with the bat and performing well to take the game down to the final overs. Despite some impressive bowling from Paul 'Vince’ McMahon, and Captain Faraday’s heroic decision to take the death overs upon himself to attempt to secure victory after two fast bowlers fell injured and your scribe’s hamstrings tightened sufficiently to render fielding an exercise better undertaken with the feet than the hands. Ultimately, it was Oxford who triumphed, scoring the winning runs in the final over.
Special mention must go to Josh ‘Reginald Ignatius’ Ryan who toiled hard throughout both games for the tour figures of 0 runs and 0/104 to go with a dropped catch off the Captain’s bowling that resulted in sore a very saw paw. While hilarious, these figures didn’t really do him justice. Still, you can’t argue with results…
The evening after the game turned out to be a splendid sit down dinner at a gentlemen’s club (not that kind). The Oxford boys really delivered a great experience and a thoroughly enjoyable night was had by all. As noted previously, specific details are not required when describing the festivities, but the key lessons that were learned were as follows:
- Pinky (5 shots of gin with grenadine and juice) > Shredder (5 shots of vodka, with lime and soda) >>>>>>> Perky (5 shots of vodka) is a formidable combination
- Multiple of the above yields problematic results
- Oxford’s “Captain Blackbeard”, while unable to dress to Reginald Ignatious’s taste, delivered an excellent circuit
- But as Rig would note, “the pot can’t boil the kettle black”.
- With a bit of guidance, Oxford Rig could really develop into something special
And so that brings the cricket tour to an end, an amazing experience and hopefully some positive on and off field relationships were forged so that SUCC can make this tour an ongoing event.
Many thanks to Paul McMahon for the invitation extended to your scribe and Cardinal Faraday to play in the Harlequins (Oxford Old Boys) v Quidnuncs (Cambridge Old Boys) match at the Lord’s Nursery after the main tour matches had been completed. What an unbelievable opportunity!