Stone CC Tour 2018

Apologies to all for the late delivery of the Cambridge Report but Harry and Megan insisted that we attend some after wedding nonsense that went on for a while. So, as we bask in the delights of a French white wine on the Cote de Provence I will tell you all of some of the things that went on. There may be recounts of cricket matches included too.

A lot of what went on will not make sense to anyone who was not there. To be clear, a fair amount of what went on, at various times, didn’t make sense to us that were there but to find out what that is like, make yourself available for SAT 131 next year.

The main part of what we were all there for started early on Friday afternoon with several of the squad perched in the nearest pub to the hotel by 3pm. (after an hour in the premier inn bar where they clearly rinse the beer pipes out with drain fluid) I use the word “pub” in the loosest term as this one made The Fulwich look comforting and cosy. Still, they sold the requisite beers and ciders we needed and we were off. Vice and Matty G take an early lead in the drinking having got a good start on the train on the way up. Colombo (Mick Garratt, who will go through a name change later), Skip, ‘Olden arm and Hangover Stevens are close behind. Dino and Semtex soon join and all the fun of the fair is beginning.

Saddam joins the race late on but carries the flagging young crowd to the end. A 4 a.m return to the hotel saw the first SB of the Day event. Our Technical Director, perhaps dreaming of days gone by when such actions were the standard procedure, “cheekily” slaps Vice’s “friend” on the arse as a form of goodbye. He may have been suffering from some sort of concussion as he did manage to fall off the bed a few seconds earlier in an attempt to lay down gracefuly.

Tales of woe and glory are shared the next morning in Franky and Bennies (shouldn’t that read Francis and Benjamin’s?) as fuel is taken on board in preparation for the first game. More fuel is had at the hotel bar (bottled booze only) and we leave at 12.30 all fit and ready to play.

Fixture Secretary Saddam has not only booked the team but a marvellous ground with proper bar so well done to him for that. (The tea debacle will be mentioned later). We lose the toss and bat in a 30 over game Saddam and skip open up and stroll to 52 from 10 overs or so before skip falls to a poor shot. (again)

Saddam carries on and looks untroubled right up until he is bowled for 30 but we are ticking along against mixed bowling. Dino races to 19 and Matty G hits an elegant 33. Semtex, explosive in everything else, is blown up in running between the wickets and departs for 1. Vice continues good batting form and wallops 29, including Stone’s first 6 of the season, as he so easily predicted and won a fiver from Skip. (Gracefully paid for in coins, eventually.) We close on 164/7 and are pretty happy with our total.

TEA. Bad, very bad. Some did not even eat and preferred to get stitched up at the cake sale at the local scout group just next door to us. Saddam gets the blame. Unreasonable. Unfair and unjust but we needed a culprit.

So, on to the next innings and we start with confidence and enthusiasm and some very tight bowling. Apart from the first ball that is. We set a field to showcase the skills of our bowler and player of the year. 4 slips. 2 Gullys. A half volley is delivered and banged back for 2. Normal field resumes.  Scrappy 0/18 from 5 and Ruggy 1/9 from his first spell of 4 overs. Little Shelford hang in and start to score a bit. Next wicket falls on 42 and they are comfortably behind. 52/3 and we are running away with it. LS had other ideas as a young lad (1 of 2 junior county players) shows excellent technique and skill and takes the game to us ably supported by one of the openers. Things are looking tight when Dino is introduced. He finally delivers for Stone and pulls the game right back by taking 4/23 from 5 overs. I wont bother with the story of the ridiculous umpire. We’re on tour and don’t need that sort of “poor cricket” attitude to bring us down. The ending is nigh as the oppo have no real bats left and we win by 30 odd runs. We fielded pretty well, one chance put down and bowled very well as a unit. Hangover 1/18 from 3 overs. Vice 1/19 from 5 and Matty G 0/26 from 5.

We camp in the outfield for an hour or 2 and regale stories of how great we all are (always easy after a win) and delight in the cheap beers from their marvellous bar. (“Can’t we just stay here all night?” asks Semtex) Columbo, having given us a rousing and inspiring team talk “score more runs than them. Take more wickets than them and catch everything) supports us all day and takes on an interesting change of hue to his skin. Colombo becomes Colonel Lobster. ‘Olden arm has entertained their scorer all day with his relaxed attitude to keeping up with the scoring but somehow it all matches.

For this day the SB is Saddam. We really could not forgive him for having nothing to do with the grotty tea they dished up. At least it was free but some felt we should charge them for us having to eat it.

First tour performance of the day goes to Dino. Getting a trophy every week that boy.

Taxis back to the hotel for most. Naturally our Skipper, who hasn’t done much all day, gets the only lift available for free. Meet in the hotel bar (why?) and disperse to local pub. Fairly predictably the young crowd, chaperoned or misguided by TD and Saddam, depart for fast food, fast women and open bars until the crack of dawn. Older men have a few beers, a Turkish sit down kebab (this confuses the youngsters as they don’t know how it works like that) and retire back to the hotel where Semtex threatens to blow the whole hotel up as the bloody bar is shut. It may be crappy but he was thirsty.

I wake up to find half a pizza in my room and Hangover sprawled, thankfully semi dressed, and in his own bed. Francis and Benjamin’s was visited by most of the tour group at some stage. Candy Man Miller being the brightest of all despite being one of the latest of all back to the hotel. There were some rumours of doing certain damage to certain parts of our vice Captain due to his early departure but thankfully none of this was carried out. Stumpy is an early withdrawal for the day with a sore toe which makes our day a bit complicated. Our skipper, being our only other ‘keeper, had been trying to wince out of the second game since the tour was booked, but now looked like he would have to play. Still, we could ask for volunteers………

TD has 2 breakfasts as he joined the older group early and stayed on for the younger group later. We meet at the bar for a livener and depart for a local, and famous ground, in the centre of Cambridge. Parker’s Piece is steeped in history, most of it to do with Jack Hobbs, and we are privileged to play here. Well done Saddam for this fixture.

Walkie Talkie, on his 16th birthday has dragged his mum Michelle up from Dartford to make us a squad of 13. Well, late nights out for many surely we can find volunteers to join the 10 men oppo and be ‘keeper for the day so our lightweight of a skipper can step down? Nope. Double 0 Dino and Semtex stand up for it and are re-buffed by the Vice (skipper for the day) as they are always first. So. ‘Skip wearily ‘keeps and Hangover Stevens kindly steps up to play for the oppo’. (Saddam and Ruggy carefully fix it so one bats and the other bowls)

We bat in a timed game and from the off we can see that this is probably the friendliest bowling attack we are ever likely to face. (one bloke couldn’t run, one was 93, one girl who can’t have been more than 15 and not really a cricketer). The pitch, as we had been warned was a great leveller and make us sentimental for the old Stone pitch. Walkie has the privilege of opening the innings and proudly strides out to take the first ball. He uppishly bunts a 2 and is off and running. 2 balls later he is striding back to the pavilion caught in the slips off the bowling of Hangover Stevens who opened up for them. Scrappy and Saddam carry on the fight against the slowest of and weakest of bowlers but struggle to put any pace on the ball but get us to 34 before the leader falls again. This time for a scratcy 12 and Hangover takes the catch. (Should we re-think our donation of players policy?) Still, it’s a big field (with an abundance of male and female talent strewn around the boundary) and surely someone is going to get a big score? Semtex hangs around, in great support of Scrappy, proving that his technique can even out a dodgy pitch and nurdles to 8 before falling. Support fails after that, Leo goes for 1, a grumpy ‘skip for 0, despite several air shots, and in-between we lost, what would turn out to be our top scorer, Scrappy for 30. Vice looked in good touch before he is bowled by their best bowler for 13, TD also looked the part before he is caught in the deep for 14. “Hot wheels” Edmunds (friend of vice) nearly kills TD with an all run 4 but is out for 5 and Candy Man a very grumpy LBW (he had a point it was missing off and leg and only just clipping middle half way up) for 2 leaves Double 0 on exactly that, 0 not put. We finish on 99 and are very disappointed despite the ‘oppo claiming this is a good score on this pitch. (Steven took 3/19 and 2 catches. Guess what he gets later?

TEA. Much better effort and enjoyed all round. We present Walkie with a 16th Birthday cake.

We lurch into the field and have the luxury of regular subs through the day for all perhaps except those that needed it!

Ruggy does what he does so well and sticks to good lines and lengths. His 4 overs costing only 6 but he got the opener with one that, how shall we say, kept a bit low on him. As I said to Saddam, you can always tell when a bloke can really bat just before he departed for 0. Candy Man keeps up the pressure at the other end but still remains wicketless for the club. There appears to be a rule in Cambridge that a thin edge to the ‘keeper standing up to the stumps, even with spectators appealing isn’t out. I hope that bat enjoyed the 2 runs he manged to muster before we ran him out. (Good arm Scrappy)

The vice rotates his bowlers well and sets good fields to frustrate the batting side and they never looked like getting close. One of the great moments being the move of a player to gully, a rank wide full toss from Hot Wheels and he smacks straight to gully. As Napoleon said, “I don’t need good Generals, I need lucky ones” Tell you what, it looked great. We rattled through them in no time and almost everything was held. Grumpy Stumpy took a nice leg side effort and dropped a sitter at the end but it didn’t cost us. Dino, on a pitch I am sure he would love to take everywhere, turned one Warne style that had the bat asking if the keeper had knocked the stumps as he could not believe the ball had hit. Glorious. Vice takes 2/8, Double 0 3/8, Scrappy 1/4 and the last another run out. The 93 year old gentleman was sold so far down the river we could have run him out 4 times. (Which was luck as Grumpy Stumpy took 2 goes to get the bails off.) They are cleaned up for 59 and we are 2 for 2 on SAT 130.

We retire to their pub in one of the less salubrious areas of Cambridge and dole out the awards.

SB not surprisingly to Hangover for his excellent performance for them and the Ainsley Harriet Hot Performance of the day to our treasure Scrappy . WE hug and kiss and promise to be friends for ever as we make our way home.

A special thanks to Jordan for getting this tour organised and sorted so well. Thanks to Saddam for 2 great fixtures, 2 lovely grounds and 1 half decent tea.

As the sun sets over the French coast and the waiter serves the first champagne of the day I bid you all farewell.

If you have any issues about the report or the factual information Geoff can be contacted on geoffwilliamson@live.com

Thanks to everyone who took time out from their lives and made this weekend what has been termed as the “greatest tour ever” Perhaps that is until next year?

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