We enjoy the city of Vienna for many reasons. But for me, one of the biggest draws is being able to put the cricket to one side, and share a drink and many stories/memories with old friends and new. The warmth and hospitality of our VCC hosts always makes the visitors feel at home.
As for our Touregs, the Saturday evening dinner offered a chance for us to get to know each other a little more (our team had hailed from 4 separate counties, and included our Berlin-based “overseas pro”). It was really enjoyable, and I for once felt we grew closer as a team. Thank you for the excellent company guys!
As we moved around the teams, nd the beers flowed, the Touregs were eagerly spreading the word that we had a secret weapon up our sleave. A player, of legendary status, who we has intentionally held back, for the right moment….
Some say that he bowled out Gary Sobers, WG Grace and Brian Lara on the same day.
Some say that he strikes a cricket ball with such force it once exploded on impact.
Some say that he overslept and missed the entire of day 1.
Any or all the above may be true….send your guesses on a postcard! But the mysterious case of the missing Derek was reaching fever pitch. What great deeds would be in store when Sunday came around……?
Game 4: Touregs V UCC Seebarn
…….well the first thing in store for us was a great big hangover. I for one was grateful for the mercy of a 12:30 start. We were lucky to enjoy a nice lie in, and stroll up to the venue around noon. Time for a light warm-up (Edmund put us all to shame with some genuine stretches), and a quick headcount – who’d have thought that would be necessary 24 hours earlier!
Our first opponents of the day were UCC Seebarn (Vienna’s second team). Over the years they have proven to be very able and clever indoor cricketers. Their running between the wickets in particular stood out (their captain Owen insisted later it was just hit-and-run), which was arguably the best of any side in the tournament.
This useful skill helped Seebarn to play low-risk shots, but still pile on the runs. Lily and Edmund kept the ball on the spot nearly every ball, limiting the scoring rate as best they could. Our fielding was a little more sluggish than the previous day….for some inexplicable reason the ground seemed a little further away today!
Enter the amazing Derek! Our mysterious man took the ball in the 6th over, and was an instant success. His bustling approach skidded the ball into the batsmen, with some late swing foxing even settled batsmen. Where has this man been all these years! He picked up a bowled and an LBW for his troubles. Not a bad debut. As always, the Touregs refused to lie down, and a late rally saw us wrestle back some control. Seebarn’s opener s both retired, and their number 3 opted for a comfort break mid-innings (retired knackered in the scorecard?). The final score posted was 103.
We’d require our highest score of the Wintercup to win this one, but we felt very positive going into the chase. We had a point to prove. The masterplan….take the game as deep as possible, and shift the pressure back on Seebarn….whose forte was definitely batting.
And sit back and watch the mighty Derek in full flow, of course! Turns out he can bat as well! Our hero played a very elegant innings, adapting to the challenges of the hall and bounce immediately. He never looked rushed, guiding the ball to all corners in his 28 not out. What a performance!
As the overs ticked by, Touregs were staying thereabouts….a little behind the asking rate perhaps. But Seebarn had thrown their best bowlers in early, searching for a wicket. We had weathered the storm. And Lily led the middle order charge. Her run-a-ball innings, with one beautifully struck 4, came at just the right time for us. Her perfectly judged calls for runs also kept the 3’s flowing. 8 per over became 9 per over, then higher. Momentum was building in our favour.
After Lily departed for a fine 12. Mazza and Martin had the task of finishing the innings. The resolve of Seebarn was finally broken in the 9th over. 3,3,3,3,3….and a crucial boundary to finish. Touregs nervelessly stuck to the gameplan to the end, and it had worked!
8 to win off the final over, and Martin managed to sneak the winning runs…..but only after a couple of leg-spinners ripped past him. We stumbled triumphantly over the line on the penultimate ball! So satisfying to know that every member of this team contributed to a fine win!
Game 5: Touregs V SNASY
That fateful Saturday night, the Touregs also found time to discuss a couple of interesting/bizarre/genius (insert where appropriate) strategies for the following day. One of these found particular favour.
The final couple of hours of the evening can be summarized for me as follows….
“On the last game, we should have 4 slips, Maz. just for banter”.
“Go on Maz, it would be proper funny mate. 3 slips and a gully. Proper bants”!
“Maz you’ve gotta get 4 slips in now”!
“It’s gonna be SO FUNNY, mate”.
“You know what would be such banter, Maz……”
Honestly, I have no idea Chris? Oh wait, could it be 4 slips by chance?
They said it couldn’t be done……3 slips and a gully in a six-a-side indoor match? “You must be mad”, they all said. We sure showed them!
Winning the toss, and electing to field, our maverick stand-in captain (and full time banter merchant) wasted no time at all delivering on his promise. Umbrella fields are rare in isolation in the indoor format. Whether such a tactic has been employed for a 45mph bowler…..and we are in the realms of unique instances in cricket. Long story short, by some complete travesty, somehow the ball eluded the outside edge. I know, I can’t believe it either!
SNASY are a team to look out for in the future. With only 2 players aged 18 (and the rest of the squad just 14-16 years old), we expected a dynamic and energetic display. But combining this with maturity beyond their years. Their repertoire of aggressive and delicate shots made it very difficult to defend. Nevertheless, Touregs saved one of their best performances for last.
Captain Chris did us proud, and made sure the team kept their heads held high, and inspired a late rally. Touregs managed to bowl SNASY out in the final over, thanks to some neat catches. A really positive display once more, and one everyone should be proud of.
In reply, Derek continued his fine form. His traditional style, playing very late, allowed him to caress the ball into gaps. However a running mix-up proved his undoing, ending his short but highly effective contributions to the team.
A word must be spared here for poor Edmund. Every game our poor teammate had contrived a different unlucky way to get out. Every time he took his misfortune on the chin with a smile. And today was no exception. Ed eyes lit up as he received a juicy half volley to tuck into….striking the ball so well that anybody would automatically set off for a single. Unfortunately – this being indoor cricket – such a sweet stroke only ends up rebounding straight to the bowlers end. Bad luck mate!
This left Martin Haynes to anchor the chase for us, a task which the Berlin man performed really well. It was great to see his fluency when driving. His effort was ably supported by our other batsmen, but some quality spin bowling pegged Touregs down to just a few scrambled singles.
Despite our best efforts to open up, SNASY held their nerve, and closed the game out comfortably. Congratulations to a team that will only get better with time!
The closing stages
Being hospitable hosts, the Vienna CC are seemingly determined to ensure no soul goes away empty-handed. This is achieved via the catalogue of raffle prizes – ranging from the magnificent (a limited edition gold coin as the top prize) to the, frankly, baffling (yours truly once returned to the UK with a shiny blue toilet seat).
In summary; a frightening number of schnitzels consumed, several new acquaintances made, some erratic cricket played…..and a wonderful weekend had by us. Thank you to teammates, parents, girlfriends, hosts and everyone for making it so memorable.
2018 will see us make our latest attempt to bring home the famed Wintercup trophy!!
Who knows, it might final be our year……As long as we can find Derek.
Interesting in cricket tours??
The Touregs Cricket Society travel around Europe, playing at interesting, less known venues!
Previous tours have been to Austria, Italy, Germany and Spain!