CRICKETER’S “ROUGH GUIDE”: Vienna!

Every year, the Touregs Cricket Society bring a team to the Vienna Wintercup!

6 years since we first attended, the friendly atmosphere and wonderful city lifestyle keep drawing us back for more! 

Austria is an attractive destination, cricket or otherwise!! Here are a few insights we’ve picked up from our travels.

The cricket. Where can I play?

Seebarn

Get a village green experience with a difference!

Touring Vienna in the Summer will grant you the chance to venture out of town. Tucked in the heart of the mainly rural Sud-Ostereich province, is the Seebarn Cricket Ground.

This ground sees plenty of action, with a large number of league, cup, friendly and even international matches hosted on the central AstroTurf wicket. Many Vienna based clubs share the facility.

The locals take their cricket seriously, and will offer fierce competition for touring sides. But VCC also are very affable hosts, and will ensure you have an enjoyable experience as well as a hard fought match.

Above all, Seebarn is a beautiful setting to watch cricket. On a pleasant summer’s day, there can be few better places.

Geringergasse: The Vienna Wintercup

An international tournament like no other!

For 30 years, Vienna Cricket Club have reached out to the cricketing world, and hosted a six-a-side indoor competition. This Wintercup has now become a treasured fixture in the European cricket calendar.

The event offers an almost unique gathering of teams from the mainstream world to the very little known outposts.

In recent editions, cricketers from Austria, UK, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, Belgium, France and Hungary have represented teams in the Wintercup.

In the hall a competitive spirit dominates, but all rivalries are forgotten at the field. The traditional team dinner on Saturday is a wonderful chance to mingle with cricketers from all backgrounds, learn their stories and make lasting friendships.

You will leave this event with a new found appreciation of the game of cricket, and inspired by the lengths many go to enjoy their favourite pastime.

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIENNA WINTERCUP WEBSITE

The lifestyle: What can I do?

Food and drink

Vienna isn’t short or cosy little pubs, bars and restaurants. With oak panelled walls, traditional dress worn by staff….and the odd low door frame to beware of!….you may well feel as if you’ve walked back in time as you take a seat. And if you order dinner, you won’t be going hungry for the rest of the day!

Salm Brau is just one of many Viennese pubs we have enjoyed. The signature dish here is the Kloster Pfandel, and is well worth trying at least once on your visit! Rich, meaty goulash, stewed together with light dumplings, served in the pan it was baked in. This dish sums up everything that is to like about Austrian food – a delicious, filling feast, perfect for braving the cold weather!

Wienerschnitzel, Schweinbraten and Goulashsuppe are all staples all over town. We recommend a side of one of the many varieties of potato dishes.

**Vegetarian options (excluding desserts) are in a minority, but there is a selection on offer in nearly every restaurant**

Beers to look out for

Ottelkringer

Gosser

Stiegl

Or, try one of the local beers, many of which are brewed on site at places such as Stadtbrauerei. Okay, perhaps the 1.5l steins may have been a little excessive, but we weren’t complaining!

And for dessert….

Sachertorte

Kaiserschmarrn

Apple Strudel

Best places to stay

Regina Hotel

One of many good value hotels right in the heart of Vienna. Recommended if you are a fan of old historical buildings, or scrambled eggs (the extensive breakfast spread goes down a treat)!

Even though access around the city is fantastic, we find the Schottenring is an ideal place to settle. Every major tourist attraction is only 2 or 3 U-Bahn stops away, and the area is awash with nightlife and trendy restaurants!

If you book early, you may get a good deal on the Graben, at the heart of all the tourist action. The magnificent Stefansdomplatz looms over this bustling shopping avenue.

Top sites

Ice skating

The Viennese know how to pass by the chilly months. The Ice Traum skating complex has to be one of the most spectacular anywhere in the world.

There is something to please everyone here – from novice, to expert, or even those who’d just prefer to kick back with a strudel, and watch their mates tumble. 2 massive rinks, a training zone and several winding tracks are available on the ice. Off the ice, you can immerse yourself in the very best of Austrian. Local street food (the crepes are incredible), drink souvenirs and music all around.

Participating is incredibly simple and stress free. Just buy your “Day Pass”, rent your skates, and 5 minutes after arriving you can be on the ice!

A “must do”, if you are in town at the right time!

The “culture vulture”:

You can take in so many iconic building in just a short walk from Stefansdom, through Graben, to the famous Imperial Palace.

The famous square was once home to Mozart, and his living quarters offer an insight to his frivolous lifestyle. There are also world famous art and natural history museums, the Spanish Riding School, and much, much more to take in!

Trams are perfect for sight-seeing. You can hop on and off at will around the Schottenring, with your cheap day ticket.

The “foodie”:

Duck into one of the many “Konditereis”, that pepper the streets of Vienna. Outlets of Strock (practically a Vienna equivalent of Greggs) are unavoidable in the city, and are perfect for grabbing breakfast or a snack to go. As Vienna is a great “walking town”, you might need an energy top up!

For some more upmarket baked goods, pop into Demel, or Hotel Sacher. Demel is particularly intriguing, with a glass-walled kitchen. Watching the chefs create artistic masterpieces is genuinely inspiring – and a fun game to guess what a humble lump of cake is being sculpted into!

You’ll love this place, for the sheer abundance of food on offer! Bratwurst stalls dotted around the streets. Local food is very popular, but for a taste of home, several pubs are to be found in the tourist district. You simply won’t go hungry!

The “late nighter”:

Schottentor is the place for you, a student district of Vienna that is open when other areas have shut down for the night.

 

Passing the Test of time

An fascinating Test match is taking place in India this week. Test cricket receives some critical press. It will only take another one-sided affair next week, for people to be predicting its downfall again.

But i believe the format still has many decades left in it. Here are a couple of arguments in favor of 5-days!

A game for “complete” players

Of late, we tend to speak of “complete” batsmen as one who can smash the ball all around the ground. But this is not telling the whole story. Players realise that, in order to succeed in the longest format, occasionally they will sometimes have to be someone they’re not.

Whether this is the need to curtail your own attacking instincts at points, or adapt to completely unique conditions, a new way must often be found. Would we regard David Warner as one of the world’s greats, if he hadn’t tried his hand at Tests….opting instead for a fortune  on the Twenty20 circuit alone?

And, of course this trend works both ways. However, for players who aspire to become legends, the urge for a complete cricketing CV must be great….you wouldn’t want a missing piece in the puzzle.

Your achievements written in stone

A century in a Test match is a significant achievement. A century away from home is even more notable.

A 4th innings century is an iconic feat. These can be remembered for decades after. How many of these defining cricket moment do you either remember, or have heard of?

We talk of players being individually minded more than ever. These feats against the odd stand out, each with their own context and uniqueness….and ensure you aren’t simply remembered fleetingly.

Something to make the day pass by

I can’t take many days off, to head to the Oval. Work, life, gets in the way.

But one of the beauties of cricket is that you don’t always have to be fixated on each passage of play. The day can wash over you in the background, and be a welcome source of distraction when needed.

Test cricket is a sport that compliments the rhythms of the day. It doesn’t always command your undiluted attention. And – contrary to what marketing departments and millennials might argue – that isn’t always a bad thing!

Touregs Cricket Society: Vienna Wintercup part 2 (#wheresDerek)

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!

touregsWhere’s Derek??

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!

touregs-photoAs 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 practice.jpgSNASY 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!

Click here for our Touregs Cricket Society Facebook page, if you are interested in joining us!

Touregs Cricket Society: Vienna Wintercup 2017! A tale of bats, balls and schnitzel!

vcc-logoEvery February, when many cricketers are still in hibernation, one band of travelers are dusting off their pads and gloves, for their biggest weekend of the year already! This group is known as the Touregs Cricket Society, who make an annual pilgrimage to Austria. Their mission, to bring home the prestigious Vienna Wintercup, an indoor six-a-side tournament – now in its 30th year of existence.

In the past the tournament has attracted cricket clubs from all over UK and Europe. This is our side’s 6th attempt at victory. In previous editions, the best we have managed is runners-up. But every year, our team goes in with fresh optimism, that this can be our year.

The team

ecadOur team was composed of 3 coaches at Twenty20 Community Cricket (Edmund, Chris and Mazza), one member of Berlin CC (Martin Haynes), and 3 members of the ECAD deaf cricket community (Lily, Derek and Martin Henderson). A great bunch of cricketers, from different backgrounds.

We felt confident of putting in a good performance in 2017. As long as we could get to grips with the conditions quickly, make a disciplined start, and not do anything stupid like lose a member of the team before the first ball – ok, i know that’s a bit far fetched, but just an example – the Touregs stood every chance on day 1.

Game 1: Touregs V Vienna CC

Cricket can be an odd game. At 46-0 batting first, Mazza and Chris were cruising. It felt a great time to be taking on the highly experienced hosts, who weren’t yet at their sharpest. Some excellent calling and running, supplemented with wides, set us up perfectly. Could we be genuine contenders this year?! Just an explosive finish was needed.

Well…..explosive it was….just not quite in the way Touregs intended. Before we knew it, 46-0 (solid), had crumbled to 52 all out!! Vienna’s decision to take pace off the ball proved to be a masterstroke, as a succession of Touregs batsmen were out playing too early.

We came out for the second innings, determined to make our hosts work for their runs. And it was great to see everyone keeping spirits up, and playing with a smile. Despite Martin and Lily keeping things tight, Vienna could play risk-free, and reached our total with the loss of 1 wicket.

Some harsh lessons were learnt, but this would serve us well for the future matches.

Game 2: Touregs V Zurich Lions

Touregs were lucky to have back-to-back games. This meant we could build on our momentum with the ball, against Zurich Lions. Winning the toss, it was an easy choice to bowl, and Martin immediately got to work. His clever angles burst the defences of 2 batsmen, while another Zurich Lion was desperately unlucky to be run out, without facing a ball! Mazza chipped in with the 4th wicket, and Lily’s deadly accuracy finished them off, frustrated the last pair into lobbing up a catch.

A really top effort from every member of the team. We chased the target with ease, for no wickets too! Tournament back on track!!

Game 3: Touregs V Warsaw Hussars

hussars picture.jpgOne more team stood in our way on Saturday. And they were an interesting outfit. Warsaw Hussars are a team of Polish born cricketers – who have come to the game later in life, but have been improving at a meteoric pace. Certainly not a team to be underestimated.

Once again, Touregs decided to bowl first. But for some reason, things didn’t quite click as before. A flurry of wides gave Hussars a welcome boost in the first 5 overs, and allowed Robert and Adam to be patient, and settle in very well. Although our discipline improved lots in the second half, the Hussars had their eyes in, and we found it hard to dislodge them. Special compliments should go to our keeper, Martin. His neat glovework, and ability to look very casual when taking the wider deliveries (making them not appear so wide) was invaluable in this match.

The chase began steadily, but some excellent bowling made manouvering the balls challenging. Hussars tall, medium-fast bowlers kept great lines, and extracted some late swing, that always kept our openers thinking. Despite looking in good form, our batsmen had to resort to hitting out, as the run rate increased. The wides never came to take the pressure away. It was just one of those days where the opposition were constantly on the money.

Result: Touregs lose by 10 runs.

Summary

So a disappointing finish to our day 1. 1 win and two defeats is far from a disaster. And the entire team was growing with each passing game. Martin (Henderson) had been our standout bowler, causing every team headaches with clever spin. Lily had produced some tight spells, and fantastic reflex stops at point. Mazza, Chris and Hartin (Haynes) were in the runs. And our one man “pace attack”, Edmund, proved he was one of the quickest bowlers in the tournament…a real asset.

Touregs could also be proud of posessing the largest, loudest most committed travelling supporters group of all! Deborah, James, Tom, Ashley, Darren, we all hugely appreciated your positive words throughout.

We all took an opportunity to experience everything Vienna has to offer. Their are so many attractions, landmarks, acitivities and places to eat and drink, in a city that caters for nearly any kind of tourist. I’d reocmmend anybody to make a trip, if you get the chance.

Hang on….did somebody mention losing a teammate earlier? Coming up in part 2, our Sunday match reports, and the mysterious case of the missing Derek!

wheres derek.jpg
Where’s Derek???

Cricket Around the World: Warsaw Hussars CC

VISIT WARSAW HUSSARS FACEBOOK PAGE FOR MORE INFO!

In 2 years….

  • More than 20 Polish born cricketers
  • Founding the “Natives Cricket Cup”, with 35 cricketers attending
  • 2 UK cricket tours
  • Weekly Summer and Winter training sessions
  • A full Summer of friendly matches and tournaments

From the start

Warsaw Hussars was the birth-child of a small number of Polish-born cricketers. United through cricket, they came to know the game from various sources.

The dream was modest; to be able to enjoy some form of regular cricket, with like-minded individuals. A small group founded the new club, with the intention of improving their basic skills and knowledge of cricket together.

Twenty20 provided encouragement and support from the outset. Our coaches were in dialogue with the team, providing advice where it suited. This included some video analysis of the players, recorded during early training sessions.

We were also able to organize the first tour to the UK, with the team playing under their new official name – the Warsaw Hussars CC. 3 training sessions and 2 friendly matches were held in Surrey and South London. The team performed encouragingly in their first experience of UK cricket grounds – and significantly, turf wickets. Despite 2 defeats, the bowling attack had proved highly successful, bowling out their opponents in the second match.

Early progress

In just a few months, the club had come a long way….but there was still far to travel. The Winter of 2014/15 was critical, where the group was able to add some structure, and formalize their activities into a functioning cricket club. A training base was secured for the Winter months, and a membership developed – all of whom paid an annual fee to take part.

Twenty20 staged the first training camp in Warsaw in December 2014. An intensive weekend of drills and matches (11 hours training spread over 2 days), saw large scale improvements. The main focus of this weekend was improving core technique, where our coaches focussed on the basic batting set-up, straight bat shots, and consistent bowling actions. The outcome was to ensure every player had a solid foundation to build their own game on.

After the camp, detailed notes were provided for the players, outlining what they did well, where there was room for improvement, and solutions to their technical flaws. Importantly, we also provided the key members with tips on how to assist their teammates – for instance observe where a shot or delivery is going wrong, and how to correct it.

By the time of the second training camp – in January 2016 – the development of the team meant that our coaches could be more specific and targeted with our coaching. This year, we put large emphasis on the upcoming Vienna Wintercup, a six-a-side indoor cricket tournament. On top of technique, more time was devoted to game awareness, clear calling and running, and fielding as a collective unit.

2016 season: building and learning

The benefits of this focussed training were reflected in the Hussars’ performances in the 2015 and 2016 Wintercup. Despite only recording a single win in each tournament, the margins of defeat were mostly narrow. Certain “KPI’s” set by the team had been passed with flying colours!

In 2016 it was clear that increased match-play was the secret to reaching the next level of performance. Huge strides in technique and ability had been made across the club. The new challenge; transferring these skills from the training ground to the field of play!

Fortunately, the opportunities to play were greater than ever before. This was thanks to strong cooperation between the casual cricket clubs around Poland. As a result, a handful or multi-team competitions were staged, as well as friendly matches throughout the Summer.

The showpiece event of the 2016 Summer however, was the 2nd CEE Natives Cup. The Hussars had founded the tournament in 2015, open to players who were born in the country they represent. The 2nd edition of the Natives Cup had expanded from 2 teams to 5 (six-a-side) – 2 from Poland, 2 from Estonia and 1 from Serbia – with 35 European-born cricketers participating, this is one of the largest gathering of continental cricket players!

The Hussars were victorious in the 2016 Natives Cup, winning all 5 of their games! This represented a giant leap forwards, demonstrated no better than their convincing defeat of last year’s winning team, Estonia I. The team were learning to express themselves, producing their best cricket on the field.

Reaching the next level

Seizing on this momentum was critical. With just 6 weeks until another UK tour, training began in earnest, the players working harder – and with more purpose and direction – than ever before.

Twenty20 organized a second tour for the Hussars. The schedule was 4 days, compared to 3 days 2014. 8 players were able to travel to London, for 4 matches at Chswick CC, Cobham Avorians CC, Epsom CC and Dorking CC.

Once again, the team were making tangible gains on the field. In 3 full matches, the team weren’t bowled out in any. In fact, in their final match, at Dorking CC against a team comprising of league cricketers, the side batted a full 25 overs, recording 110-4! The batsmen and bowlers showed great composure, to cope with difficult periods, and maintain pressure on the opposition. There was evidence of a long-term strategy developing, with greater awareness of aspects such as field placements and risk management.

In between the matches, the team worked hard on their personal games. With each player having a strong core technique laid down, they were able to focus on the next level, mainly building a personal batting and bowling plan. The players were encouraged to consider their strengths and weakness, playing to the former, and eradicating the latter. We also impressed on the team the importance of thinking about a long-term plan – that is to say, building an innings, or working batsmen out in a longer spell – being disciplined, and sticking to a method that works.

The future

2017 will see the Warsaw Hussars reassess, and plan for the future once more!

There is much to look forwards to. More weekly training, a Summer program, a 3rd Natives Cricket Cup and (with luck) another overseas tour! Among the targets for the coming 12 months will be:

  • Growing the local players base – above and beyond 20 members
  • Introducing juniors to the game of cricket
  • Improved on-field performances – with particular focus on batting totals
  • Formulating a long term plan – for sustainable growth of cricket in Poland

There will also be further coaching visits from Twenty20 (most recent in November 2016), as the partnership between us and the Hussars grows ever closer and stronger.

Cricket has a rich and promising future in Poland. This is thanks to a relentless effort from many members of the community to promote the game, nurturing many newcomers.

Twenty20 are delighted to be contributing to the health of Polish cricket. It is pleasing to see the Warsaw Hussars lay down permanent foundations, securing their future for years to come.