Tour report Vienna, 4 – 6 July 2008
A typically motley crew assembled on Friday morning 9 a.m. in München Hbf in front of Starbucks. The twisted firestarter Palfrey was a surprise last minute replacement for Lovell who doesnt love the shorter form of the game enough. Tour organiser Mr Finch looked to have everything under control. Gus thoughtfully brought some cans for the trip. Westy managed to drag his relatives and mates from Pasha nightclub just in time for departure. New guy Viscount Venkat was given a long lost welcome on the platform. All in all ten fine bodies of men on the train to play a six-a-side tournament – The Annual Viennese 6aside mini World Cup tournament.
Soon after getting under way the guy with the buffet cart was harassed. Performing well under pressure he managed to produce a number of cold fresh Budweisers. Obviously he was not working for his commission though as he failed to show again. Somehow we still managed a steady flow of cans through the trip.
In Vienna Finchie’s plan for taking the U-Bahn and then a bus to the ground was quickly discarded. A fleet of taxis took us safely to the Vienna Cricket Stadium. Just the one stop for some cans.
Format of the game was 6-a-side, 8 over matches with a max 2 overs per bowler. For the first match MCC decided to field first to get a feeling of the game. Venkat and Richie did well with the ball. Although the slow bowling of Westy just outside off seemed to be the most effective. MCC managed to keep the opposition down to 80 runs, which was no problem for the MCC. Opening stand by Palfers and Westy took us a long way and with Clare Rich in good nick this year he was able to finish things off. MCC top of the league.
As we had 10 players, some new players got a chance in the spotlight. After cans all day Gus was still fit enough to bowl (2 no-balls off a 2 step run-up) and field (third man, shambles). We played against a strong Dutch / Sri Lankan side, that managed to score over 90 runs. This proved to be a big challenge. All batsmen had to chip in, in the end Venkat managed to hit some very important sixes over deep square leg and into the car parked on the street (car owner pissed off, but Palfrey tried to convince him in Japanese, Korean and Chinese that this was ok). This won us the game in the final over. Thrilling win!
After the excellent first matches, a number of choice cans were well deserved. Again the U-Bahn seemed unfeasible, so taxis were ordered to the Wombat, our hostel of choice. Quick registration (David Gower was here) and a split in an English / Kiwi / Aussie / Dutch room and a Aussie / English / Kiwi / India room, freshening up and off to the Wombat bar. Quite a few cans, Palfers chair dance/breakage, vodka / red bull, pizzas, fussball and pool-games later the Wombat was getting too much of a sauna and we decided to move off into town. We did lose a few players to grassy Korean wickets and being completely clunted.
Off to the Bermuda Triangle where the best bars were supposed to be. First bar (Bermuda Brau) proved to be a disappointment, and after a very quick drink we continued our quest to the Gnadenlos bar in one of Austria’s famous bunkers. Just a few bourbon cokes, spiced up with a little bourbon, was enough to get the lads dancing and involved. However, as we still had an important match the following morning, most left in time for a snack and a good night’s rest. Captain Westy still found the time to bother the locals with surveys, get completely lost, meet with Miss Germany 1998, put some meet between the buns, sending 20 text messages to the team that he was going to miss Saturday’s game and Palfers should be captain.
As we lost Richie and Kiwi to see the Kiwis beating Australia in the Rugby and Captain Westy was still missing (AWOL), we were actually lucky to have 6 players for the match. We had to play a strong Pakistani side, one of the favourites for the tournament. We still managed to make it a close match, thanks to good bowling from Palfers (4 wickets) and Dennis (4 balls, 3 wides, 1 wicket), good umpiring by Wolfgang, good batting from Ryan. Finchie made it out to the middle for the first time, but just missed out on facing a ball as we were all out 10 runs short. Still some bonus points as we bowled the others all out. Some dubious tactics by the Pakistanis as their best batsman was suddenly too injured to field (bowled and fielded just fine the next day) and they only used 4 bowlers. All allowed in the rules, but clearly not in the spirit of the game. As Steffi was walking by in her new bikini, the arguments were soon completely forgotten.
After the match and a few cold fresh cans, we again failed to get to the U-Bahn. Still got back to the hostel, only to find Kiwi still missing on his brunch date. Most of the team was then off into town, to enjoy the beautiful city centre, the sunshine and a few fresh cans. After a very short sightseeing tour we ended up on the terrace of Hotel Europa for a quiet afternoon, including 39 cans, 5 bourbons, 10 Sambucas, not giving the homeless man money, but offering him a Sambuca, which he smashed back, then offered a second, said no, then hand out raised with a terrible thirst for round 2, got stuck in to it, downed faster than the last, licking his lips, a cheeky wink, and walking away with a spring in his step. Gus entertained the crowd with his now famous Indonesian olive oil story, and the Committee then convened to discuss the behaviour of captain Westy after missing the crucial morning match, putting him on probation for the next match. Finally satisfied with the number of cans, Palfers decided to lie down in the middle of Vienna main street in front of a nice Arab lady that had to walk around him.
As the sightseeing tour took a lot out of us, the dinner in the famous Schnitzel Paradise restaurant was skipped and instead we retreated to the Hostel for some R & R. As Kiwi finally returned from his brunch he could join the fun in the Wombat Sauna and the company of some well travelled girl from NZ: “we were in Belgrade, Hungary yesterday, and we’re going to Vienna in a couple of days”. As the bar was really getting too hot, we moved once again to the Gnadenlos, this time convincing a few of the (young) backpacker girls to come with us. Big night, good fun, “VVS never drank so much beer”, Ryan getting emotionally involved, a few cans and finally all safely back in the Hostel for a few hours sleep. Venkat could feel the effects of a few days on tour with the boys now, and was completely done.
After almost getting half the team killed by a reckless taxidriver, we decided to select our strongest team possible in the field to ensure our place in the semi-final. Meanwhile Finchie was off changing our train tickets so we actually could play the final should it come to that. In the end a convincing win, thanks to good bowling from Dippa, big hits from Westy making up for Saturday’s shambles. We had now qualified for the semis and were actually the tournament favourites. Then the bad news came, we could not catch a later train (despite some good efforts from Kiwi) and could not play the final. As it was no use to win a semi and then pull out, we forfeited our place in the semis to the later winners Sri Lanka Orange, had a few cold and fresh cans, said our thanks to the organisers that did a wonderful job and were off to the Westbahnhof for our train back home, thinking of how we would have won in Vienna (it means nothing to me).
Fairly uneventful trip back home, KFC reluctantly provided some chicken wings for the road, six sweaty guys in a single smelly compartment with the doors closed sleeping convinced most people to ignore us. Just a few cold cans for Gus listening to the ball-by-ball updates of the Wimbledon final and then back in München.
Cricket was the winner, we could have been, but we had a train to catch
Reporter : Dennish