Vienna 2009

For those Vienna tour veterans among you, this report might not contain the high level of carnage you have come to expect from a jolly to the Austrian capital. However, don’t let your anticipation die just yet. What was lost on the social side was more than made up for on the field of play at the Viennese World Cup.

Hauptbahnhof. International Presse Stand. Friday 9:05am. Weston, Clare, Garner, Fudge, van G & Finch all turned up in high spirits, on time, totally sober and fully rested. Angus would not have approved! Greg Koch was already in Vienna, sent on ahead as a scouting party and to look after the needs of a 32 year old lady he’d met there some years before. What a gent!
In the whole duration of the 4+ hour train journey, a mere 1 beer was consumed by the MCC. Could this mean that winning the trophy was more important than Wien carnage? Angus would not have approved!

Figure 1 – MCC. Morgue Cricket Club?

Discussions on the train through the land of schnitzel & fritzl surrounded the 3rd pool game, which was due to start at 8:00 on the Saturday. This would have meant leaving the hostel at 7am. Angus would not have approved and neither did any of the 6 tourists. It was unanimously decided that we would seek to play the Saturday morning game on Friday.

With plenty of time to spare before the first pool game the preferred mode of transport was U-Bahn & bus to the ground. The sun was shining and upon arrival at Markomannenstrasse we could see the tournament was in full swing with Siva (the Austrian Richter) as ever more than happy to see the MCC.
As the Danish Sri Lankans were stuck in heavy traffic and heavy weather somewhere around the German-Austrian border our 8:00am game was duly brought forward.
Opening up against one of the 3 teams from Hungary, captain Weston won the toss and elected to bat. This turned out to be an excellent decision with Weston leading from the front with a quick fire 80-odd not out (which included a 100+ partnership with Vienna debutant Fudgey) and the MCC posting a daunting 160. Westy’s hitting lead the locals to set a fielder on the 3rd floor of the nearby building site to retrieve the ball. The target was never in danger of being gotten by the opposition. Game on, game one in the bag.
Second up were the New Zealanders and they too were dispatched with little fuss. Again batting first after winning the toss Westy managed a 60+ score this time (not out again) but was over-shadowed by Rich “Rick Flair” Clare who was hitting the cherry all over the place. He went big early and reaped the benefits.
No rest for the wicked with the Danish Sri Lankans now on the scene it was time for the MCC to field first. With only 76 needed and the sun long departed Westy hit a quick fire 40 before Rick Flair managed to trouble the scorers. The light was so bad that both Clare and Weston were struck on the scone. The opposing captain thinking it a fine time to bounce the batsmen. Cheers. When Weston and Clare departed, it was down to Fudgey and Dennis VG to bring the MCC home (though with the light so bad, not many spectators (or fielders?) witnessed the winning runs).

Figure 2 – Friday night sausagefest.

Wombats. A true Viennese institution and the best night’s sleep you can have anywhere for a mere 21€ with whisky cola going for under 3€ a pop.
Unfortunately, by ensuring a late morning start on the Saturday the MCC carnage brigade did not arrive at Wombats until close to 10:30pm. Therefore, even though exhausted from a hat trick of matches, there was little time to rest. Showers for all and a few quick beers/whisky colas/vodka redbulls in the bar and it was go go go. Let the games begin. Or not.
Having made it a staggering 30 metres from the hostel we stumbled into the local kebab house where Westy duly ordered whisky cola for all, but they had no license. Hunger suddenly outweighed the need for alcohol so it was Dürems all round. The friendly owner then produced 2 bottles of Ballentines and said the whisky was on him, we only had to buy the cola to go with it the cola had to be bought. 6€ for a dürem and 2 whisky-colas each, bargain!

Taxis were required to downtown with the U-bahn no longer running. Destination (of course) Schwedenplatz & the Bermuda Triangle. Already into the wee hours of Saturday Wien was not as pumping as expected. In the first bar (Gnadenlos) Fudge and Garner managed to entice a rather nice looking lady into conversation (from Innsbruck I believe) but that was as far as things went there and the MCC were on the move.
Due to Herr Koch looking after the further needs of said 32 year old, it was bestowed upon Herr Kapitain Weston to lead the way and taxis to Passage which was apparently the Viennese P1.
A couple of hours were killed dancing, drinking and watching the real Brüno prance around the dance floor (yes, that was the highlight of the evening!!!) then it was time to call it a night and head back to the Bats and a whole 4 hours sleep.

With qualification for the semis already almost a cert, it was decided to rest “The Flair” for the game against the Hungarians, which turned out to be a mistake as even though Westy starred again with the bat, the boys from Budapest made the meagre target of 86 with an over or so to spare and the loss of only 1 wicket. A wake up call for the MCC indeed.
The penultimate game of the round-robin phase (and the last on Saturday) saw the MCC chase down a total that no one can seem to remember, but again “the Flair” was there to see us home aided by VG (who was so pleased with his innings he dedicated it the club’s famous impala bat which had helped him score all those runs… even though he had actually used a different bat!). Oh, we do remember that the opposition were team NZ again (for the record).

Figure 3 – The Impala – Dennis’ favourite bat.

After finishing playing for the day, the MCC stayed for Siva’s world famous curry and a few Pittingers: Premium Schankbier. The MCC also fulfilled their umpiring requirements, although the Kiwi batsman thought Garner had perhaps had one too many Schankbiers after being triggered from square leg.

Figure 4 – Ghana with a Premium Shankbier. A must before going out to umpire.

Semi-final spot secured, no need to hold back tonight. Vienna at our mercy…
Unfortunately, not a lot to report on the usually large night antics of a Saturday in Vienna. Of the 6 team members who stayed at the Wombats, only 3 made it down for an after shower beer, then Fudgey & Finchy were left alone with one of the Hungarian teams who had ventured across town to spend a legendary night on the lash with the MCC, only to leave an hour later none the wiser as to why they were going home sober. By 0:30 the MCC were all soundly tucked up in bed. Well, except for Herr Koch who had finally got a pass out from his Viennese lover but instead of coming to the Wombats he decided an sms would suffice and that those of us who wanted to party on knew where he was.

For the 1st time in living memory, the MCC turned up for the final day of the Viennese World Cup totally rested, relaxed and sober! Siva could not believe his eyes and a few other teams were disappointed to say the least (they remembered the rabble that was last year on the Sunday I guess).
There was one casualty though. Herr Koch apparently had to leave Vienna earlier than planned as his ride was departing at midday, not 6pm, so the MCC were down to the bare bones of 6 players, all who now knew glory could be theirs from here on in.
The final group game saw the MCC play a 2nd team from Hungary and (yes you’ve guessed it) Westy and Clare open with the latter managing a 444461 over ensuring the out of form Kapitain was kept safely at the non-strikers end and 115 were scored in total. Hungary never looked like attaining the target and the MCC were certain that they had finished with the most points, however, this was not the case. Beaten into 2nd place by the Sri Lankans, the MCC would face the local Austrian boys in the semi-final.

The Austrians won the toss and batted first. Their young opener who had been dominating the pool games was bowled by Westy in the 2nd over, and the MCC took regular wickets to skittle them all out for 59. The MCC cantered home with Clare hitting a 6 onto the tin roof at deep square to secure the victory.

The final was against the Hungarian team who had so convincingly beaten the MCC the day prior. This time, however, the MCC got off to a flier batting first. Even with the early loss of the Flair, Westy and Fudgey managed to put on another 100+ stand and when Hungary came out to chase, the only concern the MCC had was time. The train to Munich was due to depart in just over an hour. Matters were not helped by Finch tearing ligaments in his ankle after 3 balls of the Hungarian innings. Even when Barbie came over to try to console young Finch, the devastation was too much. Oh, for those of you who don’t know who Barbie is, ask Finchie or check out his Facedbook page 😉
Victory assured, a quick photo session and speech from Siva and Westy and it was into the taxis and a dash for Westbahnhof. Arrival 18:00 hrs, train departure 18:15hrs. Knapp aber geschafft!

Figure 5 – Westy receiving the trophy from the amiable host Siva.

All in all it was a great team performance. Too many to bore you with here, but I am sure those who were there on this famous weekend shall never forget …
…Westy knocking the ball into the apartment blocks which are being built behind the pavilion, along with his 390 runs, only 2 outs, so an average of 195
…Rich Clare knocking a 6 over the fence and out onto the road and other various pull shots throughout the weekend
…Fudgey dropping catches for fun (2 off of Finchy’s bowling) and only taking a caught and bowled (stunner though)
…Van Giezen’s valiant effort behind the stumps and his belief in the impala
…Greg Koch’s wonderful catch at deep long on/cow corner and his Sunday Houdini act
…Garner’s arse which helped Finchy’s bowling action become a lot more accurate (don’t ask!) as well as him going to Austria to “live the dream” (buy a house, raise a family and keep them in the cellar)
…Finch managing to clean bowl a batsman who was trying to do the KP reverse (left handed) pull shot to an awful full toss.

Figure 6 – The Viennese world cup winning six. Back (left to right): Fudge, Garner, Finch. Front: Weston, Clare, van Giezen. AWOL: Koch.

As the taxis approached Westbahnhof, Westy noticed a conspicuous vagrant with black hair carrying a cricket bat and wearing a green t-shirt similar to that of Herr Koch. The same Herr Koch who should have been well within Munich’s city limits by now. Hmmmm, something suspicious there. Westy tried to call Herr Koch, who did not answer (surprise, surprise) so an sms was dispatched. Reply was cryptic to say the least. And his explanation when back in Munich… Your guess is as good as ours! (Greg, care to elaborate now?)

For the first time in the history of the tournament the trophy was allowed to leave Vienna so on the train ride home there were photos galore taken with the prized cup. Then it was time for sandwiches, sleep and reflections on a highly successful weekend for the MCC in Austria (well on the pitch at least). Would Angus have approved…?