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Tour of England, 2023

Depending on whose opinion you consult, MCC’s first, second or third tour to England in the post-
Covid era took in the sights of the South East. London, the advertised destination, was relegated to
an optional day trip after our Sunday opposition found themselves without a ground a week before
the fixture and were unable to host us. Thanks to lighting support from the cricketing community
and panic-free decision making from tour manager Paparunzzi, last-minute rearrangements
relocated team accommodation and Sunday’s game 50km west to the Royal County of Berkshire,
conveniently on the doorstep of Windsor Castle. Thankfully, tourists seeking the attractions of the
English capital made the journey a few days early, many with WAGs in town, so the Arun Joy award
for early arrival on tour and the Simrat Pal Singh award for family touring were shared around. Tour
social manager Gloria was delighted to reacquaint himself with his 20 th century roots and organize
multiple late night excursions to the commuter belt’s numerous UNESCO fine dining and late night
sporting venues.

So what was for many a week’s tour boiled down to a three day extravaganza in Windsor and
Maidenhead. Organised fun on arrival day was offered by JD’s inflatable electric dinghy, with an
outing on the River Thames in the sunshine the most Middle Class excursion of the year to date.
Famed explorers Amol and Ritwik took in both the Cotswolds and Stonehenge in a day trip from East
London. Those with more modest expectations were treated to a day of cider and fizzy ales in
Camden, washed down with 25kg of Essex birthday cake.

The team lodgings for the weekend was a glorious if somewhat run-down Edwardian mansion on the
main road out of Maidenhead, 5 minutes on foot from the station and 15 minutes in a cab from each
of our cricket venues. But for the dated furnishings and skinny windows, a fine choice. And so all bar
our intrepid explorers assembled for the mandatory first evening meal: the largest and best
reviewed curry house in this part of suburbia, just a 10 minute stumble around the corner, where a
fine performance was enjoyed by all. A ping pong table erected in one of the living rooms ensured a
long and lively evening, with honours largely even between book and bat. The geriatric demographic
managed a 1am closing time, more than late enough for most, but not late enough to welcome
Ritwik to the team accommodation sometime thereafter, with the intrepid explorer allowing
marginally insufficient buffer to get from one side of London to the other and back again. With
location of the spare key confirmed, the minor detail such as location of accommodation was
eventually deduced, location of his sleeping quarters still TBD at the time of writing. Tourists’ reports
of a ghost roaming the corridors at 3am with an iPhone torch seeking a vacant spot in a double bed
have not been independently verified.

Catering manager Deverill had surpassed all expectations with a trip to his local Waitrose, and a
world-class production line breakfast ensured any minor hangovers were alleviated. The early night
and healthy diet of the evening meant there was ample time to enjoy the surroundings. Team fitness
instructor Owen even had time to partake in his 900 th consecutive park run in scenic Slough.
A short and entertaining cab ride took the team to the majestic surroundings of the Windsor estate
to play our first hosts of the weekend, the Royal Household CC, whose tour to Munich in 2022
remains the longest unbroken drinking binge in Bavarian history. Entry to the high security estate
was straightforward despite a short wait to allow some B-list dignitaries to pose for a photos. The
MCC side was complemented by a crowd of family and friends numbering at least 12, eager to
witness a good day of cricket and a proper English tea.

Captain for the day Paparunzzi lost a good toss and was invited to field. Both sides had a
complement of players exceeding the regulation 11, so the 13 merry men of Munich were able to
rotate. The fielding performance was steady without being stellar. Scotty and Brooksy rolled back
the years as an opening pair, keeping the scoreboard tight for the first few overs despite an all-run 5
to the extra cover fence as LLLL and JD debated which of the two was nearest to the ball.
RHCC were 36/1 after 12 without really looking threatening, and with the timed format of the match
looked likely to extend the first innings well beyond tea. JD came into the attack as first change and
made an instant impact, taking 2 wickets for no runs in his first 3 overs, exploiting the opener’s lack
of scoring options on a length outside the off stump and picking off a couple of the part time players
to loose shots, the first thanks to probably the catch of weekend from newly discovered tour-
specialist fielder Gloria at mid-wicket (we held 2 catches across 2 games). Then followed 15-20 overs
of the two best players in the RHCC side defending the good ones and hitting the bad ones to the
fence, or through the fielders, or getting dropped with the ones they skied. Both scored good fifties,
and although both men eventually fell, RHCC had men in the hutch and the last 10 overs went for 70
despite 3 wickets for Vish’s newly discovered tweaky pies.

Sure enough, the hosts felt at tea that they had done enough and declared. Over the next two hours
we were to discover why RHCC had opted for the very old-fashioned timed format: their team only
contained two players who could bowl. By the time the first change came into the attack after 20
overs, MCC had been reduced to 69/6, all bowled or lbw, with lefty Mandeep grabbing 5/12 in his 10.

Only Joy and Sandy were able to play with any fluency, but both had perished by the time the
part-timers entered the fray. Tentative batting and an increasing required run rate led to a dull 10
overs punctuated in excitement only by gymnastics instructor Simrat perfecting the art of placing
Ritwik on his back with all four limbs and cricket bat pointing vertically upwards. Of all the filthy run-
outs witnessed on tour, this has to rank among the dirtiest. Perhaps alarmed by the arrival of 11 th
man Scotty and JD finally putting willow to ball with intent, having seen enough of someone else
having a go, and having witnessed MCC scoring 17 runs off the bat in the 11 overs since he took a
rest (including 2 back to back fours), RHCC skipper Steve brought himself back into the attack (!) to
make sure our final pair had no chance of nicking the 90 runs required in the 16 overs. It proved to
be a good move as he took the final wicket and straightened up his economy ratings a bit to boot.
In the end MCC were outplayed by three individual performances to nil. But it mattered only a little,
as the famous entertainment went long into the night. The decision to buy a round of beers for the
opposition in a cost-price bar proved to be Joy’s best call of the day as requests for payment for later
rounds were increasingly sporadic, with carriages some time after midnight ferrying the team back
to Maidenhead. The Suchit Desai award for napping goes to JD in recognition for his 2 hour lie-down
in the dressing room, the Paul Scott award for lying down to Owen for a notable foetal position pose
on a Windsor pavement.

Due to the lack of evening meal and the relative lack of exercise in the field caused by the rolling
subs and relative lack of batting from anyone in the side, a late evening dinner and sport excursion
to Maidenhead town centre was hastily arranged, where Sandy and Gloria each demolished a large
plate of kebab and chips while Brooksy and Joy reached the semi-finals of the East Berkshire M&S
trolley bobsleigh cup, unable to take their place in the final due to a defective vehicle.

With an appalling forecast for the afternoon and the approaching autumn equinox guaranteeing
fading light at around 6:30, a start time of 1pm on Sunday was arranged in true English “sod it” fashion. The venue for the day was the superb Binfield CC, complete with covered wicket, huge
outfield and fully equipped bar. Our opposition was to be their Sunday social side, sporting a typical
mix of 60-something club legend, 19-year-old son-of-an-international, Middlesex ladies opening
bowler and 8 somewhat overweight clubmen of significant pie-eating and pint-supping calibre.
Skipper for the day LLLL won an excellent toss and elected to bat, hoping to make the most of the
dry conditions before the forecast storm (not a bowler, this one).

Fresh from a much improved night’s sleep, Ritwik, sent out to bat with Simrat to demonstrate
running between the wickets, made hay while the sun shone, crashing at least 8 fours (the scorecard
doesn’t tell us) in a quick-fire 47 in probably about 35 balls (ditto on scoreboard) before deciding
that retiring at 50 was a mug’s game and getting caught at the second attempt in the same over.
Leaning on his bat admiring from the other end, Simmy was about 12 not out and JD about 8 when
the rain came and forced an agreeable two hour delay in the bar.

With the game reduced to 27 overs per side, MCC went out after the break all guns blazing, scoring
freely on the true and hard pitch. Simmy reached a fluent 37 before running himself out (who’d have
thought it?), JD and Joy perished trying to up the ante, Scotty hammered two slog sweeps to the
fence and Amol smashed everything he faced in a rapid 29 not out. 170/6 was a good score.
BCC looked unbothered by the high rate required, both openers going nicely but steadily and making
40 and 50 respectively. LLLL, keen to give everyone a go, gave 5 overs of the new ball to spin, with
Vishy and Simrat unable take advantage of the new cherry. By the time Brooksy, Sandy and Ritwik
got their hands on the ball it was a soapy sponge. With the wet ball difficult to control and the sun
turning a wet outfield into a fast skiddy sloping ice rink, the MCC bowlers kept a lid on things without
making any great inroads, as BCC’s required run rate climbed steadily with boundaries difficult to
come by. With 6 overs to go and 2 overs going for next to nothing, BCC needed 45. LLLL, heartened
by a miserly first over, stuck to his guns and kept himself in the attack. Perhaps fatally, Ritwik at the
other end cleaned bowled BCC’s steady number 4. Enter young Akash, all bullet arm, wayward fast-
medium and dropped sitter from the first innings with 38 required from 4 overs. In a few lusty blows
he took the game away from MCC, first an almighty square cut which threatened to smash the
changing rooms down, then in the penultimate over a big hoick to long-on which was unfortunately
turfed, two more cuts in front of square and a vicious lofted drive which beat the long-off fielder. 22
from 12 became 2 from 6, with the last run knocked off with 1 ball to spare, Akash 20 not out from
about 8 balls.

It was a game we should have won, but once again the hospitality of the opposition quickly took
most of the pain away. We hope to welcome the Binfield side to Munich in 2024 – they are prepared
for an uncovered pitch.

As half of our side made their hasty exit from this corner of Berkshire to various airports and not-
particularly-local lodgings, those remaining behind took a recommended trip to one of the more
bizarre pub-come-curryhouse venues of this world. JD’s garlic mushrooms were a particular
highlight, as was the waiter who had no idea what a menu or a bar were, let alone what either had
to offer. A gentle evening ensued, with little more than a late-night trip to purchase Febreze to
report. AirBnB is reputed to be changing its rules on deposits as a result.

RHCC 192/7 dec (39 overs) MCC 96 all out (32.5 overs)
C. Nel 67, A. Maxfield 56 A. Joy 23
V. Bhatia 3/35, J. Deverill 2/42 M. Sohi 5/12, S. Nutt 2/58

MCC 170/6 (27 overs) Binfield CC 174/3 (26.5 overs)
R.Banerjee 47, S.P.Singh 37, A.Modak 29* T. Nower 54, I. Goddard 42
T. Williams 2/21

Amol “Commute to Berkshire” Modak
Dave “Saved Two” Llewellyn
Jon “Four hundred and forty Winks” Deverill
Arun “Why not arrest me?” Joy
Owen “Just Lying Down” Davies
Sundeep “Stevenage isn’t too bad” Machado
Simrat “Yes! No! Yes! Maybe! Lie Down!” Pal Singh
Vishv “Shit Gets Wickets” Bhatia
Rob “The Wall” Foster
Tom “Only catches with one hand” Clode
Adey “Feel the Rhythm” Brooks
Paul “The Tyne Tendulkar“ Scott
Ritwik “Poltergeist” Banerjee

Gloria Hall