Club Cricket Conference 2013 Tour to Italy
By Robbie Book
25 September 2013
The Club Cricket Conference Representative XI made a five match tour to Italy, based in Milan from 18 September to 22 September 2013.
The touring party comprised of:
Mark Smith (Wimbledon CC) - capt
Zashan Arshad (Tring Park CC)
Eddie Ballard (Bishop's Stortford CC)
Sam Burge (East Molesey CC)
Joe Ellis-Grewal (Wanstead CC)
Richard Hindley (Havant CC)
Waqas Hussain (Slough CC)
Imran Qayyum (Finchley CC)
Jamie Southgate (Welwyn Garden City CC)
Will Stickler (Tunbridge Wells CC)
Edward Wharton (Hornsey CC)
Richard Wharton (Hornsey CC)
Coach: Min Patel
Manager: Mark Stear
Umpire: Steve Hodge
Scorer: Geoff Knight
A score-line of played 6, won 6 would indicate to the sceptical sports follower that this was a very one-sided tour. This observer saw it a little differently.
Playing against two Club sides and two National selection teams made it a tour of two halves.
Match 1: Idle CC does not participate in the Italian League system and plays its cricket in an extremely friendly and social atmosphere in Lodi, about an hour from central Milan. The ground is a reclaimed radish field with an Astroturf wicket, and a mature maize field as one boundary. Ball retrieval from there – seemingly impossible - was applauded each time. After getting over the loss of three quick wickets due to the unpredictable bounce, CCC set about the bowling with gusto scoring 287 in 40 overs with excellent batting from Will Stickler 101 no, Waqas Hussain 67, Mark Smith 53 and Richard Hindley 37. The bowling (Imran Qayyum 5/14) and fielding by CCC were good enough to restrict Idle to below 100. (full scorcard here)
The match undoubtedly served as a lesson for our younger players, who have only ever played in a league environment, in the difficulties experienced by Clubs in the developing cricketing nations. Just to play a match means everyone must do everything - teas, wicket, outfield, boundary, changing room etc. etc. Rocking up to the ground, playing and going home is not in the truly amateur culture of Italian cricket.
Match 2: Milan Kingsgrove CC offered CCC a T20 match the next day. An ex-soccer pitch in a huge sports complex is leased to the main Milan Cricket Club, and Kingsgrove are one of the teams using the facility. The pitch is also Astroturf but a lot truer than the previous day. Batting first, CCC piled on the runs from the off and amassed an enormous 242 in 20 overs which was too much for the home side. There were excellent contributions from Eddie Ballard 92, Sam Burge 67, and Waqas Hussain again with 34. With very tight bowling the home run rate really did not get off the ground - Joe Ellis-Grewal (2/21) and Zashan Arshad (2-15) meant a very low score in the allotted 20
overs. (full scorecard here)
Matches 3 & 4: After a rest day, we returned to the MCC ground and played FCI Selection B in 2 x T20 matches. Recruited from various league clubs and coached by their international team, this was tougher opposition and it showed especially in their fielding. Batting first in both matches, CCC hit 165/5 (Waqas Hussain 54, Sam Burge 38) and 179/8 (Will Stickler 38, Imran Qayyum 38). The CCC bowling was tight again in the first match (J Southgate 2/8) and in the second match, with the home sides only 50 of the tour, R Hindley took 3 for 11. The wins were by 46 runs and 50 runs respectively. (full scorecards here & here)
Match 5: The final match of the tour was against FCI Selection A at MCC again. A 50 over per side match, saw the home side bat first making 168 all out in 41 overs (Zashan Arshad 3/31, Joe Ellis-Grewal 3/13). The home bowling was not consistent enough and, despite some amazing feats of fielding prowess, CCC made the total look easy, winning by 8 wickets (Eddie Ballard 88 no, Jamie Southgate 34, Richard Hindley 31). (full scorecard here)
We owe particular thanks to The Milan Cricket Club for hosting our matches at their ground at Settimo Milanese. David Sweetman and his team were most helpful and informative. They also ensured that we neither starved nor suffered thirst.
Simone and Nouemi Gambini, the President and Adminstrator of the FCI, as well as their team, helped to arrange the full schedule , leaving our own superb organiser, Donna Black to make sure that all ran smoothly - many thanks to you.
For the tour management team of Mark Stear, Simon Prodger, Gulfraz Riaz and of course Min Patel, I have only the highest praise for their man management skills. Sadly Prodge had to dash back to the UK, but his presence was felt throughout the tour. We will particularly miss the art of captaincy as exhibited by Mark Smith. No doubt he will be back after his next temporary posting in the US.
Tours of this nature are extremely important to the Club Cricket Conference. We play in different environments against different types of opposition. We ensure that Club Cricketers see new worlds within the family of cricket and we help to give the host countries a constructive and tough opposition. Watching Min Patel giving a little master class to the local left arm spinner was a perfect example of cross-border cooperation. Tours, both outgoing and incoming, help us to develop our relationship with ICC and the local Cricket Federations; this, in turn, cements friendships which last for many years. I look forward to the next one.