Overseas tours for Conference Representative XIs represent the pinnacle of our playing ambitions.
Future and Recent Overseas Tours
The Conference have toured Australia nine times, the most recent in 2008. During the previous eight years, at various other times, we had also had the privilege of visiting New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore; but the main driving force behind all the tours was always a need to visit Australia.
Our most recent tour was to Denmark in September 2010. A full report of the tour can be found here.
We are increasing the frequency of overseas tours and plans for a tour to Oman in March 2012 are at an advanced stage. While perhaps not quite "overseas" we are also touring Jersey in the Autumn of 2012. Jersey are also making a number of reciprocal visits to the UK during the summer. As with recent tours to the UK by other ICC Affiliate Countries, Argentina and Tanzania, in 2010 the Conference have put together the itineraries for the visiting XIs.
Our most recent Australian tour included a visit to the newly independent Hong Kong and a first game at the Bradman Oval in Bowral (we were scheduled to play there in 1997 but rain intervened).
The highlight of the tour was Ian Graham's innings against Clare & District of 168 - the highest individual innings played for or against the Conference outside the UK. Another "first" was the decision to take England and Kent spinner Min Patel as a professional coach which has led to his continuing engagement in this role.
The 1991 tour got off to a poor start with defeat at the hands of Hong Kong despite Alf Langley's 99 and the match at Kensington (home of the Don) was abandoned because of an unfit pitch.
Former Kent wicket-keeper/batsman Stuart Waterton enjoyed the most successful tour by a Conference batsman, scoring over 800 runs including one century and seven 50's. The match at Belmont District CA was lost by 28 runs after a last wicket partnership by the home club of 50 - an object lesson in selling wickets as dearly as possible!
The final match of the tour was against Swann Richards' Crusaders in Melbourne where our hosts were bowled out for 68 and defeated by six wickets. One of our opponents that day was a young Victorian called Shane Warne who returned figures of 5-0-18-1. Whatever became of him?
1997 again saw all the matches abandoned inSydney - I thought this only happened in England? The tour made the worst possible start with five consecutive defeats that only ended with victory at Hay, the only up-country venue we have visited on every tour. For the first time the tour was limited solely to Australia and only four matches were won and another tie was recorded at Newcastle.
The 1983 Australia tour followed a similar path to its predecessor with 21 matches in four countries, but this time the Old Collegians excelled themselves by hiring the world-class Sydney Cricket ground as the venue for the Woods Eldershaw Trophy match. Unfortunately the Trophy, retained in England in 1980 courtesy of 24 hours of non-stop rain, was lost by 61 runs and has remained in Australian hands ever since - although whose hands are a matter of conjecture since the trophy disappeared some years ago and has never been seen since. Well, it is how their ancestors got there in the first place. The match was umpired by one of Australia's greatest ever umpires, Tom Brooks, veteran of some 29 Test matches (in those days nearly a world record).
The match in Adelaide saw our opponents captained by former 1975 tourist Tony Stockley – he liked the country so much he emigrated there!
On a more sombre note, 1983 also provided the CCC with one of its finest moments. Disastrous bush fires had not only laid waste to vast areas of Victoria and South Australia, but the up-country matches around Clare were also threatened. Instead of cancelling though, our hosts insisted the matches went ahead and a fundraising concert was held in Clare which made the Australian national news. Friendships were forged that day which will last forever.
Cost and availability meant the 1987 tour was dramatically reduced in scale: no visit to New Zealand or Singapore and no Perth, Melbourne or Brisbane and the direction of the tour reversed.
All the matches in Sydney were abandoned, as was the match at Hilston and a first-ever defeat in Hong Kong rounded the tour off. A gradual strengthening of the opposition was apparent as the margins of victory became smaller than before and the number of defeats increased.
The first tour in 1971 came as a result of an invitation from the Old Collegians, who had toured the UK several times and regularly played the CCC. The second tour in 1975 could not have made a more auspicious start when we played the very first match at the Gabba and defeated an AOC Queensland side containing State players Phil Carlson and John Loxton. We lost heavily in Sydney where current Australian Manager Steve Bernard took 4-37 and lived up to his nickname "The Brute" by sending Alan Price to hospital!
Former Australian Test fast bowler Alan Connolly took 1 for 16 off 6.1 8-ball overs, helping AOC Victoria to a 45 run win in Melbourne whilst a future Test player, Trevor Chappell, was on the losing side in Adelaide where Vic Dodds made 104 not out in our 6 wickets success. The last match of the tour was in Perth where, despite Aussie legend Graeme McKenzie's efforts, the CCC won by 1 run. This was all the more extraordinary because our hosts contrived to lose despite needing just two runs to win with 5 wickets in hand - you used to think only England could do that before Australia's recent rout in Cape Town!
The match at Hilston saw Johnny Wardle return what are still, 41 years on, the best-ever figures by a CCC tourist, 10-1-44-8
Statistically, the 1979 tour was the most successful as well as the longest, with 19 wins from 21 matches in seven weeks, and covering four different countries. For the only time (so far) the CCC won the Woods/Eldershaw Trophy outright with a 7 wicket victory at Mosman Middle Harbour. The match turned on a sensational over immediately after lunch from fast bowler Roger Cruttenden when 4 wickets fell and the home side's seemingly impregnable position disintegrated.
The match at Tamworth provided some light relief when, having elected to bat on a pitch which had been inadvertently heavily watered by the groundsman that morning under a blazing Australia January sun, the CCC were 0-1 after one delivery. Skipper Robin Syrett persuaded the home team that the pitch was unfit and the match was abandoned until the afternoon! Opening batsman, Richard Walker, the unfortunate victim in the morning, showed his gratitude by scoring 116 not out in the return as the Conference romped home by 86 runs!
The match against Hong Kong ended the tour and the representative career of the 2008 President, Robin Syrett, after two tours to Australia and the inaugural tour to Barbados and Trinidad; Tobago.
The Rest of the World
In addition to the tours outlined above, we have also undertaken visits to Kenya at Under 25 level, the Caribbean (three times), Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Sri Lanka. All have presented the tourists with wonderful opportunities to travel, gain experience of different conditions and make friends for life, both with fellow tourists and opponents, and many former tourists have revisited former stamping grounds.
With the benefit of hindsight one of the most poignant moments of the tour, captured on film from the ramparts of the 17th Century Dutch fort which dominates the ground, came during the match against Galle when the local school children surrounded - and eventually invaded - the ground. There must have been about 3,000 and those of us there remember their excitement at seeing strangers on their ground (in those days Sri Lanka had yet to be admitted to Test cricket and the country had not yet become a regular tourist destination).
When the 2004 tsunami swept across the west coast of Sri Lanka it destroyed the Test venue at Galle and killed tens of thousands of people. Many of those children who saw us play in 1981 were still living in Galle on Boxing Day 2004 and will have been caught up in the disaster which unfolded that day.