All the waiting and the talking is finally over. The Tour proper starts today with the Allstars’ first match, against St Aulaye. This blog will of course be following events as they unfold, so check back for regular updates covering all the build-up plus lives scores during the game. Kick off is scheduled for 13.00 (which is 12.00 UK time).
08.27: There is a palpable feeling of excitement in the Allstars hotel as the countdown to the game begins.
The skies are overcast, and periods of rain are forecast, which will certainly have an impact on the game.
Stay tuned for an interview with Allstars skipper for the day James Hindle, who’ll be giving us his thoughts on team selection and tactics in an exclusive interview later this morning.
10.28: Speaking exclusively to the Allstars Blog, Skipper James Hindle gave us his thoughts for today’s game:
“I’m a bit apprehensive; being dragged to a Gay Bar by Nick Chadwick last night was not ideal preparation… I worry that I will be distracted by the recurring image of Chadders’ outrageous flirting.
“I’m also a little bit concerned about one Allstars’ close links to a French bookmaker. This individual (of Hugenot extraction) has been heard on the phone to bookmakers at least 7 times in the last few days.”
Obviously this blog does not make irresponsible accusations and so we will not be naming the individual in question. However, we have to cut the interview short as Jon Hautot is about to arrive…
10.37: We’re on the coach and ready to go!
10.52: We’ve departed Bergerac and are now wending our way through the French countryside aboard our tour bus.
11.04: Paul Nicol is keeping our spirits up on the long journey to St Aulaye with a lecture on biodiversity. Bill Oddie is coming in for particular criticism for opposing a cull of seabirds in Newcastle.
Personally, I found his discussion of how evolutionary pressures affect bird size particularly fascinating. It’s just a shame that technological limitations prevent me from putting a video recording of his lecture on this blog.
12.05: Arrived at the cricket ground. It’s a dedicated cricket ground with a matting wicket and a little wooden pavilion, right in the middle of the countryside. Quite delightful.
The journey here was very pretty, through the French countryside; but very long, windy and bumpy. Perhaps it was not a good idea to have had such a rich meal last night (scallops, steak, foie gras and loads of red wine). Several of the tourists are now feeling distinctly queasy. “Have you ever been on a journey that made you want to die?” asked James Hindle. “Queasy is an understatement” groaned Chadders. None of this bodes well for our attempt this afternoon to record our first ever win outside mainland UK.
12.13: Oh God I feel terrible.
12.28: Maxie with Wynford Hicks, St Aulaye CC’s Secretary.
12.37: The Captains: Hindle and Adrian Raynor of St Aulaye.
Instead of a toss, Hindle persuaded Adrian to let us field first, as we are mostly too sick to concentrate on batting. We will be playing a 40 overs game, 12 a side, starting in 20 minutes.
12.51: Fantastic news! Chadders is going to play wearing Richard Stephenson’s old cricket trousers!
15.47: Innings break. St Aulaye scored 204-9 off their 40 overs, skipper Raynor top scoring with 110. For the Allstars, Garreth Dunkan was the pick of the bowlers: opening from the River End and picking up 2-42 off a single 8 over spell. Plaudits also to Paul Nicol, who put in an exemplary performance in the field, taking 3 good catches and saving at least 20 runs. An inspiration to us all.
So St Anne’s Allstars require 205 off 40 overs to win, at a rate of 5.13 per over. James Hindle and Paul Bowman will open the batting.
The biggest problem for the Allstars may be the light. It is already very gloomy under heavy, grey clouds; and this far South, at the end of September, it gets dark very quickly. Let’s hope that everyone has been eating their carrots.
16.27: Allstars are 28-0 after 8 overs (Hindle 11no Bowman 11no).
17.07: Drinks. Allstars are 71-1 after 20 overs. Bowman is going nicely on 42, Paul Nicol has 1. The run rate required has crept up to 6.7. But we have plenty of wickets and big hitters to come, so no need to panic. Yet.
17.26: KP has his half century! He is 51no, with Jon Hautot on 8 at the other end. Allstars are 94-2 after 26 overs. Run rate required is now up to 7.93.
17.49: KP and Hautot have taken the Allstars to 158-2 off 35 overs. That leaves a target of 47 off the last 5 overs.
18.29: Game over: St Aulaye won by 22 runs. We really went for it at the end, which inevitably led to a flurry of late wickets. We ended on 181-10, Paul Bowman top scoring with a career best 88. It was a good, close cricket match, enjoyed by all.
20.13: We’re now having a very pleasant meal in a restaurant in St Aulaye with our hosts. At some point I will have blog about our bizarre and highly unpleasant coach driver, but writing about him now will just annoy me, so I am going to leave that particular story for another time.
The Rocket was immaculately dressed for dinner: