Out in the middle, as soon as I first attempted a run, the perilously fragile nature of my protective equipment became all too apparent. Within a few feet, the top strap on my right pad gave way; it was now joined to my leg only by the ankle. Which made running rather tricky. As luck would have it – thanks to Paul Nicol’s shot – we ended up running a three.
The wides The Greeks are a fastidious lot, it seems, on the cricket field. On Sunday the local umpire applied Corfu league playing conditions, which meant that anything down the leg side was called wide – and there was little margin for error on the off-side either.
You don’t need to have played much Allstars cricket to envisage the likely consequence of such a draconian regime. We bowled no fewer than fifty eight wides – the equivalent of nearly twelve extra overs.
Steve’s sixes So you’re on holiday in Corfu, and take a stroll down to the Esplanade – the town’s central square, which is lined with pavement cafes. You’d expect to sip a Retsina, nibble on some moussaka, and watch the world go by, against the spectacular backdrop of the Venetian fortress and coastline. But what you probably wouldn’t foresee is having a cricket ball whistle past your nose.
That was indeed the unfortunate experience for Saturday’s bemused, and terrified holidaymakers, because the venue is also the supremely unlikely location for a cricket field. It’s thought to be the world’s only working sports facility within a UNESCO heritage site. In fact, Corfu has a rich and extensive cricketing culture, dating back to the 1820s, and British colonial occupation.
The cause of the spectator bombardment was our own Steve Harty, who peppered the perimeter eateries with his massive sixes through midwicket. But his innings was far more than bludgeoning – combining classical elegance with a purity of stroke and acute judgment. Steve played superbly both days, but his Saturday century, in particular, was an absolute peach – as good as anything I’ve ever witnessed in Allstars cricket.
The restaurant On Friday, TG opted out of the water park, and while nosing around the town, spotted a convivial outdoor taverna which seemed perfect for dinner that night. He duly booked it, and a pleasant evening was then enjoyed by all. Highlights included the halloumi, and a sparkler-bedecked cake to celebrate Tarka’s fortieth birthday.
Next day, we pondered over the choice of restaurant for Saturday’s gala dinner. Alexander Louvros, our host and guide, kindly offered to select and book a venue for us – and because the route to it from our hotel was rather complex to describe, volunteered to meet us in advance to lead the way.
There then ensued a lengthy and meandering walk through the nooks and crannies of Corfu old town, twisting and turning along passageways and alleys, until at last we arrived…at exactly the same restaurant we’d been to the previous evening.
The presentations After each match we presented the opposition captain with a signed miniature bat and tour shirt, as tokens of our appreciation. Our representatives, James A and Tarka, also made a speech. Unfortunately, neither of the Greek captains could speak English, and their baffled facial expressions suggested they had no idea what on earth we were doing or talking about. On Saturday, Tarka poured a water bottle over Garreth’s head during the shirt-swap. The Corfu skipper presumably thought this was part of the ceremony – rather like a baptism.
Garreth’s belongings The piece de resistance. During the coach journey back to the airport for the trip home, it emerged that Garreth had left his passport behind at the hotel. Fortunately, the maid had already serviced the room, found the document, and handed it to Tarka as he left reception.
At the airport, we all gathered our suitcases and prepared to enter the departures hall, except for Garreth – who stood alone at the rear of the coach, mournfully shaking his head. He’d also forgotten his luggage.
“I know exactly where it is”, Garreth twice insisted. Which rather begged the question – if he knew where it was, why didn’t he bring it with him? Luckily, he had at least remembered to get dressed.