Rewind to … 2005 – Gents get Scratched!

The Gentlemen of West London are our longest-standing opponents, our friendly fixtures with them going right back to 2002. They’re great guys and our games with them are always played in a good spirit – but they are a strong side, and it takes something extra special from the Allstars to beat them. The first time was in our opening fixture of 2005, thanks to one of the greatest ever Allstars innings, from Simon “Scratch” Begley. James Terrett tells the story…

Sunday 24 April 2005, Victoria Recreation Ground, Surbiton. St Anne’s Allstars 153-8 (35 overs; Simon Begley 89*) beat Gentlemen of West London 114 all out (James Devlin 4-13, Nick Chadwick 3-7) by 39 runs.

Ever since the Allstars were founded, we have always lost to the Gentlemen of West London. It has been a constant source of frustration, as we feel we can certainly compete, but in the past we have capitulated and handed them victory on a plate, served with humiliation pie and embarrassment gravy. It was with a feeling of dread therefore, that Maxie and Andy Burman (his Gents counterpart) had decided to celebrate this fixture with a cup, known as the 42-11 Trophy (our total with 12 players against the Gents last year). The last thing I wanted to do was to embarrass ourselves once more on the cricket field and then applaud the Gents team as they collected the trophy for the 17th time in succession. My feelings were unfounded, as we finally put in a strong performance that brought the first silverware in our history home to Allstars HQ.

The game started as normal. We elected to bat and the pitch assisted the bowlers extremely well. Tristan was bowled by one that kept very low and Maxie decided we had lost. Adam Clements played well before being caught at deep-ish square leg to leave us 10 for 2. Felix was then bowled some overs later to leave us 19 for 3, and thoughts of a sub-50 total were on the cards.

There then followed a magnificent innings by Scratch, taking us to 55 for 4 before being joined by Paul Nicol. These two dominated the bowling and took us into the hundreds before Paul was very well caught on the long-on boundary for 28.

We then faltered, with the other batsmen falling quickly, but no-one had forgotten Scratch at the other end. In the last 10 overs he really cut loose, his unbeaten 89 guiding us to an eventual 35-over total of 153 for 8, ably assisted by Devers putting together a vital 9th wicket partnership and with it a very strong target.

It was difficult to pick out a highlight in the innings. Some people felt it was Scratch’s straight six back over the bowler’s, head but I feel it was the 28-run partnership between him and me from which my running of three wides simply took the spectators’ breath away. My eleven ball duck will certainly bring the crowds back to cricket.

After a very satisfying tea, we took to the field knowing we were in the driving seat. Tight bowling from Tristan meant the Gents, in just the first over of the innings, took on a suicidal second run to the athletic fielding of Chadders. The Hove-based demon bowler dived to half-stop a certain boundary before firing in to Tristan to whip the bails off. Devers followed up with a sinister line, encouraging the pitch to offer something to his controlled deliveries. One kept a little low to dismiss Justin Northcott and then a copycat delivery to James Lewis an over later ensured the Gents were in trouble at 15 for 3.

Paul Nicol also bowled one which wouldn’t have looked out of place at a crown green bowling tournament and Chadders bowled an excellent delivery to have the number five batsman caught behind. All this time the Gents danger man Kiwi Wayne played some aggressive shots and kept the scoreboard moving but he too succumbed to the tight bowling from Paul Nicol, ensuring we effectively had the Gents in a half-nelson with the crowd baying for blood.

The next partnership between Mark “Scibbo” Sciberras and “HP” Denton was a dangerous one. Both batsman played themselves in before being bowled some waist-high full tosses which were smashed to the boundary on a regular basis. Difficult and unpredictable bounces also cost us byes and missed run-outs and mis-fields started to creep into our game. Suddenly we’d taken our foot off the Gents’ throat, and they’d moved on from 45 for 6 to 100 for 6.

With Kieran Toohey bowling well from the pavilion end, Maxie turned to Scratch to mix things up and his leg-spin had the desired effect. Falling to a wide, short, looping ball that offered no turn, Scibbo launched the delivery high to deep extra cover. Adam, fielding at long off, set-off like a greyhound and took a superb running catch to rid the Allstars of the big hitting Scibbo. Cue a massive collective sigh of relief.

Once Scibbo was gone it was all about taking our chances. With the run-rate creeping higher, the Gents had to throw caution to the wind and after surviving some close run-out attempts, we made the breakthrough with Paul Nicol combining with Chris behind the stumps to run-out the number 7 batsman and we were into the tail-enders. Chadders returned, having Tony Buck caught by Clem in the gully, before “One Dart” Devers also returned to mop up the tail, clean bowling both to finish with four wickets.

The elusive win and the new trophy were ours. In the pub afterwards it was widely accepted that Clem’s catch was the highlight of the fielding performance, although I’m pretty sure they overlooked the way I backed up some of the long throws and my excellent throwing of the ball back to the bowler had the press box exchanging appreciative nods.

Man of the match plaudits go to Simon Begley for his heroic, imperious, 89*, and who batted unbeaten through 35 overs – including our amazing partnership. Played 1 won 1 – I sense an Arsenal season.

Rewind to … 2005 – Menorca tour

In 2005, the Allstars took touring to a new level, as our first overseas tour took us to the holiday island of Menorca. It was to be one of our liveliest as we enjoyed a fabulous five days in the sunshine, cricket with some generous hosts and some, er, interesting nightlife. Club founder Maxie Allen tells the story …

Menorca CC today. Still as impressive as it was in 2005.

The fourth Allstars tour, and for the first time, a foreign destination. The inspiration came from Garreth, who had seen an article in a newspaper travel section about Menorca CC in the Balearics, who host touring sides each weekend. I got in touch with the club, and the deal was on. It proved to be one of the easier trips to organise, and the combination of convenient dates and an attractive venue prompted a record-breaking tour party of no fewer than seventeen. As we looked ahead to the trip, we were all excited by the prospect – and we were not to be disappointed.

Most of us made an uneventful journey to the airport by train, apart from Garreth, that most natural of motorists, who decided to enliven proceedings by having his car break down on the way to Gatwick. You will notice that we are all wearing our Allstars tour t-shirts. These did not arrive from the screen-printers quite as envisaged. My idea was to stylishly combine the club colours by having a discreet red pinstripe run down the right side of the black shirt, in a way similar to the England 2002 football World Cup strip. This was rather lost in translation, and what we actually got was a fat scarlet oblong, which started somewhere around the nipple and ended above the waist. The effect produced was to make it seem as if we were all wearing our squad numbers, but each of us was number 1.

After we eventually landed in Menorca, we were very excited to discover that the minibus we’d booked turned out to an entire proper coach, enabling us to pretend during the drive to the hotel that we were some kind of real professional touring squad, or on our way to play in an FA Cup final. There then followed a startling scene at the hotel, when we walked into the lobby to be greeted by the sight of two hundred old ladies. It transpired that the hotel catered almost exclusively for people on Saga holidays. We were the youngest guests there by a margin of about forty years. It was as if we’d wandered on to the set of Cocoon.

Once checked in, we headed into the Menorcan capital Mahon in search of nightlife, only to find that almost everywhere was closed. We at length happened upon an interesting venue, in which we proceeded to enjoy one of the most celebrated nights in Allstars history. The in-house entertainment revolved around the simple axiom of taking it in turns to stand on a table and sing along loudly to rock songs. As you would expect, Jason Nixon was very much in his element, but it fell to Devers to steal the show. Atop his table, he led the way in a deeply moving rendition of the Smokie classic Living Next Door To Alice.

We spent an uncharacteristically civilised morning by the hotel pool, and after a spot of lunch headed down to the Saturday match. As 17 was far too many to fit into any one team, some of the tour party headed into town to watch the FA Cup Final – a snoozefest decided by penalties. More of those later.

The set-up at Menorca CC was very impressive. The club was formed in 1985, mainly from English ex-pats, and in 1992 opened their present ground in Biniparrell. In the process they have carved a lovely cricket venue out of what was originally a rocky field, and built a splendidly appointed pavilion and bar to boot. Much hard work and fund-raising has been put in over the years to maintain the facilities, which included a high-quality artificial wicket.

As ever on a gloriously warm sunny day, I lost the toss and we fielded. For most of Menorca’s innings, we bowled pretty well, especially Chadders, and took our chances in the field. At one point we had them 99 for 6, only to find, as if often the case, that the oppo had hidden their best batsman down the order. His name was Jeff Barker, Menorca’s captain, whose quickfire 46 from number eight helped the home side to a robust 40 over total of 215-9.

Sadly, our batting was a disaster. An early order collapse in the face of good bowling hastened us to an irrecoverable 17-4, and featured our trump card Chris Hipwell leaving a ball which took out his middle stump. Only Dave Halladay, with 43, made much of an impression, and after 40 overs we were 119-8 and had lost by 96 runs.

There was a nice little ceremony after the match, in which the Menorcans gave us a souvenir picture to take home.

Saturday’s team: (back row) Tristan Haddow-Allen, James Devlin, Mike Bovill, Adam Clements, Jason Nixon, Chris Gould, Dave Halladay; (front row) Nick Chadwick, Chris Hipwell, James Terrett, Maxie Haddow-Allen.

After drinks with the opposition, it was off to El Toro for the gala dinner. The meal closed in the traditional manner: the restaurant keyboardist struck up a sprightly version of Dire Straits’ Walk of Life, and we got up and danced hand-to-hand with the other diners.

On arriving at the ground for Sunday’s match, James Terrett, our captain for the day, had to choose a couple of players to leave out of the XI. Easy choice – I ended up playing for the oppo instead. The combination of a stronger home side batting line-up, and our bowlers’ collective hangovers, made for a tough session in the field for the Allstars. David Sheffield’s 58 and Morris’s 59 saw Menorca to a 40-over total of 224-5.

Menorca’s bowling was also stronger for this match, and their pacemen secured an early clutch of LBWs to effectively end the match as a contest within twenty overs. But pride was restored by a characteristically rumbunctious innings from Chris Hipwell – 64 from just forty balls, including ten fours and two sixes. The game was brought to a close by an entertaining little coda: with the Allstars nine wickets down, Menorca captain Russell Day brought me on to bowl, and with my seventh ball I had James Abrahams caught behind.

On Monday, we had a day to kill before boarding our evening flight home, and passed the morning around the pool and seafront. And then we went for lunch … after which we made our way to the S’Algar resort’s leisure complex, for a spot of pool.

The afternoon football match was a hearty affair, chiefly memorable for Garreth’s eye-catching goalkeeping. While awaiting our turn on the pitch, we’d watched some local youths play with great skill and not once allow the ball to ricochet over the perimeter fence into the trees beyond. When we played, we lost the ball four times in the first ten minutes. After one such occasion, when we’d finally retrieved the ball at great and painstaking length from the dense thicket, play restarted. There was an attacking move on Garreth’s goal, and the ball was punted towards him at some height. Garreth pinned his arms to his sides, and shot up like a jack-in-the-box – heading the ball some forty yards directly up in the air and then over the fence. It was a header of such genuine perfection, so truly and sweetly did his head connect with the ball, that it would have absolutely impossible to have done on purpose. But it was hard not to be puzzled by why he’d done it. “I thought I was out of my area”, he explained.

Deadlocked at 3-3, (like another game that month which we won’t mention…) the match went to penalties, with Roger’s strike sealing a win for his side.

We finished with a stirring tour awards ceremony at the hotel. And thus ended our first overseas tour. We’d got a taste for them now, and many more enjoyable overseas tours were to come.

Rewind to … 2004 – Belfast Boys

2004 saw us embark on the third Allstars tour, this time to Belfast. It was another cracking weekend where we were graciously welcomed by our hosts. The cricket was sociable and fun once again, and we also had the chance to enjoy a round on the golf course, as well a dip into Northern Ireland’s troubled past – though a victory on the pitch was to elude us this time. Club founder Maxie Allen tells the story …

Sunday’s team line up. Back row: James Devlin, Roger Pordes, Rahoul Bhansali, Tristan Haddow-Allen, Adam Clements, James Terrett, Andy McIntosh, Chris Hipwell, Alex Williamson, Maxie Haddow-Allen.

For this year’s tour, we were indebted to a remarkable man by the name of Robin Walsh. Well-connected in the Northern Irish cricket scene, Robin proceeded with extraordinary kindness to fix up two scratch sides for us to play, and even arranged a mates’ rate at the Europa, the province’s finest hotel (in)famous for being the world’s most bombed hotel. And so began our epic four days in Belfast, memorable not least for the unremitting warmth and generosity of the city’s people, and the almost unbelievable grace of the cricketers who so outclassed us. We had five tour debutants: Chris Hipwell, Alex Williamson, Andy McIntosh, Rahoul Bhansali and Nick Chadwick.

Friday morning’s activity was a taxi tour of the Troubles – a tourist staple of Belfast these days, but a fascinating experience nonetheless. First stop was the Loyalist stronghold of the Shanklin Road – where we had our first view of the huge murals dedicated to various aspects of the Loyalist cause. They are extraordinary things to witness – painstakingly executed with genuine artistic skill, they are beautiful yet sinister at the same time.

Between the Protestant and Catholic areas of West Belfast is the infamous Wall, erected during the Troubles to stop the opposing sides from hurling deadly projectiles at each other. Nowadays, in more conciliatory times, it’s sometimes referred to as the Peace Wall. We signed it, as all visitors do – the driver carries with him a marker pen for this very purpose. Of all the things written and spoken about Northern Ireland’s turbulent history, it remains to be seen how ‘Allstars were here, 2004’ will be interpreted by future generations. The people and taxi in the picture are on a tour similar to ours.

Murals are more closely identified with Loyalist rather than Republican culture, but the Catholic Falls Road has them too, albeit of a slightly different style. Many of these murals are statements of solidarity with communities in other parts of the world who fight for independence or freedom.

After the taxi tour we rendezvoused again with our host Robin Walsh. It is fair to describe Robin as a bit of a character, but he is also one of the kindest, funniest and most generous men I have ever met. He had put himself out to an extravagant degree to make our visit to Belfast possible.

We eventually arrived at Shaw’s Bridge to be deeply overawed by the splendour of its state of the art facilities. Assisted by lottery funding, the Instonians-Cooke Collegians ground is a mightily impressive multi-sports venue, replete with two proper cricket squares, hockey fields, a well-equipped pavilion, and even boasting an electronic scoreboard. All in all, a bit good for the Allstars.

Our opponents for Friday night’s twenty over a side thrash were the Instonians-Cooke Collegians XI, and their competency at cricket reflected the status of the surroundings. Their batsmen greedily tucked in to our bowling, with one in particular taking a fancy to Devers’s ‘even-slower’ ball. They amassed 133-2 from their twenty overs, but in reply we made a decent fist of it with the bat. Tristan made an unbeaten 33, and Adam and Chris Hipwell unbeaten 30s as we reached 119-7 to lose by 14 runs.

Friday’s team: Tristan Haddow-Allen, James Devlin, Roger Pordes, Nick Chadwick, Rahoul Bhansali, Maxie Haddow-Allen (capt.), James Terrett (wk), Chris Hipwell, Adam Clements, Alex Williamson.

It’s hard to convey just how friendly and hospitable the oppo were, and were in absolutely no hurry, Robin especially, to bring the post-match social to an end. They even laid on a barbecue.

As usual, Saturday was golf day. On this occasion, play was delayed by a long and acrimonious bout of negotiation between us and the course groundstaff, who were reluctant to provide each of eleven idiots with a set of clubs. We’ve had this problem before with mass golf trips on tour – you have to virtually beg the course to take your money. Eventually we brought them round, but problems persisted. The clubs available for hire comprised several hundred sand wedges, still in the wrapping, but not much else. This did little to improve anyone’s game, and the details of how some right-handers fared with a left-handed putter are too gruesome to be described on a family website.

The traditional Saturday night gala dinner. Can’t remember the name of the restaurant, or indeed much about it at all. I was asleep for most of it.

A slip cradle is an excellent tool for sharpening reflexes and honing fielding skills – with the proviso that you can aim the ball at the cradle in the first place. We just couldn’t hit it, reducing Sunday’s pre-match preparations to a farcical display of eleven twits pointlessly hurling cricket balls into the ground. This did not augur well for our impending 40 over a side match against Shaw’s Bridge Cavaliers.

The Sunday game was not one of our finest days on the field. The Cavaliers won the toss and batted first on a true and even pitch. A composite side of Robin’s cricketing friends, many of whom had played in the Friday game, the oppo were a lovely bunch of chaps, but proper club cricketers to a man and far too strong for our bowling even on a good day. After forty overs of retrieving the ball from the boundary, we’d allowed the Cavaliers to reach 214-6, and the total would surely have been higher had not batsmen been obliged to retire at 40.

Our innings was a shambles from the start. Tristan Haddow-Allen and James Terrett, opening up, both went for ducks, and 0-2 quickly became 27-4 after Chris Hipwell had shuffled his way to 11. Alex provided the greatest resistance, with a 23 ball 13, and Andy Macintosh top scored with 19. We were all out for 76 in 31 overs and lost by, ahem, 138 runs.

Once back in the bar, our mood was much improved, and drinks enjoyed all round. Our hosts, generous to the last, organised a little presentation ceremony, in which Chadders was awarded the Allstars player of the tour, and we were each given official Irish Cricket Union commemorative ties from the visits of Australia and West Indies. And with this touching and gentlemanly gesture, another classic tour drew to a close.

Maxie Allen

Rewind to … 2003 – Isle of Wight Delights

Buoyed by the success of our maiden tour to Newquay, the Allstars entered 2003 on a new wave of enthusiasm. It was to be the most successful season in our club’s history – with Tristan Haddow-Allen carrying all before him with a club record 925 runs, we won ten and drew two of our twenty games. That year, our tour took us to the Isle of Wight – another fabulous weekend of fun and merriment, and a fine innings by Dave Halladay taking us to victory for a second tour in succession. Club founder Maxie Allen tells the story …

The 2003 tour party. (Back row, l-r) Nick Jones, Jason Nixon, Chris Gould, Tristan Haddow-Allen; (middle) Roger Pordes, Dave Halladay, Maxie Haddow-Allen; (front row) James Devlin, Kieron Dolphin, Adam Clements, James Terrett, Mike Bovill, and, er, Les from Lake Cars.

Eleven months after our visit to Newquay, the team doctors ruled that our livers had healed well enough, and our digestive systems sufficiently cleansed themselves of pasties, to allow us to embark on a second summer tour.

Tristan and Boves prepare to board the train from Ryde to our tour base in Shanklin. Enthusiasts of rolling stock – of which the Allstars have many – will be interested to learn that the Isle of Wight Railway use converted tube carriages. Uncharacteristically, I failed to fall asleep on them and end up in Seven Sisters.

The seven-strong advance party, shortly to be joined by Dolphin, arrive in Shanklin. The excited reaction of the town’s residents is evident here in the total absence of ticker-tape parades, firework displays, or a welcome party of local dignitaries.

The early part of Friday was spent in our traditional pre-match warm-up routine: mini-golf, Bowlingo and ice cream. Then it was off to Porchfield CC for that evening’s 20 over a side contest against what proved to be rather strong opposition. Despite the smiling faces, we got a good kicking.

Our innings was not an unalloyed success. With Tristan among the early victims as we declined to 9-3, James Terrett bravely counter-attacked with a robust 28, although Porchfield seemed to have divined the limits of his shot-selection when they posted three fielders on the midwicket boundary. Our all-out total of 95 was at least 40 below par.

The familiar sight of the umpire signalling a wide, as we struggle to contain Porchfield’s batsmen. Our hopes were briefly raised when a couple of quick wickets ushered to the crease an unremarkable looking young kid in helmet. No problem here, we thought. Ironically named A. Ringer, he proceeded to top score with 40 and lead his side to an eight-wicket victory.

Standing: Dave Halladay, Mike Bovill, Jason Nixon, Chris Gould, Nick Jones, Roger Pordes, Tom Everest (scorer). Sitting: Tristan Haddow-Allen, James Terrett, Maxie Haddow-Allen, James Devlin, Kieron Dolphin.

Our base for three of the four nights in Shanklin was the Melbourne-Ardenlea – very nice and thoroughly recommended. Here we are relaxing on the bar patio.

Boves can’t bear to watch as the epic Dolphin-Pordes table-tennis clash reaches a searing climax – and proves just how far the Chinese squad will need to raise their game ahead of the next Olympics. Despite the use of a real, hard, table-tennis ball, Kieron has bravely opted to eschew his usual protective equipment of helmet and plate-metal armour.

The annual Saturday night gala dinner – although judging by his choice of shirt, James ‘One Dart’ Devlin appears to have been expecting to perform at the Lakeside, Frimley Green.

It’s one thing to be sledged by the oppo, another by your own team-mates; on this tour, I was sledged by the cab driver. As a reward for dubbing me ‘Captain Mainwairing’, we break the Allstars transfer record to make Les our first overseas signing, and present him with one of our famous tour shirts. Les was held in such high esteem, his photo was to feature on the delightful paper plates which were presented to 2003’s Allstars of the Year.

After electing to bat first our innings seemed in ruins at 44-5, only for Dave Halladay to transform our fortunes with an imperious and unbeaten 89. With strong support from the tail, we make it to 177.

Brearley and Jardine reborn: Boves and Devers team up as joint captains and take turns to order me from fine leg to fine leg. When everyone stops laughing, we get our heads down to pull off one of our finest ever displays in the field. With Tristan bowling brilliantly, and everyone holding their catches, we chip away the Brading wickets to dismiss them for 128 and win by 49 runs.

Back to the hotel bar for the final evening of the tour, and Boves and I are the last survivors – linking up with a few locals for a sophisticated night of 21s, table tennis and real ale.

Rewind to … 2002 – Made in Cornwall

In August 2002 – as famously announced on the Talksport lunchtime news – the Allstars headed west, to go on our maiden tour to Newquay. It was to be the making of us as a team – an epic and glorious odyssey, hewn of blood, sweat, tears, mackerel and fruity bitters, capped by our breakthrough victory against Trengilly Wartha – bringing us all together like never before. Club founder Maxie Allen tells the story …

The sun beats down on the tarmac as we disembark a foreign-looking plane in full official tour uniform. You’re probably thinking we’ve just landed from a long-haul flight to the tropics to begin our overseas tour – and you’d be right, as here we are arriving at Terminal 7 of Newquay International Airport, jet-lagged from our gruelling 45 minute journey. A long weekend of cricket, pasties and liver abuse lies ahead. On the right of the picture, a seemingly innocent looking family are making off with Roger’s luggage.

We gave long and careful consideration to our choice of tour outfit, and plumped for dark suits with red and black polyester club tie. In Tristan’s memorable words, we resembled the Reservoir Dogs bowls club.

With the Atlantic ocean behind us, resplendent in our new tour rugby shirts. This was taken in front of our wonderful hotel. This charming hostelry is perfect for any holiday makers, from young families to stag groups and retired couples. Perfect, that is, if you enjoy mouldy ceilings, rude staff, fire hazards, bed linen full of cigarette burns, and lavatories without either locks or soap.

Standing: Tristan Haddow-Allen, Chris Gould, Maxie Haddow-Allen, Tom Morris, Tom Everest, Adam Clements, Roger Pordes, Andy Dyer, Jim Jarrett. Kneeling: Garreth Duncan, James Terrett, Kieron Dolphin. Jason Nixon is holding the camera

Friday – the first full day of the tour – began with a boat trip fishing for mackerel along the west Cornish coast. Adam was to remain holding on to the rail for almost the entire journey.

Adam’s seasickness was a rich source of amusement for all on board. Luckily, Kieron’s maritime instincts guide us safely back to berth, where we feed our catch to the harbour’s resident seal. Isn’t he cute!

We finally got round to some cricket later in the afternoon, and here we are in the field against Seaview CC in Penryn. They were a very nice bunch of chaps, and decent players too, surviving Adam’s brilliant hat-trick – remarkably, the second of the 2002 season, following Paul Nicol’s on his Allstars debut against Rain Men – to post an impressive 19 over score of 165-7. Note my panther-like stance at mid-off.

Due to a supply problem with the isotonic drinks, our batsmen had to seek alternate refreshment as we prepared for our assault on the target. Sadly, although Adam, Tristan, and Mozza all got stuck in, we fell 42 runs short.

Our Saturday night gala dinner at the medieval-styled Meadery Restaurant was all this man’s work. The lads’ present to me – for months of painstaking work organising hotels, fixtures, travel and logistics – was…four bars of soap. This was a witty reference to my ongoing and increasing bloody battle with the hotel management.

There is no quarter given on any cricket tour, and 48 hours in, Roger is beginning to show the strain.

Sunday, and we arrive, hangovers in tow, at Trengilly Wartha CC in Constantine for the final match of our tour. Tristan falls for a duck in the first over, and eight balls later James Terrett completes his pair for the tour. The Allstars are now 0-2 and in big trouble.

Can’t remember what was going on at the precise moment this was taken, but it’s still a chance to admire Trengilly’s charming and deeply rural ground.

Fats and Adam begin to repair the damage with a third wicket partnership of 37. Thanks to Mozza’s 67, a impressive knock after little sleep – having taken time out of the tour to attend a wedding the previous day – and Dolphin’s tremendous 9, we somehow post 149 all out.

Tristan, Mozza and Adam then bowl like demons – backed up by Chris’s gloves like flypaper behind the stumps – to reduce Trengilly to 56-6. But then the Trengilly lower order resistance begins. After a nervous start, Garreth chips in with the seventh, well caught by Adam at point – but the eighth wicket pair take them to 117, and the game looks gone before Tristan returns to make a crucial breakthrough. In a nerve-wracking climax, he strikes twice more – finishing with 6-37 – as we scrape home by 14 runs. The fall of the final wicket, which brings us victory, is the greatest moment of my cricketing life.

The heroes of Trengilly Wartha. Standing: Tom Everest (scorer), Chris Gould, Roger Pordes, Adam Clements, Maxie Haddow-Allen, Tom Morris, Andy Dyer, Jason Nixon. Kneeling: Tristan Haddow-Allen, James Terrett, Kieron Dolphin, Garreth Duncan, Jim Jarrett.

Heroes to a man. Gracious in defeat, magnanimous in victory. We did it!

Monday morning, and time for the radio producers among us to catch up on the papers.

The pressures of leadership and four days on the fruity were now clearly taking their toll. If I ever get kidnapped, this is the photo I’d like them to use on the news.

Back at Stansted, where a staff shortage crisis leads to a 90 minute wait for our luggage. And so our tour ends on a note of disorganisation, bickering and chaos. Rather fitting, really.