So, I'm back after the summer recess. Well, if truth be told, it wasn't a recess, but just a conscious time-out from writing my blog.
Anyway, time for some more of the usual - this time a synopsis of Basel Cricket Club's trip to Luxembourg to play the Optimists CC in two matches on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th August respectively.
Owing to "visa issues" preventing the Indians in our side from crossing the border into the EU, the party that left on a mini-bus hired at the airport on Friday late afternoon was severely depleted. We comprised four English (Simon, Richard, John and myself), two South Africans (Jacques and Anthony) and a Trinidadian (Mike). Nelson, a Dutchman and friend of Mike's and the South Africans, would later join us in Luxembourg. The arrangement was for the eight of us to be complemented on the field of play by some of the Luxembourgois. Poor old Nelson hadn't ever seen a cricket ball up close in his life so any role he would play would be fishing back leg-side wides and dabbles at deep fine leg with a combination of his baseball knowledge and improvisation. However, this didn't stop us from nicknaming him "Deepak Chanderpaul" so as to strike fear into the opposition.
After a rather heavy Friday night in Luxembourg City, we all got lifts to the ground late on Saturday morning in three cars owned by the Optimists players. The pitch was situated in a lovely area on the edge of the wealthy-looking village of Walferdange, around 6 km north of the city. Play started at 1pm, with Basel put into bat. After a top-order collapse, Jacques the South African steered the ship with a decent knock. Before losing his wicket for 48, he was joined at the crease by yours truly, batting at no. 7. I proceeded to make 18 - my best ever innings! During my time out in the middle, I was accompanied by three batsmen: Jacques, an Optimist player whose name escapes me, plus another Optimist player called Chris (though Jacques christened him "Christelle" because of his ample blond locks). Christelle went on to make a big score, while I contented myself with ones and twos and playing the support role with some brisk running between the wickets. After what felt like a good hour at the crease, I was knackered and eventually played a tired shot straight into the hands of cover. Oh well.
Basel were bowled out for 165 some time before the end of the allotted 35 overs.
Optimists began confidently and made a much better fist of batting steadily than we had. They reached our total with some overs to spare for the loss of around 7. I didn't bowl.
After showering and changing in the "pavillion" - a plush clubhouse catering for tennis, football and cricket - we were invited by the Optimists team to join them for curry served outside in the clubhouse garden. Made by some of the club's Indians, it must have been one of the best curries we'd all had for a long time.
That evening when we got back to the city, we decided to venture out to the annual Schueberfouer, one of the largest fun fairs in the whole of Benelux. The following is a scan of the front of the official flyer:
With the fair not closing until 3am on the Saturday, we still had plenty of time to kill despite arriving at the fair grounds at around 11.30. We went on a couple of rides, and more sturdy of bowel even went on the most terrifying ride: like a giant mallet swaying up and down and over...
We stayed at the fair till around 2am and then decided to head off elsewhere in search of night life. We ended up in "The Tube", a bar room like a small cellar shaped like - you've guessed it - the London Tube. There was a DJ there spinning the tunes (or whatever you say nowadays) . "Der DJ hat gut aufgelegt", as you'd say in Germany. At some time after 3, we were thrown out as it was closing time. We subsequently tried to get into two night clubs after two taxi rides round the city, but with John aged 17 it was always going to be a losing battle. At 4am most of us (but not all of us) called it a day.
For the Sunday game we'd arranged that the match would begin at 12 noon so as to give us time get back to Basle at the end of the day. I must have got 5 hours of sleep in the end, which wasn't a bad effort. Had breakfast just before 10 and we all set off for Walferdange just after 11 - this time in the mini-bus.
To summarise a day's cricket in a few lines, Basel won this time by 6 runs in a real cliffhanger of a finish. Optimists were seemingly coasting to our total of 195 in 35 overs, but we managed to skittle them out just before the finishing line.
After all taking what can be termed a "shower in a can" (good old deodorant), we boarded the mini-bus and headed home. Overall, it had been a great weekend, and we were really grateful to the Optimists team who had been the perfect hosts. We'd also acquainted ourselves thoroughly with Bofferding.