After assembling in Leamington and this year relying on the driving skills of clubmen to get them around, the touring party split into two and headed to Northern CC and Prescott & Odyssey CC captained by the old heads of Matty Howe and Jewson respectively.
At Northern CC Denne got us off to a rapid start with a quick-fire 20, whilst others around him faltered and his departure left us 30-3. Enter the fresh combination of Neil (who?) and Howard who both scored 50s and got us up to a hefty total. Tight bowling and fielding allowed us to secure a 60 run victory.
Over at Prescott, after winning the toss and choosing to bat we were fearing the worst as we found ourselves 0-1 as Jake attempted an extravagant drive over mid-off. Not the ideal endorsement for the so-called ‘new brand of cricket’ we were trying to implement. However from there we recovered strongly with contribution from Adeel (20) and Hall (46), alongside retirees Clayden, Goodyear and Beauclerk who all reached their half centuries. This meant that we posted a competitive 277 off 40 overs. Once we removed their dangerous openers Prescott never really threatened our score with 2 wickets apiece for Jewson (one as a result of a stunning boundary catch by useless fielder Goodyear), Sittampalam, Stilo and Lord Swatton giving us a 56 run victory.
As we journeyed to the hostel elder clubmen tried to remember if there had ever been a day in UWMCC history when the club had won 2 games on the same day. After checking into the hostel a few clubmen ventured out to scout what Liverpool may have to offer us, amazed at the sight of bustling bars on a Sunday evening, something rarely seen in Leamington Spa.
On Monday all the squad travelled together to Caldy CC where we were greeted by a beautiful ground set in National Trust land with stunning views across to North Wales. More importantly to clubmen the bar was open all day alongside a BBQ. We were also treated to a format of cricket none of us had previously experienced – 2 innings a side of 20 overs each.
We limped to 110 in our first innings with only Moose (42) making a notable contribution. A strong fielding and bowling performance, with Rob Kraus (1-14 off 4) and Connor Hobbs (2-28) being the pick of the bowlers meant that we limited the first innings deficit to just 10 runs. In our second innings, a 130 run partnership between Sittampalam (79) and Goodyear (75) meant we set Caldy a challenging 182 to win. The mesmerising power of Sittampalam’s batting in particular was something to behold, leading Adeel to declare that “on this form, Jake could get in any side in the world”. Despite their overseas striking some lusty blows (cue scorer Howe’s trademark “PIIIINNG”) late on we ran out winners by 30 runs. A special mention to Moose for one of the most amazing bits of fielding on the boundary to parry the ball back infield to prevent a six.
We returned to the hostel daring to dream of an unbeaten Dom Tour. The evening was spent sampling the various flavours on offer in Cava, a tequila bar, with PopWorld then unsurprisingly being the venue of choice for many clubmen.
On Tuesday, the baton was passed to Bennett to lead the side as we looked to continue our unbeaten run. Unfortunately, we came up against our strongest opposition in Upton CC. We did well to post 193 off our 30 overs, with Oli Thornley and Gujar being the main contributors, both retiring at 50. After dismissing both their openers for 0, their middle order put us to the sword, romping home 5 overs to spare to win by 7 wickets.
After a mishap with tea not arriving between innings we were treated to a delicious curry after the game. Their Kiwi overseas proved himself to be a great host organising games for us to take part in such as a slow race and press up slaps challenge, with half yards of beer being the punishment for the loser, much to the delight of clubmen. I have since had a letter from the Upton chairman thanking us for the extraordinary bar takings on the day, so at least if our cricket wasn’t up to scratch we proved to be good at something… well done chaps! The evening was rather quiet with many clubmen readying themselves for Manchester.
A late morning journey to Manchester allowed us just enough time check into our new hostel and grab our first meaningful feed of the week at Zizzis/Nando’s before heading off to Cheetham Hill Cricket Club for our final game of the tour – an evening t20, in which we fielded a full Final Year XI.
Against sub-standard opposition we scored 170 off our 20 overs, with Liam, Bennett and Matty all finishing their UWMCC careers in the runs, retiring on 30. There was some lighter entertainment provided by seeing Jewson play all round a slow, straight one and Denne running out Sittampalam in his final ever innings. Somehow Cheetham reached 103 in reply with Denne and Stodhart picking up 2 wickets apiece.
In the evening we were joined by our own resident Mancunian Rob Povey who took us to Birdcage, which was later discovered to be Manchester’s premium gay club. It has been dubbed one of the loosest nights in UWMCC history, with Bradshaw, Gujar, Adeel, Larkins and Clayden being at the centre of goings on.
Our first day without cricket was supposed to involve a leisurely trip to the Trafford Centre, however this was delayed as we launched a manhunt for Gujar who appeared to have gone AWOL before being found in any empty dorm on a different floor of the hostel. Once we arrived at the Trafford Centre we embarked on a game of mini-golf played with varying degrees of seriousness- Rob Stileman in particular appears to be in the wrong sport.
In the evening the touring party headed to Red Hot World Buffet which satisfied the darb of many clubmen. This was followed by a visit to Factory which proved to divide the opinion of clubmen – the old guard Jewson and Stodhart leaving after 45 minutes struggling to cope with the serious levels of strobing.
A much welcomed lie in for clubmen after 4 big nights meant there was very little activity before the afternoon when we headed to Old Trafford to watch Lancashire v Yorkshire in a t20 match.
It was a glorious evening and we were treated to an absolute run fest. We did our best to make it on to TV, with Swatton even wacking a pint when the camera was on us, but unfortunately it seems to have proved unsuccessful. There was a brief moment of panic on the journey home as an unlikely hero Lord Swatton attempted to play peacemaker (“it’s a gentleman’s game!”) and come between 2 men as they were about to come to blows.
A brief pre drinks was followed by our final night out of the tour with a return to Factory due to lack of local knowledge – even if numbers were slightly depleted by this point with the week catching up with some clubmen.
A leisurely drive home, before some emotional goodbyes in Leamington. So all that is left to say is thank you to everyone who toured – hope you enjoyed it! And goodbye to our esteemed clubmen who are leaving us, best of luck for the future and we look forward to welcoming you back soon!