Saturday 15th March
After months of planning and excitement, the UWMCC touring party (Barclay, Bradshaw, Cooper, David, Denne, Hall, Hobbs, Howe, Jewson, Kilpin, Kraus, Maneka, Sargeant, Thornley, Wells) finally assembled at London Heathrow Terminal 5, ready to travel to what is one of the most incredible countries the 15 of us have ever visited. Airport cricket was preceded by the beginning of the sesh (probably the most over-used cliché over the 12 days) at the airport’s Wetherspoons, which was continued on the plane via ‘the morning sesh-wagon’ (Denne’s nickname for the plane’s drinks trolley), setting the tone for the rest of the trip
Day 1 – Acclimatisation, V&A Waterfront and Aquarium
Arriving in Cape Town at 7am, the touring party had the morning to explore the city before checking into what turned out to be the Once in Cape Town hotel – the change in name hugely confusing Liam. Walking down to the V&A Waterfront, under the shadow of the astounding Table Mountain (it was a view we never grew tired of), we realised the sheer beauty of the place we were staying. The gaze on the perfectly blue water and sky was only disturbed by our first encounter with African wildlife: sea lions. The afternoon consisted of a steak-house meal overlooking the waterfront, where Denne, Jewson, Chobbs, Hall, Root and Cooper were delighted to be introduced to litre-jugs of Castle, drinking whenever the ‘sesh-horn’ (the ships horn) sounded. A more than tipsy exploration of the local aquarium was then followed by drinks and dinner on Long Street, apparently the social hub of both Cape Town and beggars.
Dick of the Day – Jonny Hall for vandalising a road sign.
Day 2 – Robben Island and St Patrick’s Day
The second day began with an early-morning guided tour of the historic Robben Island. The boat ride to and from the island provided stunning views of the city and Table Mountain, eclipsed by the thought-provoking and poignant visit to where Nelson Mandela had been incarcerated for 19 years. The most notable aspect of the tour itself was the insight given to us by the guide: a former inmate who served time with the likes of Mandela, making his own contribution to the struggle against apartheid. Upon returning our local driver, Andrew, took us to what was probably the most expensive restaurant on the Waterfront, from which he was undoubtedly taking a commission. Car park cricket followed, almost ruined by Denne launching a bucket of water over the players from his third floor room, which was then interrupted in the search for food. Mexican dinner was accompanied by literally buckets of Castle, nicely evolving into an apt celebration of St Patrick’s Day in The Dubliner, a local Irish pub reminiscent of a week 10 POP! in both music and attendance.
DotD – Ed Cooper for throwing tea over Hall and the DotD dress.
Day 3 – Match 1 vs University of Cape Town
Our first match consisted of a 50 over thrashing at the hands of Cape Town’s finest (literally). Jewson led an extraordinarily pumped up eleven out onto the field, only to be embarrassed by a half-hour delay caused by the lack of a new ball (Nedmonds we did ask you for new balls!) Once the opposition captain had finally managed to get off of his chair and offer us a relatively well shaped ball, Root and Chobbs were able to get our tour underway. And what a start we had. Third over in, Rooty steaming in down the slope, catching the edge of their opening batsmen (still on 0), flying at a comfortable height to Kraus at gully. Unfortunately the tall man’s pressure catching is reminiscent to fellow leg-spinner Shane Warne at the Oval in 2005, shelling “South Africa’s next best glovesman” on a duck. Two balls later, the other opener lobbed a high ball to Wells who clutched on for dear life. What followed was the greatest mistake a cricketer can make: speaking too soon. Kraus, announcing that “he got away with his drop”, was hilariously (now we look back on it) wrong. David Bedingham (google him) turned out to be a first class batsman who has represented South Africa at under-19 level. He scored 184 off 78 balls. Amongst the brutal hitting was an uncountable number of catches dropped, most notably that of Kilpin dropping him off of Wells’ first delivery in over 2 years, and Barclay running past about 5 on the boundary. Poor Rooty will forever think about the day the future AB De Villiers was dropped off his bowling on 0. Wickets for Wells (4-66), Farid, Kilpin and Root meant that the UWMCC bowled out CTU in an impressive 33 overs, limiting them to a mere 333 runs (only 10 runs per over). UWMCC’s response lived up to expectation, faltering to 50-7 before a brave partnership between Farid and Chobbs – followed by Wells missing about 10 free hits in an over – enabled the team to limp to 168 all out. Despite the result, all 15 members thoroughly enjoyed the day, taking place amongst a picturesque mountainside under hot African sun.
Man of the Match – Farid Maneka for impressive bowling under brutal conditions, as well as an extremely gutsy 40.
DotD – Rob Kraus for allowing one person to score more runs in 30 overs than the UWMCC could in any innings on tour.
Day 4 – Winelands Tour and Stellenbosch
Unfortunately day 4 saw our introduction to South Africa rain. Huge clouds engulfed Table Mountain, completely removing any possibility of us going on a morning trip up the mountain as was scheduled. Perhaps this worked to our advantage, allowing for the UWMCC to slightly recover from our hangovers before embarking on our winelands tour. Margaret Gibson, our tour guide, met us at the hotel, from where we departed to visit three separate wine estates. Throughout Margaret provided a fascinating insight into all aspects of South African culture, particularly when she described her own experiences of apartheid. The drive itself provided us with spectacles of the beautiful Stellenbosch countryside, something that could only have been improved had the sun come out for longer. A day spent indulging in chocolate and wine – albeit struggling to keep the wine down due to the night before – was wonderfully broken up by our first buffet of the tour. Lunching at the Spier Wine Farm was undoubtedly the best culinary experience of the tour, savouring unique African specialties such as springbok sausages. Authentic African musicians accompanied the meal which was simply extraordinary. Some lucky members (and also one unlucky member – Liam) also received African face painting whilst enjoying the electric atmosphere. One final winelands tour preceded the touring party moving in to the Protea Hotel Stellenbosch, a stunning hotel that provided the pool that we were long awaiting. An evening of pool rugby and one-hand-one-bounce, rudely ended by Cooper caving under pressure and launching the ball into a nearby pond, entailed that the UWMCC enjoyed the first early night’s sleep of tour.
DotD – Oli Denne for his antics the night before.
Day 5 – Golf and Match 2 vs Maties Cricket Club
Whilst the other 9 members enjoyed their first lie-in of the tour, Liam, Denne, Jewson, Chobbs, Wells and Root made their way to Stellenbosch Golf Club for an impromptu morning 9 holes. Whilst the quality of golf on display was similar to Happy Gilmore in his early career, the astounding views most certainly made up for it. Root came out as the eventual winner of the 6, with Liam and Chobbs sending many golf balls into the depths of the Stellenbosch winelands. On return to the hotel, the sloth-like sleeping patterns of Jonny Hall was revealed, being woken up by the return of people who had already played a round of golf that morning. UWMCC managed to fit in another quick game of pool rugby and a very rushed lunch before heading to Stellenbosch University for the second match of tour. UWMCC, captained by Barclay, batted first in the 30 over match played under yet another picturesque mountain. Openers Hall and Barclay got the club off to a Boycott-like start, scoring 50 off the first half of the innings. Hall’s departure (6 off 32 balls) brought Thornley to the crease, who instantly dominated the bowling with some clean hitting, including the first 6 of tour over the sidescreen. Unfortunately his innings was brought to an early end, demonstrating his fidelity to Kevin Pietersen by getting caught at point playing a switch hit, much to UWMCC’s disgust. Wickets began to fall as the middle order tried to accelerate, with Barclay running himself out on 49 (bottler). UWMCC reached a below par 135-8 from the 30 overs, a worrying total given that a Maties fielder had already stated that they would chase anything. And so they would. Kraus got the bowling off to a good start, bowling great areas and combining with Liam behind the stumps to get an early stumping. Naturally, the skipper’s decision to take off Kraus at this point was a stroke of genius, with Farid going for 25 off his first over. The rest of the innings consisted of the UWMCC enjoying watching a different class of batting, with a mixture of brutal hitting and perfect placement showing us what it really means to put on a batting display. A consolation wicket from Farid was well deserved, recovering remarkably from his first over. Maties managed to reach 138-2 from only 18 overs. Again, it was an unforgettable experience, aided by the fact that it was officiated by a first class umpire, who was the fourth official in the Newlands test between Australia and South Africa a couple of weeks before (much to Hall’s delight, who proceeded to quiz him on every controversial cricket rule that he could think of). The two teams enjoyed a post-match meal and beers, concluded by a competitive and highly enjoyable mixed game of touch rugby. The Maties players proved to be great lads, definitely a tour highlight.
MotM – David Barclay for his 49, despite a questionable pre-game team-talk.
DotD – Jack Jewson for matching the colour of the DotD dress in his sunburnt face.
Day 6 – Free Day: Table Mountain, Boulders Bay and Stellenbosch University Night Out
Due to a last minute change to the itinerary, Friday ended up being a valuable free day which most would argue is up there as one of the best days on tour. It began with us being able to recover the lost opportunity to visit Table Mountain, travelling up the cable car in gorgeous weather. The morning was spent enjoying the spectacular views the mountain had to offer, presenting Kraus with the opportunity to exercise his new profession as club photographer. Every 10 yards the group moved provided another incredible view, allowing for many profile and cover photos to be created. After refreshing ourselves at the Terrace Bar at the top of the mountain (nice coincidence), and once Bradshaw had decided to stop enjoying the views and play Pokémon on his phone, the crew made our way down to the bottom to meet Andrew. Liam, after discussion with a local tour guide, made the controversial decision to travel to Boulders Bay rather than Camps Bay, in an attempt to see penguins whilst also visiting a beach. A decision that did not go down well with the more hormonal members of the squad, the hour long journey created friction amongst the group as people solely thought about the hunger in their stomachs, rather than the stunning views outside the window as Andrew drove us around the coast of South Africa. The majority of the club recovered quickly from their grumpy journey due to a fantastic meal overlooking the beach, Bradshaw and Cooper devouring seafood platters by themselves. The UWMCC then moved onto the beach, deciding against paying the entry fee to go into the penguin reserve. This proved to be an exceptional decision, with the penguins actually swimming onto the beach, enabling Jewson and Wells to ‘swim’ with them. With the exception of Denne and Thornley, who wanted to stare at a completely different type of bird on the beach, the tourists loved spending the afternoon chilling with the penguins in their natural habitat. Arguably the highlight of the day, however, came about by accident in the university town of Stellenbosch. What was supposed to be a quiet pre-Newlands meal rapidly escalated into the best night on tour, with a player from the opposition Stellenbosch team seeing us sitting at the restaurant and quickly introducing us to their drinking songs. Consequently, UWMCC brought in Jewson’s birthday with a bang, spending Friday night partying with the students of Stellenbosch University.
DotD – Jacob Sargeant for being outrageously late to almost everything.
Day 7 – Newlands
The seventh day marks the highlight of tour: playing at Newlands. The hung-over group entered the stadium in awe, still incredulous with the fact that we were going to be playing where South Africa and Australia had been battling it out days before. Unfortunately due to one of the opposition sides deciding not to turn up, and the forecast of rain for the next day, it was decided that only two matches would be played over the day. This meant that the UWMCC would be playing against the University of Western Cape and the University of Cape Town, the latter being under lights. The first team, playing in coloured kit because of the use of a white ball, was led out to field by captain Bradshaw. All eleven were exceptionally pumped walking out towards the international scoreboard that was alit with the teams names. This was magnified when Root steamed in for the first ball of the day, cleaning up their opening batsman with an in-swinging yorker. Unfortunately, in terms of the result, it all went downhill from there, with the opposition captain dismantling the UWMCC bowlers with ease. Behardien, another first class player, took exceptional liking to Wells, playing all sorts of switch hits and Dil-scoops on his way to scoring a devastating half-century. Despite this, spirits stayed high amongst the team, cherishing every wicket that the individual bowlers could say they took at Newlands stadium – a particular shout out to Thornley who bowled a fantastic final over, cleaning up three of their batsmen. Western Cape finished on 214-8 off their 20 overs, a total that was always going to be too much for our batsmen. The UWMCC crumbled to a mere 73 all out, with each batsman thoroughly enjoying the experience of facing quick bowlers on such a famous wicket. Bradshaw can hold his head high has the first UWMCC batsman to ever hit a six at Newlands, hooking a bouncer down to fine leg, moments after creaming an Ian Bell cover drive for four. For many, their batting innings ended with the sight of their stumps cartwheeling out of the ground, Kraus particularly so off of his first ball. After a luxurious lunch in the same room as where our cricketing idols eat, Liam led the UWMCC out to field under lights against CTU. The feel of playing in a stadium under floodlights is one that we will never forget, Chobbs stating that “this is one of the best days of my life” as we walked off. The UWMCC’s bowling performance was greatly improved second time round, and had we fielded better and been able to catch we would have been able to restrict CTU to much less than the 195-3 that they achieved. Whilst Hall and Wells were impressive, special mentions have to go out to Chobbs and Maneka who both bowled brilliantly throughout and took a great catch each. Batting second, openers Liam and Howe struggled to get bat on ball, outclassed by the pace and movement of the CTU fast bowlers. Liam, after nailing a sweep for four, looked to gather some momentum, getting bowled leg stump in the process. Rooty coming in at 3 looked comfortable, playing some nice shots against high class bowlers. Once the top 3 were out, Denne and Jewson met in the middle of Newlands, a moment that I am sure will forever linger in their bromance memories. The moment of the day came from Thornley, coming down the wicket against the CTU opening bowler, smashing him for a huge six down the ground. The outstanding shot, easily the best of tour, naturally resulted in a peppering of short balls, all of which were dealt with impressively. Thornley and Jewson walked off unbeaten after the 20 overs, Jewson particularly proud of his 14*, a new personal UWMCC high score. UWMCC can be proud of our resilience in reaching 110-5 off of the 20 overs, especially when facing the express bowling of Strang, yet another first class player who was bowling quicker than any of us had faced before. Once the cricket was over and the floodlights had been turned off the touring squad relished sitting on the field, beer in hand, reflecting on the incredible experience. Once we were reluctantly dragged away from the ground all that was left was for Jewson’s big birthday dinner, at the local McDonalds.
MotM 1 – Oli Thornley for his exceptional final over.
MotM 2 – Connor Hobbs for an extremely impressive bowling spell, matched by a great catch at the end of the innings.
DotD – Jonny Bradshaw for getting lost with Howe during the night in Stellenbosch, creating panic for everyone else and almost making them go back to the hotel in search of them.
Day 8 – Casino and Beach
By day 8 the UWMCC were fundamentally disagreeing with Toto: we really weren’t blessing the rain down in Africa. With the second day of Newlands cancelled due to the weather forecast, the touring squad had to find a form of indoor entertainment for the day. Based on suggestions from both Andrew and the tour company, we made our way to the Grand West Casino, a huge complex of restaurants, bars, arcades and, of course, a casino. Whilst Bradshaw defeated the rest of the squad in an outrageously competitive tenpin bowling match, Chobbs, Denne, Root and Farid ventured into the money factory – Denne lost close to £100 (of course) whilst Chobbs managed to come out with around £250. Once boredom hit, the tourists managed to take advantage of the late afternoon sun to go to the beach. Once there, we were hit by one of the most astonishing views we have ever seen; looking at the setting sun over the ocean, directly opposite Table Mountain. Beers on the beach combined with a quick game of touch rugby to provide the perfect afternoon compared to the miserable weather of the morning.
DotD – Jacob Sargeant for not realising he had improbably won a large amount of money whilst playing roulette, and for general poor chat.
Day 9 – Indoor Cricket and Circle
Monday proved to be another disappointingly rainy day, entailing that our final match of tour was also cancelled. Thus, our last resort was hiring an indoor cricket centre, similar to that of the cov indoor league, where we could entertain ourselves with an inter-squad indoor match. In what turned out to be a strangely competitive 2-innings match (Jewson genuinely appealed for someone to be out for handling the ball when the batsman was giving the ball back to the bowler), Thornley’s VII triumphed over Root’s VII. After dining at the local university pub, we headed back to Long Street where we had our tour circle in The Dubliner. The Dubliner proved to be the ideal venue for holding a circle, boasting songs that Disco Dave would be proud of.
DotD – Jonny Hall for reaching an appalling state the night before, wetting himself and having to walk around the next day covered in graffiti written on him after collapsing on his bed.
Day 10 – Inverdoorn Game Reserve
The last major event of tour saw the UWMCC make the long journey to the Inverdoorn Game Reserve for a South African safari. After yet another delayed departure (Liam, the tour sec, woke up at 9:30 for a 9am departure) the tourists arrived at the remote hotel just in time to enjoy a unique buffet lunch. The hotel – a quaint little community in the middle of nature – was divided into little huts, providing a home-like feel to the visit. Deciding not to brave the freezing cold pool, some members decided to explore the surroundings with many irrational fears of spiders becoming evident; Bradshaw breaking Usain Bolt’s record fleeing from a golf ball sized arachnid. Jewson proved his psychic abilities asking Chobbs “what would you do if we turned this corner and there was a rhino staring at us?” before actually turning the corner and being face to face with two penned in rhinos. After having complimentary tea and cakes the group embarked on their first safari, under the fascinating guidance of Erica who had clearly taken a liking to Kraus early on. Amongst the animals witnessed in the first journey into the reserve were: springbok, antelope, buffalo, ostrich, tortoise, zebra, giraffe and elephants. The first safari finished with a visit to the special cheetah reserve, where we were fortunate to see the feeding of five of the majestic cats. On return, the group relished a 4-course dinner by the fireplace, before heading off to one of the huts to carry out a small awards night. This provided the opportunity for the group to thank Andrew the driver for all of his extra efforts throughout the trip, as well as recognise the achievements of the man of the matches. Liam also rewarded Hall and Denne for their individual contributions to the tour, as well as Kraus for having the best chat on tour (chope). Following this, the group had time to reminisce on the whole trip, voting for the Twat of the Tour. Despite very strong candidates in the shape of Hall and Denne, Root came out as winner of the prestigious award by one vote.
DotD – Connor Hobbs for exchanging saliva with someone who was trying to pick-pocket him at the time.
TotT – Jacob Sargeant, largely due to his excruciatingly poor chat for the duration of tour.
Day 11 – Morning Safari, Shopping and Journey Home
The final day of tour began with a 6:30am game drive. In the cold drizzle, the 15 men huddled under blankets in search of more big animals. The long pursuit of hippos proved to be in vain, with very little happening in the first hour of the journey. The disappointment in this was more than made up for by our encounter with a wild cheetah, who strolled next to the vehicle. This was further enhanced by the spectacle of a family of wild rhinos, where we were fortunate to actually see two of them face off in what almost resulted in one charging at the other. From there, we moved onto the separate lion reserve, where the huge cats were isolated due to being too dangerous to be kept in the same area as the others. Because of these dangers we had to keep our distance from the huge beasts, but got a great view of them nonetheless. Satisfied with what we had just viewed, the touring squad were delighted to return to the hotel where we were welcomed by a hot fire and breakfast. On leaving our final hotel Andrew took us to the largest shopping centre in the country, where many last minute souvenirs were purchased (a stupendous amount of South African stash was to be brought back to England). A long game of airport one-hand-one-bounce was hurriedly brought to an end with the realisation that our flight was two hours earlier than expected, resulting in a frantic transit from check-in to boarding of the plane. A rather uneventful and surprisingly quick plane journey home sadly entailed that the tour was over.
International tour is something that we cannot recommend strongly enough. South Africa 2014 was simply an amazing couple of weeks, the only downer being the weather’s intervention in the amount of cricket played, and the very real safety issue created by the sheer volume of beggars on the streets of Cape Town. A huge thank you has to be extended to Gullivers Sports Travel and Footprint Sports Travel for organising such an incredible itinerary for us. We are extremely grateful for the opportunities they gave us, particularly that of playing at Newlands. Similarly, we are massively indebted to Andrew, who constantly went beyond his duty to ensure we had the best time possible, such as volunteering to go and buy us beers for after matches. Finally, I would like to thank the other 14 tourists who decided to invest in such a great trip, without whom none of this would have been possible. Cheers for the memories lads.