So I arrived for my first cricket match in the Czech Republic. The destination was surprisingly easy to find, through Vinor, a small village outside Prague, and there in the middle of the rolling Czech countryside a sight to bring cheer into the heart of every Englishman: men in white on a field throwing leather onto willow, hammering down the mat wicket and marking out the boundary adorned the hill side. Gloriously incongruous.
After the mat wicket had been prepared the game commenced; 40 over a side Vinohrady CC v Prague Barbarians CC. After a few overs the virgin surface began to settle though not before one young lad (Theo) fielding at a deep-ish gully got caught in the chops by a fast moving edged ball. Cue much blood, a broken tooth and a trip to hospital. Fortunately Theo was ok and is now able to join in any cricket related injury chat (mine- knocked out by a top edge off my own bat into my eye and a broken bone caused by a yorker). My first contribution to Czech cricket was to drop a skyer that went so far up in the air many on the internet believed they had spotted the missing Malaysian airliner..
Wickets for the Barbarians began to fall with regularity with one of their number (Navo) making a knock of 47 not out, entirely consisting of late dabs to backward point and running out his partner. Still it was a good effort and gave the Barbarians a fighting chance going into the drinks 121 for 5. In an effort to 'make a game of it', so as to, 'get in some batting practice' the Vinos decided to loosen things up by bowling the part-timers in order to help the Barbars get to 200. This instruction was obeyed to the letter and the Barbars were all out for 145. Fortunately it turned out..
I alongside Arshad opened the innings for the Vinos and immediately entered Chris Tavare mode dulling the Barbars with a series of forward defensive shots that barely took the ball off the wicket, in the end making 14 off 47 balls. A quick-fire 14 from Vojta (off 17 balls) put us in a good position of 44 for 2 after 12 overs. This soon became 45 for 3 before Brigham marched purposefully to the crease, where like a teenager at his first disco he waved his wood at everything coming his way. Some cracking shots, including a massive 6 over deep midwicket and it looked like the Vinos would be home at a canter. However, also like a teenage boy Brigham was out, all over before it really began. The Barbars cunning tactic of bowling very slowly and letting the wind move the ball was causing chaos in the Vino ranks, us slumping to 62 for 6 off 17 overs. However cometh the hour and cometh the man: Chris played an outstanding innings - ably supported (at the non-striker end) by Javed. After Chris retired on 51 with the Vinos needing 12 to win: Javed, who Chris had kept off strike for the majority of his innings - smacked a beauty off Gary for 6, only to perish 2 balls later. Chris then returned to the crease and was ably supported by the youngster Jody, who saw the Vinos home to victory by 1 wicket.
A great first game for the Vinos and a thoroughly enjoyable day.
MoM (Man of the Match): Jody, who as a young lad bowled superbly and saw us home deserves a mention, but for his match winning 58* off 55 balls, Chris has to be MoM.
PoM (Play of the match): Brigham's massive six is up there as is Vojta’s beauty which hit top of off stump but, for the team effort it has to go to the run out team of Robbo and Chris for the run out.
ToM (Twat of the match): has to go to me not just for dropping a skyer but forgetting the mat was not grass and scratching out my guard and thereby despoiling virgin territory.