The year is 1992 and a small, provincial cricket club in Winterthur, Switzerland, (imaginatively named Winterthur Cricket Club – or WCC for short) travelled to the mountains of Zuoz to take part in an international cricket tournament hosted by the exclusive private school Lyceum Alpinum.
They came back stuffed full of great memories, new friendships, sore heads and ludicrously tall tales of cricketing exploits – but no trophy. This pattern has been repeated 17 times in the
intervening period – until 2015.
Because this year, by Jove, we actually won! And here’s how….
The team arrived punctually on Friday afternoon, resplendent in matching club blazers and ties, showing that they meant business. They were all tucked up in bed by 9pm with a mug of cocoa (except John Hallam who turned in at 8pm and thought cocoa was a bit racy).
Alcohol was strictly forbidden throughout the weekend, but for most squad members it was unnecessary to enforce a sex ban.
Undaunted by the steady rain on Saturday morning, team fitness coach Scott Le Page was up at 5am for his customary 20km jog. After consuming a low-fat grapefruit for breakfast, Scott was soon at the ground leading the team through a demanding warm-up routine, barking out instructions like a sergeant-major.
The growing crowd of admiring locals were later amazed that so many players were either unfit for the final on Sunday or barely able to limp onto the field.
The rain lifted as opening batsmen Matt Allen & Rahul Khandelwal strode out to launch the first blows for WCC. An opening partnership of 19 set the foundations for a tasty score of 185-7. Having out-boundaried Rahul during their stand, Matt was particularly unlucky to miss a straight one and be bowled for a solid nine (third highest score of the innings).
Taking his cue from the mild-mannered club secretary, Rahul soon lost his inhibitions and batted with increasing fluency and maturity. He was given stout support from skipper Tom Mampilly (35 –
2x6, 2x4) but looked to be running out of time when he was joined by Prafull Shikare with two balls of the innings remaining.
Despite urgent howls from Rohit Grover and John on the boundary to leave Rahul stranded on 99, Prafull clipped a single to allow Rahul to complete an unbeaten 100 (3x6, 8x4) and carry his bat throughout the innings.
Winterthur’s bowling quartet of Rahul, Pradeep Fernando, Roushan Singh and Pip Kirkpatrick were a bit hot for the students to set about chasing the 186 target down. But it was left to the part-time bowling of Shay Zala (3-18), Matt Allen (1-25 deserved more, you know what I mean John & Clive) & Rajesh Singh (1-8) to cause the greatest damage.
Lyceum batted out the overs for a respectable 117 for 8 and WCC was past the first post.
The second match proved a more feisty affair but WCC was seen home by a splendid 77 from Prafull and a four wicket haul from Pip, backed up by a spirited team performance.
Having won the toss, Tom opted to bat first only to see Roushan dismissed for a duck. But a second wicket stand of 47 between Praf and Rohit Grover settled the nerves until Rohit twisted his knee
and had to retire hurt on 23 (4x4).
Praf did not let that set-back put him off, striking eight fours and four sixes in an impressive half-century. Raj (14no), Rahul (21) & Tom (15) provided some kick in the tail to take WCC to 201-6.
There had already been a bit of niggle when Pip survived a caught behind appeal and the Munich innings provided a few more spirited moments between the teams. Roushan (2-21) launched the first blow by bowling Munich danger man Weston off an inside edge, and rattled a few more cages.
But bowling unchanged for six overs, it was Pip who ripped out the middle order with 4-33. There were some lusty Munich blows and one half-century, but wickets kept falling at crucial times for Winterthur. Munich eventually subsided to 158 all out, but the match was not safe until the final five overs.
Oh, to be blessed with natural athleticism and a decent work schedule, thought Matt on Sunday morning as Rohit (knee) and Paul Cooke (back) were forced out of the all-Swiss final along with Pip who had to fly to the US for work.
Skipper Tom had some juggling to do to get a team out there and continued his impressive job throughout the match with both batting line-up and inspired bowling changes. He also won the toss and
elected to bat first.
This time, Roushan was determined to get some runs and duly delivered with a round 50 (1x6, 5x4) in a measured innings by his standards. Rahul made his mark again with the bat (as he did all tournament with the ball as well) in making 30 (1x6, 1x4).
Virtually everyone chipped in with the bat, but Vaibhav Singh added the extra impetus at the end (despite losing 10 & 11 Matt & Scott for ducks!) with a breezy 18 not out (2x4). A score of 155 from 29 overs was considered respectable, but perhaps a few runs short.
Some tight bowling by Rahul (1-12 in 5 overs), the willing work horse Pradeep (who bowled six overs straight for 2-21) and Roushan (4.4 overs 2-15) kept boundaries down. WCC were even treated to the rare sight of Vinay Kalia and Scott throwing themselves around in the field to save runs.
But Tom needed to shuffle his pack constantly to find the other 12 overs from less recognised bowlers. Enter Vaibhav who bowled a terrific set of six to record 2-28. Raj Singh (1-22) and Prafull (1-18) also stepped up to the mark when it mattered.
The drinks break came to our aid again as, first ball back, Tom took a smart catch standing up to the wicket to Raj to remove a top order batsman from a bottom edge. Praf also weighed in with a
direct hit run out. Practically every bowling change also seemed to provide a crucial wicket just when we needed it.
But just as the local farmers paraded around the ground in a fleet of tractors in honour of a great day’s cricket, it was Roushan who delivered the killing blow with one of his deftly disguised slower balls – clean bowled as Geneva slumped to 117 all out.
Cue muted and restrained celebrations as the heavens opened and it absolutely bucketed down.
On this day in 1992 (when WCC first participated in the Zuoz international tournament):
|6||Scott Le Page|
Tom Mampilly *+
|Scorers||John Hallam, Karl Walter|
Family Singh, Family Allen, Family Shikare, Veena Mampilly, Family Zala
You can read the report published in The Landbote and view photographs of the 2015 Zuoz Cricket Festival in the website gallery.