WCC went on their customary annual tour to Lodi on May 3rd to the 5th. As with all WCC tours to Lodi, the expectation was high both for cricketing and non-cricketing reasons and the events of the
2 days certainly matched up.
On Saturday, the teams were treated to glorious sunshine and warm weather for the post noon start. The game was supposed to be a 40-over a side affair and WCC skipper, Raj, on winning the toss, elected to bat first. Swannie (a welcome return to the squad - hopefully he plays more games this season) and Tom opened the innings for WCC. Swannie returned early and Tom fell soon too (run out unfortunately after a mix-up) after a characteristically comfortable start that included a six over long on. Newcomer Ram played a good innings at No:3 while Raj fell soon at the other end. The stage was set for Raghu to play an experienced hand and he did not disappoint. Raghu played well, pinching the singles and twos and hitting the odd boundary as well. He paired well first with Ram and then with Hasta and Rehman. All the while, the Lodi bowlers were leaking extras which ended up as top scorer in the end and also dropped as many as 7 catches. Rehman played a quick innings of substance. The tail (Jiten, Andy, Phil, Urs) did not wag and we ended up at 163 all out. Credit must be given to Lodi's mystery bowler Mario whose gravity defying balls accounted for 4 WCC wickets.
Although the score wasnt high, although defendable. But what ensued was an high quality bowling effort that began with Hasta and Phil sharing the new ball. There was a marked difference in the control and while Hasta kept things tight, Phil picked up 2 wickets. The change bowlers, Jiten and Rehman bowled with great control and kept picking wickets regularly. Special mention must be made of Rehman, who made the ball talk with his swing and seam. Hasta came back for his second spelled and picked a wicket while Raj, Swannie and Ram also managed to bowl tight spells and also picked wickets. Every bowler on display bowled well and also got rewards in the form of wickets. However, the true star of this innings was our wicket-keeper Tom who took 5 catches, some of which were difficult efforts, apart from some stunning glovework behind the wicket. WCC were super sharp in the field and the fact that there was only one dropped catch (Jiten, the culprit) was a pleasant surprise to many.
The second game on sunday was a 30-over a side affair. WCC batted first again. There were a couple of changes to the WCC side with il presidento, John and master blaster Vinat coming into the side in place of Andy and Phil. The Lodi side had changed completed except for 2 players who were retained from saturday. John opened with Swannie and neither opener troubled the scorers much (1 each). What followed was slow procession with Ram and Raj too falling soon. Vinat and Raghu, however played responsibly and steadied the innings. The scoring rate was abysmal though. Raghu once again emerged as the top scorer while the rest of the batsmen following (Rehman, Hasta, Jiten, Tom, Urs) did not do anything of note. The innings ended at 81 all out. There were 2 or 3 impressive catches from the Lodi side and the bowling was streets better than the previous day.
The WCC bowling unit was charged up to defend the total and the fiery Swannie and the not-so-fiery Hasta opened the bowling for WCC. Swannie immediately struck and Rehman picked up a couple of wickets too when he replaced Hasta after only one over. Hasta came back to bowl and toiled hard with no reward but good control. With wickets from Swannie's second spell, Raj and Jiten - Lodi were in deep trouble at arund 50 for the loss of 7 wickets. Despite the occasional odd hit to or over the boundary, none of the Lodi batsmen settled to play a long innings. That would change when a 12 year old boy, Eddie came on and started frustrating the WCC bowling with his technique. Although he took a couple of blows to the body, he stood firm while two more wickets fell at the other end. Finally, it was a close run thing with the last wicket falling on 80 runs and WCC emerged victorious by one run.
All in all, the cricket part of the tour was a great success for WCC and while its bowling was always strong, they might have found reason to believe in their batting as well for the rest of the season.
Coming to the social part of the tour, there was an assassination attempt on Il Presidento, John Hallam en route to Lodi. Unnamed rival clubs have been named suspects but there is no clear evidence in this ghastly, although failed attempt. On reaching Lodi, the gang took to the streets enjoying the Italian atmosphere and hospitality. As the evening progressed and night became early morning, rumours abounded of an Italian waitress falling for handsome young lad who claims temporary amnesia about the incident. It is a tribute to the WCC players that although some of the players were not feeling that sharp at noon on the Saturday, they still managed to thrash the opposition. There was also a grand social dinner on Saturday, but it was less nefarious than the previous night. Special thanks must go out to the non-playing members and the lovely ladies who made up the touring party. Karl, Ray, Graham, Dänu, made up the non-lovely, non-playing part of the touring party. While the numerous “WAGS” (12 I believe) formed the lovely non-playing part of the touring party. A big thanks to Lodi for being gracious hosts again and to everyone who made this tour a success including the annoying tour reporter!