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Friday 2nd May. Eight Ash Green.
After about a billion cry offs and some late running lift nervousness (next year let's tell Steve that we have a 2pm game on the Friday, so he gets there in time for a 5.30 start) 11 Superstars arrived in Eight Ash Green, just outside Colchester, in time for the first game of tour. After a bit of worry the conditions were dry but cold - not ideal for spectating so the scribe wandered across to the pub over the road, mixing with Dutch Mini enthusiasts and friendly locals. It appears EAG batted first and after initially struggling Superstars got ourselves back into the game via a mixture of good bowling (Alok and Vijay starring), good catching (Merv and Adam), total committment in the field (Steve heading the ball on the boundary for instance) and find a few players in their batting line up that were more of our standard. With some lusty blows at the end EAG made a good looking 140 on a slow pitch. In response we were always a bit behind but never completely out of it but the highlight was some excellent lower order hitting by Harish which took us to a creditable 126 and a loss by 14.
Tour 2014
Most people decided to chill in the pavillon and then hotel bar on the first night of tour knowing we are not as young as we used to be. Jason and Mike ventured out and found out what kind of person in habits Yates in Colchester on a Friday Night. I suspect they stood out slightly.
Saturday 3rd May. Twinstead.
Next was Twinstead, right in the heat of Constable Country (or to put it another way, a long from Colchester). Still the sun was trying to shine and the location was beautiful (although it was chilly for spectators with the tree lined ground). Paul was captain, lost the toss and was asked to bat. There were problems early on when loose horses were taken round the pitch (Henry Walker quite rightly pointing out they were naughty for going over the white line) and when Roy and Stency walked onto the property of a couple of loud dogs. Superstars amassed 240 with 50s from Gaught (dropped around 73 times), Walker and Priest and some lusty late order hitting from Gundry.
After an excellent tea Superstars emerged and, against all expectations, quite easily kept Twinstead at bay. Matt C unfortunately injured his finger but 7 people who can actually bowl did with Jim Owen and Steve Meyler starring with the ball. The later overs did drag but thankfully we got the last man before there was a call for the heavy artillary. The game was also notable as the first where Oliver had watched his dad in action. He seemed fine during the batting but cried and screamed through dad's fielding stint. Obviously a connoisseur of good cricket already. He had however seen a win by 156 runs, possibly our biggest on tour ever.
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So bouyed by a great victory the Superstars enjoyed an evening out in the stylish surrounds of Colchester on a Saturday evening. Most would consider this akin to Venice in the summer or Paris in the spring. All that can be really written here is the unusual habit some locals had of watering hotel windows and that if anyone needs to sit on the pavement of Colchester High Street they should head home rather than phone "Shaun".
Sunday 4th May. Star Wars Day. Bures.
Superstars arrived in the world's greatest county for their 3 match of tour against Bures. It was a beautiful day on a beautiful ground which meant one could walk for 30 seconds and end up in another county (but why would you wish to leave Suffolk?). We batted first and Rick scored a jug avoiding 48 while Will reached a second 50 retired of tour. We seemed set for a good score but Vijay's tour record 50 from 39 balls made it a more imposing 231. Your scribe left the game just a Simon G took his and our first wicket making the score 72-1. I informed Poppy (who was at the swings) it was close but we might be slightly behind. What i didn't know was Simon G had turned, Incredible Hulk-style into a new angry man who took four further wickets for no runs in a stunning spell leaving him with the 3rd best Superstars bowling figures of 4-3-4-5. This tore the heart out of Bures' batting and we chipped away at the tail, including a cracking direct hit from the boundary by Rick Smith, to leave them all out for 96. A highly successful day, the highlight of course being the lemon cake available at tea (Sorry Simon but it was) and we left wonderful Suffolk in good heart.
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The evening involved laughing at muppets in The Playhouse, Colchester's premier Wetherspoons. And I mean both meanings of muppet.
Monday 5th May. Halstead. "The Old Foes"
To understand this game we need to go back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. A young, promising cricketer was starring for and then captaining Earls Colne Under 14s and 16s for 8 years. The most regular opponents were local market town Halstead who ritually slaughtered the plucky villagers who did silly things like play 8 year olds in a U14s match. And i mean slaughtered. Now that boy cricketer returned a man cricketer hell bent on revenge* - it was like the plot of a film. A bad one but a film nevertheless.
After a successful lunch in Chappell (by the viaduct) where we found out that that the squad were facinated by a toy that 3 month old Oliver had grown out of the team headed to Halstead and saw a great looking wicket, sponsorship boards and Jim Owen sober. All of these suggested a loss was on the cards but Jim showed confidence and elected to bat first in a timed game. While Paul may have got his top innings v Halstead (9) the key contributions were from Jim 30no, Neil 33 and extras 39. It was a good innings of 185 with everyone contributing something to the cause. What was to follow will become part of Superstars folklore as in the third over of the game Alok Singh took three wickets (without ever being on a hat trick) to rip the heart out of the Halstead batting. We kept chipping away with great catches by Adam and Rick and a direct hit by Alok himself but Halstead had an ace up their sleeve in the form of an Essex 2XI batsman, batting at number 11. This was a very sporting decision by Halstead which made for an exciting finish as he plundered our bowling but with only one wicket left. The crowd were biting their nails and the Alok bowled the genuine tailender to complete a famous victory for all time Superstars best figures of 8.5-3-34-6. Great credit to both sides, especially Halstead for making it such an interesting game but keeping their best player down to number 11.
*OK OK poetic licence but hey
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A really enjoyable tour. The rare feat of a winning tour but most importantly fun was had and friends in the beautiful wilds of Colchester were made.
Tour Party
Playing: Barry Gigg (c) Paul Gaught, Matthew Conway, Richard Abigail, Vijay Anand, Rob Fox, Simon Gundry, Jason Marchant, Phil McBarron, Steve Meyler, Jim Owen, Alok Singh, Neil Priest, Adam Spencer, Mike Taylor, Mike Kamellard, Roy Varghese, Harish Kumar, Merv Aranha, Rick Smith, Will Walker.
Loyal Fans and junior side: Mary, Penny, Oliver, Bernie, Marion, Mitra (excellent camerawork), Aru, Stency, Sian, Anna, Elina, Franca, Poppy and Henry.
Player of the Tour: To be announced
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2014 Constable Country Tour
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