2018 Tour to Montenegro
Tour Game #1 – Montenegro Bocaneers
- Salix – 138 all out (Padmore 66)
- Montenegro Bocaneers – 223 for 8 (Dills 7-0-40-3)
Tour Game #2 – Montenegro Bocaneers
- Salix – 147 for 7 (Sudhir 29 not out)
- Eymet – 102 for 9 (Padmore 4-0-17-3)
The build up:
And so to Montenegro we flew, with a few of the lads coming overland from Croatia. As far as locations go you couldn’t
ask for more. Our hotel looked onto a gleaming seafront, scattered with bistros and bars. Above a cloudless sky beamed
warming rays of sun onto an azure Adriatic, whilst mountains which would not disgrace the Alps framed the view.
After settling in a few of the boys donned their swimmers and went for a dip, as milky-white bodies met the blue waters,
until a representative of the Montenegrin tourist board said we were bad for their trip advisor rating and asked us to go
Our team was 10 men (the title of “men” having been agreed after a thorough inspection of Dozy by the anthropological
department of Podgorica University). Added to old faces (Dozy, Dills (c), Padders, Monty, Daveski, Arsey, Tim & Jehan) were two new ones, Kiran and Sudhir, the former looking forward to his first game, the latter his first for 40 years. As ever Steve O provided scoring and light relief.
With three players vegetarian, dinner was held in a meat restaurant. At peak time our orders took a while to arrive, but we
were not dismayed. Our attention was instead drawn to the guitarist, who had the rare talent of being able to render any
well-known song in a manner so different from the original it was hard to tell what was being played. A game ensued,
which saw half a dozen heads craned towards the speakers, followed by a lively discussion as to whether the current tune
was “You wear it well”, “Bohemian rhapsody” or “The International”. Possibly it was all three.
Post dinner the usual vivacious night out ensued. We found a lovely bar with live music, much to Padders delight this
included a number of Ed Sheeran covers – he is truly the Dylan of our generation (Ed, not Padders). As the night got long
and the drinks even longer, things became very friendly. My beard was tugged, literally and metaphorically and Tim found
a tambourine. Bed beckoned in the small hours…
The first game:
The day dawned bright and early. The team did not. Arsey was probably in worst repair, doing a credible impression of a
reanimated corpse, but the rest of us weren’t far behind. The ground was beautifully situated in a valley about 15km from
Tivat, with a rollout wicket on an Astroturf. Bounce was variable, but not unplayable. The weather was hot, but a sea
breeze provided some relief.
The oppo batted first. They scored freely, making the best of the short boundaries, but we managed to take a few wickets.
Behind the stumps the “definitely human” Dozy kept well. The third wicket fell to the third catch and things looked evenly
balanced, until Monty put the mockers on the whole thing by pointing out we’d so far taken 3 for 3.
There is a saying in cricket “catches win matches…”. It could well continue “…and inept buffoons loose them”. Having held all our chances things fell apart, as 4 decent opportunities were put down. This was no disgrace to the bowlers. Padders found a lovely rhythm, Dills conjured up some impressive turn, with Sudhir and Adam also proving economical. But that many mistakes will be punished, and the score started to climb alarmingly. By the time Kiran took a blinder on the ropes to remind us how cricket was supposed to be played the damage was done, and we were looking down the wrong end of 223. “How many do you think we could have defended?” some wit enquired at lunch.
Nevertheless we gamely took up the bat. Maybe, with a couple of big stands, we could chase it down. Daveski started
very well, with two boundaries of his first 4 balls. Unfortunately, having misunderstood the phrase “the thrill is in the
chase” he then chased a ball well outside off-stump straight to a fielder. In depressing, and familiar style, almost everyone
else in the team came and went without making double figures The one bright spot in all this was Padders. Having found his mojo he was in rare touch, standing tall under the Mediterranean sun, his rugged features shaded by his Kent CC hat, he was master of all he surveyed. Having come dangerously close to cheating by having the temerity to “play himself in” he knocked it all over the park. Unfortunately he was unable to impart his technique to his teammates. With shame I must recall this exchange as I walked out to bat:
Padders: Right, nothing silly now Monty. Monty: Gottcha.
P: Plenty of overs to go, no need to rush. M: With you.
P: Keep me backed up and I can get there, but for Lords sake don’t do anything silly. M: As you say.
P: Nice straight bat, yeah?
I was out heaving across the line 3 balls later. When Padders was caught on 66, we were almost 100 short. Even the patient batting of Kiran, worthy of a far more experienced player, couldn’t save us. Still, a good game was had by all, and an even better evening followed (for everyone who wasn’t a Liverpool fan) as the oppo accompanied us to a slap-up dinner.
The second game:
Sunday bought a T20 matchup. With our big hitters and lack of patience, this might well be our form. We still managed to
run it close though. A reversal on the previous day we batted first. Jehan, Daveski and Padders all made respectable
contributions. True there were still the usual comically-bad moment (Monty ran out Kiran, Daveski ran out himself and
Arsey ran out of luck) but with everyone chipping in a few runs we started to build a modest total. Still, something more
was needed. With plenty off overs to spare we were down to the tail, with around 90 on the board. We thought we needed
at least 120 and were guided there in some style by Sudhir who played a magnificent (player of the tournament) knock to
add more than 40 for the 9th wicket. In the end we had 147 to defend. However, we knew from the previous day the oppo
batted big and batted long, so we would need to be at our best in the field.
After tea Dills and Arsey got us going, both playing nicely and starting to build the pressure as the required scoring rate
started to climb. Wickets came from time to time and by drinks it was finely balance. Special mention to Smutty for
disdaining the normal “catch it in front of your face” technique for the less known, but equally successful “take it 3 feet
above your head” method.
As we entered the second half of the innings the oppo needed 10 an over, but our best bowlers were running short of
overs and some credible batsmen were still to come. Things continued on a knife edge. Big swings kept the oppo at the
required run rate and we put down a couple of chances. We started to fear that we would throw what had seemed a great
position to push for victory.
Fortunately it was not to be. Stepped forward the hero of day 1 to find the break, Padders conjuring a little magic and
Dozy taking a tough chance behind to remove the last of the danger men. From then on it was regulation and we were
home by a comfortable margin.
A grand victory and a great feeling, one which we’d all waited far to long to feel.
All told a magnificent tour. Great place, people and food. A special thank you to Ellis for organising even when he couldn’t
attend. Can’t wait to see our sunhats and an extra special thanks to everyone in Montenegro for showing us a great time
and some fantastic cricket.