2019 Tour to Sofia
Tour Game #1 – NCACC Sofia
- Salix – 181 for 7 (Darling 44)
- NCACC Sofia – 291 for 6 (Sai 7-0-44-3)
Tour Game #2 – NCACC Sofia
- Salix – 208 for 9 (Yov 50)
- NCACC Sofia – 246 for 2
Monty the Red Barrons Report :
And so the lads travelled to Bulgaria, home to the world’s oldest Slavic orthodox church, the famed rose valley and world renowned high-jumper Stefka Kostadinova. We arrived in dribs and drabs. An advanced party flew in on Tuesday to take in some of the country and the rest followed on Thursday and Friday.
We stayed at the delightful Scotty’s Boutique Hotel and on Friday evening gathered together for roasted meats, much talk
of tours gone by and a beer. Yesterday’s Man explained the Dunning-Kruger effect*, with multiple glances at Monty, Tim
discovered that using English idioms in every sentence makes ordering a little bit harder. At length the talk turned to
cricket. We knew the oppo had a good reputation, and our success on tour is often less-than-impressive. However, 2019
has seen an uptick in our fortunes, so who knew what might be possible.
The first game:
Saturday saw us take a convoy of taxis to the national sporting academy on the outskirts of Sofia. The pitch doubled up as
a golf driving range with a concrete wicket with overlay. Flat and fast, with short boundaries, it looked like a high-scoring
opportunity. The weather was hot with the promise of hotter to come. The absence of clouds allowed us to gaze upon
the delightful mountains which ring the city.
The oppo arrived, a mixture of sub-continent expats and keen Bulgarians. Delightful chaps, and excellent cricketers, they
were a pleasure to meet. As is tradition we had bought a special piece of Salix kit for the tour. This year they were old style cloth caps (please see team photo). Really pretty to look upon, the lined wool was perhaps a little too warm as the
thermometer nudged 33.
Following the toss Captain Padders put us in the field (tour tradition to try and ensure the oppo get a full game). Things
began uncharacteristically well for the mighty Salix. Our fielding was pretty hot (just like our players boom boom) and
the bowling was threatening. Sai bowled very nicely and was soon in the wickets, with Padders also contributing at the
other end (well, same end really, as we only bowled one way, but you know what I mean). Pretty soon we had the oppo
55-3. Those who follow Salix CC closely will know this as the false dawn of hope phenomenon; that moment when we
play well for 10 overs and begin to believe, only to see our hopes cruelly dashed. So it proved to be. Two fine (very fine
really) middle order oppo put on a stand which will live long in our memories. Early on there were chances, a fewcatchable balls which were either put down, or fell safe, but as time passed the pair looked about as likely to move as Tim at a wine-tasting. Bowler after bowler watched their figures be mangled until, finally, the partnership was broken!
Once we got amongst the tail things began to improve. Dills bowled some great spin, but for a while looked like it would
be unrewarded. In the end our first 10 overs, and last 15, were rather good. The damage was done in the middle and as
we walked of for, er, tea**, we knew we had allowed the target to grown fearsomely large.
Nevertheless, we’re nothing if not ambitious, and out strode our batting partnership of Yov and Dozy (the size differential
reminding me a bit of when premiership footballers walk out accompanied by a school kid). Both made good starts,
batting well and scoring fast. Then madness descended trying to up the run-rate Yov skipped down the track, missed
the cherry, and had his furniture re-arranged, whilst at the other end Dozy was LBW playing across the line. The oppo had
reacted to the loss of early wickets with a middle order partnership which had made 140+. Our answer to this was Arsey
and Daveski, which is a bit like stopping a road roller with a bit of string. Daveski came and went, as did Padders. Arsey
was something of a bright-spot, playing some swashbuckling shots to reach 44 until he too was caught and bowled. The
tail followed, with Sudhir being a real highlight (why doesn’t he bat higher?), but it was not to be. In the end we were 90
The second game:
After a fun (but by our standards sedate) evening, the boys were back bright an early. The absence of hangovers, missing
phones and strange bruises lent the second game a strange feel. Was this what proper cricketers felt like? The second day
would be a T20. Your correspondent was lent to the oppo, and the scene was set, again with Salix in the field first. Day
two was a, slightly uglier, replay of day 1. Early wickets bought a middle order partnership and well, that was about it.
Dills and Sai did for the openers, and just as things looked bright the next men in started to crash it around, and never
stopped. True, Deeps missed out on a hard chance, but that aside Salix had less chance of taking a wicket that Dozy has
of playing basketball. 246 was the target, and it was a monster (and more than 50 above what we’d managed in 35
overs the day before).
Into bat came Salix, knowing they needed a massive 13 an over and started to knock it off. Fielding at point I had a birds
eye view as Yov, and a returning Deeps, scored with abandon, making batting look both easy and sublime. I must make a
confession at this point. I’ve known Deeps for 4 years, and he is a delightful fellow, but due to injury I’ve never seen
him play. In my mind his playing style matched his personality. Gentle, gentlemanly and reserved. It isn’t. He hit 44 in
less time than it takes The Nurdler to recite the atomic weight of hydrogen and, with Yov at the other end absolutely
crashing it around, we were above the run rate and looking very, very good.
In the end though all good things must come to an end and our battling heroes were both dismissed. Following a cameo
from Tim, Davski tried to push us on, but scoreboard pressure began to tell, inducing, by necessity, aggressive shots. A
couple of catches later (Arsey the other victim, having not matched his first-day heroics) and it was the tail again, with the
required run rate now nudging 20. Your correspondent was bought on to finish things up, and took Dozy’s wicket. And
that will be the last time that is ever mentioned. The Nurdler and Big Al were able to add a few, but it wasn’t enough,
and once again we fell short.
However, on both days, we batted and bowled well. Sometime we’re crap, and get our just desserts. On this tour though
we were, ya know, kinda good really. Just outclassed (and happy to be so by such a pleasant opposition). Well played by
all, we look forward to the rest of the season, and anticipate our next tour. Special thanks to Smutty for all his
organisation, everything was grand.
*In essence incompetent people think they’re more competent than they are. For an example listen to Daveski dissect
why he just lost his wicket.
**Mainly croissants with a creamy filling. Not favoured by Padders.