Monday, 27 September 2021

Suffolk Tour 2021 – Extracts from the Tour Manager’s Diary

Sunday 8th August

First major tour snafu. Davidson junior has fractured fibula. Davidson senior and new tourer Benji also out of the tour. Losing one tenth of touring party this close to the start requires a little rejigging and replanning.

Tuesday 10th August

Subject the tour WhatsApp group to a barrage of admin-based messages. About halfway through a message from Lynsey comes in:

Lynsey - “What chance of us using the pool do you think?”

Me – “Never fear, the school-based non-organised sport message is on the list, just not sent yet, bear with!!!”

Lynsey – “I thought you were finished but I see it was more of a pause and regroup”

Cue pause for reflection on whether 12 consecutive lengthy and detailed WhatsApp messages is really the best way to convey information to a large group of people spending four days in Suffolk. Dismiss thought as I had clearly committed to moving away from email as the route to disseminate information, recalling Shakespeare as I so often do in times of strife - “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” I’d even got David Lowen onto WhatsApp for crying out loud! Immediately regret dismissing thought as multiple questions come in about various pieces of admin, all of which were covered in the 12 consecutive lengthy and detailed WhatsApp messages.

Wednesday 11th August

Second major tour snafu. Hockerill cannot raise a team for Sunday. Consider an SOS for a new game on Sunday but then reflect on multiple messages warning of various body parts that may or may not hold up over the four days in addition to the section of the touring party lost to a fractured fibula. Decide not to take the gamble.

Thursday 12th August

It is a rare treat to wake up on a Thursday, load up the car with beer and cricket gear and drive to Suffolk. Excitement levels increase as various giddy tourists chip in on the WhatsApp group. Excitement levels decrease as Raki texts to say that he has missed not one but two trains. Hawkins puts on a brave face and waits at Ipswich station for an hour with Baxter. I never did hear what they got up to. Meanwhile the usual suspects arrive on time and I join them at the Station for a pint and some lunch.

This is now the second time I’ve attempted an intra-Mandarins game on Tour. Give teams Ed Sheeran-song based names to try and draw on some of The HundredTM spirit. Falls somewhat flat; it appears that knowledge of Ed Sheeran songs amongst Mandarins is lower than I anticipated. 112 from the A[rvind] Team feels a par score though this innings also includes third major tour snafu of Healey’s calf giving way and ruling him out of the game and further cricket on the tour. Arvind and Raki bat nicely, wickets are shared around. In reply only Gemma hits her straps while others fall around her; Galway Girl fall short, all out for 96.

Lovely to see Alice Hurst make her full debut for the Mandarins. Also lovely to enjoy JP and Helen’s wedding anniversary with some fizz and far too-delicious cake (these may have been a contributory factor to a sluggish run chase).

Fourth and fifth major snafus follow in quick succession, however. Give myself a corneal abrasion removing a contact lens, ruling myself out of further cricket on the tour. Then arrive at the curry house to find them claiming they have no record of a booking for 20 people on a Thursday evening. “Truly, thou art damned like an ill-roasted egg, all on one side” I curse to myself. Luckily, they are prepared to move some tables (and customers sitting on those tables) around to accommodate us. General consensus is that the controversial move from the Prince of India has been a (qualified) success. Make note to reconfirm booking a third time for next year.

Friday 13th August

Much of this day was a blur for me (literally and metaphorically) but thankfully weather is set fair. Quilibets are the usual blend of youth and experience. Batting first they get to 191 with Gemma and Hurst the two bowlers in the wickets. Based on yesterday’s game the score feels challenging. And so it comes to pass, with only Manian in the top order looking at all fluent, though a thoroughly enjoyable last wicket stand between JP and Martin takes the Mandarins score beyond 100 and to something approaching respectability.

Evening meal goes without a hitch and is the usual wonderful fare at the Station. Truly a highlight of the year. The Chairman is missed but Dan and Arvind (with the first tour speech given by a Mandarindian) speak in his stead; Dan seems to be hell bent on breaking the world record for number of eye-based puns. Blinding efforts all round, indeed.

Photo: Andy Heard

Saturday 14th August

Receive message in morning from Nick, skipper of the Quilibets. He is a man of few words and the email contains nothing but a link to a twitter status of a team looking for a game on Sunday. The team describe themselves as “average to weak”. I can’t help but wondering if there is a subtext here. But no, surely not and of course Shakespeare rides to the rescue again – “It's not enough to speak, but to speak true” and I would expect nothing less from a Master at Framlingham College.

Sadly, however, my prophecies about the prospects of raising a team for Sunday are accurate and there is no prospect of taking up Nick’s suggestion. One excuse includes a wife who is now expecting a Mandarin home earlier on Sunday and would be “disappointed” not to see him until the evening. I can’t help but wondering if there is a subtext here. Further exploration indicates “disappointed” actually means “incandescent with rage”. Re-ponder Nick’s email and my approach of selectively finding Shakespeare quotes to support my point of view on a given topic.

Today’s match has age as its theme. A different opposition this year at the familiar Saturday territory of Worlingworth – Chris Watson has kindly arranged for a combined Norfolk and Suffolk over-70s team to play us. Pitch and outfield has got better still since we were last here two years ago and Lowen and Harry put on a fluent opening partnership of 100. Much speculation that the age difference of 58 (I think) years must be some sort of Mandarins record. (Incidentally later in the game we have Josie and David fielding at the same time, meaning an age gap on the field of 64 years – again, cue much speculation if this has ever been exceeded.) Alice Hurst anchors the rest of the innings and Mandarins declare on 168. In response, Somerville partners host Chris for an excellent 50 partnership for the second wicket but there is little resistance thereafter, with Dan bowling well for his 4 wickets.

Werewolf in the evening is a strangely enjoyable experience as I don’t get lynched immediately – sympathy everyone quickly regrets as I am a werewolf in both games and enjoy a particularly vengeful killing spree. This won’t be forgotten and normal service will resume next year.

Sunday 15th August

That Sunday feeling as we’re done for another year, and no game to extend the tour into the evening. “I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is emulation; nor the musician's, which is fantastical; nor the courtier's, which is proud; nor the soldier's, which is ambitious; nor the lawyer's, which is politic; nor the lady's, which is nice; nor the lover's, which is all these: but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me in a most humorous sadness.”

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