Whaler’s tour 2014 – Malta
Channa Karunaratne (with apologies for lateness)
“On the other side of exhaustion is euphoria” – P. Luckett (Malta 2014)
We arrived on Friday to hot blistering sunshine and Mediterranean heat. With half the team arriving later that night, the advanced party (some of whom had a mid-afternoon nap) took to the streets of Malta. Pete (AKA Bunny) was in charge and we were soon sipping on our first cisk (local beer). We were joined by Steve (AKA Matt), one of Bunny’s mates, who is currently living in exile in Malta.
With the boys on top form we headed to Corks, which would be our regular for the next three nights. Steve was soon hitting on four quite annoyed looking Irish girls who gave him the cold shoulder. They finally had enough of his rubbish and told him to f-off. Naturally he did the honourable thing and stayed put until Kev stole his flip-flops and we escaped into the night. Somehow we managed to stay out till 3am (the rear-guard of the Whalers having gone straight to bed), which was perfect preparation for the Whaler’s 20th International fixture.
Game 1: Marsa CC V Whalers CC – 7th June 2014
After a quick breakfast the reunited Whalers, including Pip (aka Pippo aka Pipapotomous) and Maddie, boarded the chariot and made our way to Marsa cricket club. This turned out to be an imposing building circa 1855 of British Raj architecture. Adjoining it was a swimming pool, tennis courts and cricket pitch with its own club house. Not too shabby.
It must be said that one or two of the Whalers, myself included, were in a bit of a state and the thought of fielding for 35 overs in the blistering heat was (I will be honest) horrific. Skipper of the day Kev opted to bat first on the artificial wicket. He went with the risky option of yours truly, Channa Karu and Pip English. Both of the opening bowlers were quick and accurate. One was Malta’s ex-international captain; the other was bowling 6 accurate balls of various permutations.
Batting was hard work. After five overs we were 7 for no loss when Mr English edged a sharp chance to slip. I followed soon after (LBW). With 7 for 2 on the board, Bunny Nicholls and Rob Eberstein arrived at the crease. Albery would have taken the number 4 slot but for a mysterious wrist injury sustained during his stag do. Unfortunately Eberstein didn’t make an impact and neither did his replacement Bhogal. The Whalers were struggling on ‘not-allot’ for 4 when Kev manned up and came into bat. Thus followed a period of rebuilding, mainly featuring Nicholls playing the same shot. This phenomenon even made the local papers (see extract from local paper at the end of the report). The opposition soon commented on Bunny’s one scoring shot but bizarrely were not able to stop him. Having batted for a while Kev decided that his limp wrist was too painful and retired hurt for 9. Together they had moved the score on to 85 of 4 from 20 overs.
Nicholls celebrated his 1st half century of the season with a nonchalant half nod while engaging in a battle of words with Hewitt (an ex international rugby referee who was very lively). Hewitt would provide the majority of the entertainment for the tour and his name should be noted for the rest of the report. Finally Nicholls decided to charge Hewitt who watched delightedly as the keeper whipped the stumps off. Hewitt would later declare Nicholls his ’rabbit’ and refer to him affectionately as bunny. He then proceeded to tell Nicholls (aka Bunny) that getting him out was “as good as an orgasm”.
Next at the crease was the Dragon-slayer who was dropped after sky’ing his first ball. On a jubilant 1 he was then promptly dismissed. That’s when Gilo (27*) and Dan (25) took to the crease and between them gave the Whalers some credibility. The runs started trickling in and the Whalers got to 153/6 of 34. With only a few balls left, Dan went for a suicide second which was then replicated by his replacement Lucas. Kamal finished off with a single, closing the innings at 159/8 of 35. M.Caruana and A.Naudi were the pick of the opposition bowlers with 5-3-10-2 and 5-2-13-2.
With the searing heat beating down the Whalers contemplated fielding for 35 overs. Fortunately Tea was very good. Some of the Whalers had a quick dip in the pool before sitting down to a plate of schnitzel and chips. Exactly what you need when faced by multiple overs in the field.
Marsa cricket club took no prisoners. With J.Grima and A.Naudi at the crease they were soon blasting the ball all over the place. Skipper Kev swapped out Osgood and Lucas in the ninth over for the combined spin of Special K and Pippo. The breakthrough finally arrived in the 10th over with A. Naudi, trying to lift Pippo to cow-corner where I was fielding.
To the crease stepped F. Spiteri, who we were later told was their best batsman. Eberstein and Giles came on but still no joy. The game was in its 17th over when F. Spiteri got his half century and promptly retired. Even though their number 1 batsman was still at the crease with 40 odd there was a renewed effort by the Whalers. There was some interesting fielding at this point, most notable of which was Dragon-slayer fielded the ball will his leg and accidently kicking it away. He timed it so well that the ball rocked away and almost reached the boundary. It probably would have been stopped earlier but for the fact that we were all laughing so hard that Luckett had to field it himself.
The score was 145 for 1 after 20 overs when Luckett and his heavy balls were brought in. This attempt to scare the batsman worked rather well. The opening bat was dismissed clean bowled by Luckett for 49. Unfortunately it was a little too late and the remaining runs were chipped away (slowly) by Bunny’s friend Steve.
A disappointed group of Whalers retreated to the pool and after a quick dip headed to the bar. Marsa CC was well represented and soon we were relaxed and sipping on yet another chewy cisk larger. Hewitt from the opposition wasted no time in congratulating all of us on playing a good game and summarised the game by saying that Luckett’s style was “rudimentary” and that Bunny’s 50 was “better than what you will get tonight”.
Man of match – Bunny (Pete) for his 69
- Champagne – Channa’s catch
- Muppet – Luckett kicking ball further than he has ever hit it
That night’s antics are slightly hazy. After a quick meal comprising a huge steak and some rank wine the team headed out for some cocktails. We found out that the tour report from last year was stuck in a dinosaur nexus (no idea!), which was why it was so late. Pippo was wearing his stag and engagement party shirt which we had gifted him. Bunny’s friend Steve tried his luck with some miserable Irish girls, completely forgetting that he had tried to hit on them the night before. To be fair to them they saw the funny side to it all. Don’t get me wrong, they still told him to f-off.
The night was just pure fun and apart from one very nasty little brush with a steroid fuelled bouncer (probably suffering from small d1ck disease) the night was a roaring success. It ended in a rather (and predictably) messy fashion with a comatose Pip being carried back to the hotel room. Unfortunately for him he woke in the middle of the night and mistook his kit bag for the toilet. Suffice to say no one borrowed his kit the next day.
Game 2: Marsa CC V Whalers CC – 8th June 2014
“The Whale has many appendages” – P.Luckett (Malta 2014)
“Does that make you the penis” – K.Albery in response to the above (Malta 2014)
The next day was scorching. We were naturally quite hung-over though some were worse than others. Pippo was in the dog house for pissing in the corner of his hotel room (on his kit) and Bunny and Kev were sub-human.
Dan tried to perk us up by playing the piano, which he did remarkably well. A CD with hits such as ‘Wide-wide-wide Dan Osgood’, ‘You are Gould’, ‘We…are the Whalers’ and many others will be available for general release soon. Please contact D.Osgood for your own autographed copy.
When we arrived at Marsa, we were told that we would be facing a diminished team from the day before. Captain Pete led the charge and after winning the toss elected to field. The day was hot but it would only get hotter and no one fancied fielding in the afternoon.
Lucas and Eberstein opened the bowling and immediately had the batsmen thinking. Fuelled by alcohol and rage it wasn’t long till the Whalers had their first wicket when Lucas trapped the opening batsman (LBW for 1). Eberstein, from the other end removed the number two bat (LBW for 5). It got even better when the number three batsman was run out for 0 and the number five was bowled by Eberstein for 0. What a start!
Luckett, at first change, got his second scalp of the tour when the number four batsman looped one up to Dan. Marsa were 28 for 5 and in deep trouble. Sandy came on and added to Marsa’s woes by bowling the number 6 batsman. The score was 35 for 6.
The Marsa skipper dug in and thus followed some gritty cricket. The Marsa skipper put up a valiant effort and kept the score board ticking along with some very explosive sixes. Aided by more than a few byes, Marsa were on 102 for 6 when Lucas got a breakthrough. Three runs later Osgood took the key wicket of the Marsa skipper, who had made a well fought 54.
There were a few dropped in the field; Gilo, who having called it (classic M.I.N.E moment) dropped it and in the process really damaged his knee. The knee would later swell up leaving him unable to bat. Irrespective he was forced to drop down and do ten push-ups (the fine for saying M.I.N.E) there and then. The best one though was Sandy’s refusal to catch a straight forward dolly. Perhaps it was the heat/booze but potentially it was in protest against the fascist dictator who was setting the field.
Marsa were on 105 for 8. Kamal had time to take one last wicket before a flurry of runs (and some ginormous sixes), by the late arriving number ten (23 not out), took Marsa to 133/9 of 35.
All of the Whalers (apart from me) bowled well. Lucas took 2 wickets for 7 of his 4 overs. Luckett, Kamal and Dan were also in and amongst the wickets. However it was Eberstein and Bhogal that bowled the tightest, with figures of 3-2-3-1 and 4-3-1-1 respectively.
With a target of 134 Bunny decided to open with Eberstein and Channa. Fortunately for us, Marsa seemed to have left behind their quicker bowlers. Eberstein and I plundered quick runs and soon the Whalers were racing away with the game. The first wicket fell in the 14th over when Rob, who was on 21, saw the ball clatter into his wicket. With the score on 74 for 1 Kamal joined me at the crease. He was also gone too soon and Matt Lucas took his place.
The Marsa skipper had been bowling at a decent pace, but with a line outside off stump he was dispatched more than a few times to the boundary. I soon reached my 50 and decided to retire (an easy decision considering how hot it was). Sandy joined Lucas and soon the score was racing along yet again. Bhogal was particularly brutal and raced to his 31 not out by the time the winning run was scored.
Champagne moment – Sandy cleaning up
- MoM – Channa for his 50. Sandy and Rob for their all-round performance.
- Muppet –Sandy’s refusal to catch a straight forward one.
- Honourable mentions: Gilo’s ‘M.I.N.E’ moment in the field, Luckett jumping in pool with his phone in his pocket and Sandy making Amanda cry.
That night there was one last session of drinking and cavorting, but soon enough it was time to leave Malta. Many thanks to Marsa for being such incredible hosts and to Bunny Nicholls for organising it all.
All in all it was one of the best tours in recent history and it is clear that the spirit of the Whale lives on.
….until next year then Maestro.
‘The Times of Malta’ – excerpt 10/6/14
Meanwhile, over the weekend Marsa CC took on new rivals from England, Whalers CC, at the oval.
On Saturday the visitors elected to bat first after winning the toss. A great innings from P. Nicholls of 63 runs provided some delight to the Whalers. He thoroughly enjoyed playing the sweep shot where he achieved 95 per cent of his runs. R. Giles, 27, and D. Osgood, 25, were the main scorers in the visitors’ total of 159 runs. For the home side, Mike Caruana and Andrew Naudi took two wickets each.
The Marsa reply came from two different sources. Frank Spiteri blasted 52 runs as John Grima opened the innings and fell just short of a half century by a run. Naudi chipped in with 29 and the home team were easy victors.
On Sunday, the Whalers opted to bowl first and managed to keep the home side to 133 runs.
Derek Ali played a good innings, making 54 runs, and Sid Anand added 23. For the visitors, R. Eberstein and M. Lucas took two wickets each.
The Whalers were not relishing returning home empty-handed and C. Karunaratne had plenty to say when hitting 50 runs. Bhogal added 31, Eberstein 21 and Lucas 17 in a convincing win to tie the series.