As the late arrivals to Cannes turned up at Friday nights restaurant ‘Le Tube’ even later thanks to BA it was apparent that the early arrivals had been enjoying themselves as Ed and Gilo looked half cut, there were stories of Pete being invaginated and everyone had a pink drink that looked like some sort of Campari based cocktail. The late arrivals were thus compelled to drink copious amounts of wine to ‘catch up’ before we retired to a bar to take part in the weekend’s main leisure activities of scoring the local talent and playing 21’s or 5’s. The group including the author’s evening was then finished off by being accosted/groped by a hooker outside their hotel.
The Whalers made there way to the hotel reception the following morning on timeish from a variety of cafes and boulangerie’s clutching a variety of baguettes/croissants/anything that would rehydrate them. We then attempted to the find the bus station which wasn’t that clearly marked on a map and had also moved due to roadworks. By luck rather than judgement we made it with a minute to spare and then spent the next 50 minutes sweating out last nights alcohol on the 50 minute public bus journey to Grasse. Cue another scramble for baguettes/croissants/anything that would rehydrate us before being driven the rest of the way to the ground in St Vallier de Thiey by 4 of the opposition for the day, Riviera Cricket Club.
It was our drivers first game for the club so he was equally as surprised as us when we turned up for to find the ground cover by a couple of thousand sheep and their associated droppings. Apparently the field is occasionally used for grazing by the local shepherd who luckily wasn’t very far away and was able to clear the sheep in around half an hour. The droppings were another matter and one of the oppo had the pleasant task of brushing it off the strip with an old fashioned straw broom. The rest were avoided where possible and thankfully no one had the pleasure of diving into any!
Tour organiser Matt skippered the first game and we were invited to bat first. Al and Gilo strode confidently to the crease past a blow up doll version of Kev who unfortunately couldn’t make the tour. They both made the most of anything loose on the astroturf wicket and the small boundaries meant that scoring was quick until Gilo slapped a rank wide long hop straight back to the bowler. That bought Pip to the crease and the quick scoring continued, helped by 2 runs from a hook shot by Pip onto his helmet. Pip’s innings didn’t last very long before he was trapped in front. That bought Pete to the crease fresh from an array of injuries (his recent invagination) and playing his first game for 9 months. The lack of game time/fitness meant that he chose to mainly score in boundaries and along with Al took us to 100-2 at drinks. Al was out shortly after and Pete then became the 2nd Whaler to be hit on the head in the innings and he missed a pull shot and took the ball on the chin. Those on the boundaries thought the noise sounded woody and assumed he had got a bat on it but the non-striker Channa was fare more concerned and shouted/instructed Pete to ‘STAY DOWN’. There was only a small graze so Pete carried on however he was out for a top scoring 60 shortly after. Cue a typical Whalers collapse as Channa was bowled and the Powerhorse middle order of Kev and the Dragonslayer failed to trouble the scorers between them (to be repeated the following day).
Dan settled the ship and after Matt joined the list of ducks looking to pull one that didn’t bounce was joined by Nick and they proceeded to get the runs flowing again. After Dan managed to hit a ball from their spinner into his own face to become the 3rd Whaler to be hit above the shoulder in the innings (this was not a reflection of the speed of the opposition bowlers) he then set about forcing Nick to run off his hangover with a number of quick 2’s and the Whalers finished on 203-8 from their 35 overs. A good score but on a small ground definitely gettable.
After a great tea of baguettes, beer, cheese and ham and an incredibly long piss by Nick the Whalers opened up with a much lighter Nick and Special K. Both bowled well and Kamal soon had the first wicket when opener Jules was caught by Al in the covers. Cue a fantastic spell of bowling by Nick when he had the other opener caught behind by a fantastic one handed catch by Ed and then bowled the debutant with a Yorker first ball (not the best way to thanks him for driving 3 of us to the game). In his next over he produced the ball of the match with a sharply rising delivering of a perfect line and length drawing the edge from their captain giving Ed a second and much simpler catch behind the stumps. Kamal chipped in with another wicket and Riviera were 5 down with only 30 on the board. That bought about a double bowling change with Matt and the Dragonslayer bowling in tandem for 8 overs. The bowling was tight but neither could make a breakthrough. Giles was next to be thrown the ball and he removed the dangerous Samnath. A sharp run out from Matt removed Irfan and it was then down to the most experienced Whalers of all Dan and Al to finish off the tail. Dan took 1-2 from his 2 overs and Al improved his already impressive strike rate with 2-9 from 1.5 overs. Riviera CC this finished on 95 all out a 108 run win for the Whalers to get the tour off to a good start.
M-O-M – Pete, 60 runs and a good catch
Champagne – Ed’s one-handed catch off Nick’s bowling
Muppett – Channa ‘marking the boundary’ and then dropping a catch (after it had just been remarked as to how well we were catching)
Dan being hit in the face
Pete being hit on the chin
Pip being hit in face
Lucketts golden duck
1000 sheep on pitch
Gilos easy soft dismissal
Drinks were had on the field post game and it was then time for the journey back to Cannes which went much more smoothly than the journey up. The night activities weren’t as well subscribed as the previous night with quite a few Whalers (including the author sneaking off early). I can’t comment on what happened post midnight but everyone was pretty much on time the next morning for the drive across to Provence for the second game against Entrecasteaux CC. Vehicle number 1 contained the Dragonslayer and his access to Spotify meaning he could play ‘any song in the universe’. Cue power ballads galore for the 90 minute journey to the game.
We arrived to a beautiful ground in the shadow of a chateau and alongside a stream which would be used by some the Whalers after the game to cool off (there are pictures which are not for the faint hearted). Also there were no sheep and as we had to leave fairly sharpish for Ed/Nick to get to the airport we agreed on a prompt start. Captain for the day Channa was otherwise engaged so Matt went out for the toss which was won and we were batting again.
Channa decided to mix things up and it was Dan and Pip who strode purposefully to the middle to try and give the Whalers and almost unprecedented 2 from 2 record on tour. We got off to a solid if unspectacular start with an opening stand of 56 in 13 overs before Pip was out for 18. Dan quickly followed so it was up to Al and Pete to get things moving. Al seemed unable to score anything higher than a single but Pete again found the boundary regularly (despite the invagination) and the two of them took the score to 148 off 26 overs before Al was bowled for 26. Pete continued to score well but without much support especially from the duck twins Ed and the Dragonslayer who had the ignominious feat of scoring a grand total of 0 from their combined 4 innings and earned the combined nickname the ‘Luckness Monster’. Pete was out for an excellent 61 and the Whalers ended up being all out for 182 from 34 overs. Again a decent total but definitely achievable.
Another fantastic tea followed with the welcome addition of the local rose wine which seemed to be a very popular choice for the opposition during and after the game. Nick and Matt opened the bowling and Matt soon had opener Howarth back in the hutch for 5 with a smart catch from Al at mid-wicket. The other opener Ed was scoring freely however the same can’t be said of his partner Gaisford who struck 3 from 44 balls until he was out caught by Channa off one of the Dragonslayer’s heavy balls. The score was now 46 for 2 from 19 overs and meant Entrecasteaux were now well behind the rate. The new batsmen Perera looked much handier with the bat however and it didn’t take him long to start dispatching the bowling to the boundary. 43 runs were added in the next 6 overs before Ed was out for 32. Perera was clearly the danger man and even though wickets fell at the other end while he was there an unlikely victory was still possible. Matt returned in the 30th over and bowled Perera for a quick 44 and the Whalers could breathe a little easier. Morrissey soon followed LBW to the same bowler and Nick also took the wicket of Harland for 16. The Whalers couldn’t quite finish them off but at the end of 35 overs Entrecasteaux were 157-8 giving the Whalers their second victory of the tour by 25 runs. This was also the first Sunday tour victory in living memory.
M-O-M – Pete again, 61 runs
Champagne – Matt bowling their best batsman
Muppett – The Luckness Monster (Ed and Dragonslayer’s double double ducks)
River escapades – Gilo appearing to be naked
Channa missing toss
Al wide wide widest
Channa’s field placement
Gilos stained whites in river
Gilo/channa Failure to add 2 and 2
It was a very hot day and as mentioned previously some of the Whalers decided to cool off in the nearby stream in their pants. Multiple photos were taken mostly with Gilo trying to pull down other peoples pants and Kamal showing off his physique. We were then given instructions to find the nearby bar for a post match drink however no one was really listening as it took 15 minutes to find and we were just about to give up when we spotted one of the oppo. The bar had clearly had a busy day as they had run out of beer and glasses which meant us passing round carafes of rose wine to quench our thirst. Still on a high from his top scoring innings Pete managed to acquire a bottle for the return journey and cue more power ballads (poor driver).
Back in Cannes Ed and Nick headed to the airport while the rest of us headed into town for mountains of small fish and to dissect the tour and plan next years (from memory Al was tasked with looking into Porto). Again there was much scoring of the local talent (Channa is a very hard man to please) and much drinking of rose wine. Later on there were stories of Pip trying to order a baileys and being refused but this can’t be verified.
Words by Matt
Photos by Kamal