June 24th 2016 was always going to be a pivotal day in the UK calendar, marking the start of the first Whalers domestic tour in 5 years.
Challenging for space in the news headlines was the unexpected Leave referendum result. Key questions arose – What would Whalers tours look like in a Farage / Johnson ruled Britain, would we need a visa to get to Derby, and perhaps most importantly which Lucas brother was better at cricket?
Al, Rich and Geoff drove up on Friday night to begin acclimatisation, they were relieved that pre-match preparation could include a visit to a sea creature named drinking establishment, and a curry. Gilo injured himself going to the toilet at the curry house but recovered sufficiently for a few late night bar visits.
On Saturday morning the rest of the team arrived by train with the exception of Luckett, who having moved to Birmingham just the week before to make it easier to attend the tour, and was obviously the last to arrive.
Match Day 1: Wall CC vs Whalers CC; The Friary School, Lichfield
Whalers had hosted Wall CC twice on their tours of London, both times very close games with one win apiece. It was a relief as the rain clouds stayed away – Nick lost the toss and we were bowling with a half hour delay to let the pitch dry further, and Luckett to go to the supermarket to buy beer.
Wall started solidly putting on 25 for the first wicket and hitting Seth for several boundaries, but the introduction of Matt made the difference as he picked up 2 – 7 in his 5 over spell – both of them caught and bowled. Thereafter the Wall progress was slow as the Whalers chipped away and Nick shuffled the bowlers. There was a wicket each for Kamal, Al, Nick and Gilo (with his first ball).
Whalers looked well placed to bowl Wall out cheaply, but some stubborn, if slow-scoring resistance saw Wall reach three figures. A last-over run-out saw Wall finish their 35 overs on 103-7.
In reply Whalers started with some flashy strokeplay which saw the demise of Gilo for a duck and Channa for 9 leaving them at a potentially tricky 12-2 in the fourth over. Al and Dan nursed the score to 49 before Al missed a straight one. Seth joined Dan and with accurate bowling the runs dried up – just 4 off 4 overs.
With Seth out and Luckett at the crease the rate was upped slightly with Al no-balling an 8 year old for overstepping (it’s the laws innit) and Luckett clattering him for 4 over midwicket.
Overall with Dan anchoring the innings with a fine 37 and contributions from Seth (7) and Luckett (10) there was no Whalers collapse and although Dan perished with 9 still required, Matt and Geoff finished the job with 5 overs to spare winning by 4 wickets.
Whalers retired to a local pub with Wall to plan return fixtures in London and then returned to the bright lights of Derby.
At the first drink of the evening session (lager with sambuca chaser) the awards for the match were as follows:
Man of match – Matt Lucas, 2 wickets (Honourable mention Dan 37 and 1 bye)
Champagne – Matt’s caught and bowled (Honourable mentions Al’s cover drive and Gilo’s first ball wicket)
Muppet : Al no balling an 8 year old (Honourable mentions: Lucky and Matt catch confusion, and Nick’s slow ball beamer to an 8 year old)
After the awards there was some concern as to how Dan hadn’t got man of the match with the highest score of the game by some distance. Did people understand what they were voting for? Could there be a second vote? Had democracy once again failed the people?
The Whalers went for an excellent dinner and afterwards diverged to various after hours activities including some poor standard pool and competitive arcade shooting games. With the club scene not to all tastes Luckett and Al toured late bars keeping the Whalers flag flying until the early hours with their superior chat and drinking abilities.
Match Day 2: Allestree CC vs Whalers CC; Allestree Cricket Club
With Matt’s old club kindly hosting us for the Battle of the Brothers, the Whalers relocated their hangovers across town. This time a prompt start to try and avoid the later forecast heavy rain, the Whalers named an unchanged side and we were once again bowling.
Whaler’s Sunday matches on previous tours tended to be characterised by wayward bowling and punishing hours in the field – this one was to prove a surprising exception. Nick and Dan both bowled tidy lines with Dan only conceding through the third man cordon (despite various slips and third men). It was Nick who solved the edges conundrum removing both opening batsmen (including Lucas) clean bowled.
Excellent support bowling from the change bowlers Geoff and Matt, and some excellent dilligent fielding continued to restrict Alestree despite a short boundary on one side. A third wicket for Nick who finished with 3-24 and one wicket from Gilo kept Allestree in check. While further wickets didn’t materialise Allestree couldn’t pick up the rate even in the death overs and finished on 147-4 off their allotted 35 overs.
After an excellent tea Seth and Gilo opened for the Whalers pursuit. Seth was especially aggressive and scored a quickfire 33 before being stumped. Dan was batting at first drop again and kept the pace going with some enthusiastic running before Gilo was out lbw for 17. As Paul Luckett strode to the crease there was some scrambling amongst the middle order to get padded up, which remarkably turned out to be un-necessary. Suddenly the short boundary seemed very short as both Paul and Dan despatched maximums over the fence. Paul continued to a career best 36 before holing out to a fine catch. That left Dan time to get to to 59 not out and Al time to have a few overs in the middle without facing a ball as the Whalers cruised home with 6 overs to spare.
Overall a dominant performance in all disciplines and Whalers are now unbeaten on tour since 2014. Thanks very much to both Wall and Allestree for hosting. Looking forward to Porto in 2017 – can Nick Howes keep his 100% touring record. Will Luckett’s rich vein of form continue? Will Dan win a man of the match on tour? All this and more as the Whalers brave the post Brexit European landscape.
Man of the match – Paul Luckett career best 36 (Honourable mention for Dan for bowling and 59 and Nick for 3-24)
Champagne – Nick cleaning bowling opening batsman
Muppet – Nick’s dropped catch
Wall CC 103-7 (35), Whalers 104 – 6 (30), Whalers win by 4 wickets
Allestree CC 147-4 (35), Whalers 148 –3 (29), Whalers win by 7 wickets
Photos courtesy of Kamal (mostly) and Al