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19 Oct. Nairobi Club (timed game):
Whalers 96ao (Gould 29) lost to Kenya Kongonis 100-2 by 8 wickets.
25 Oct. Mombasa Sports Club (30 over game):
Whalers 102-9 innings closed (28.4 overs Osgood 41) lost to Mombasa Sports Club 103-3 (20.2 overs) by 7 wickets.
26 Oct. Mombasa Sports Club (40 over game):
Whalers 139ao (34.3 overs English 37, Hanmer 35, Khalil 22*) lost to Mombasa Sports Club 196-7 (40 overs Gould 2-30 English 2-22) by 57 runs.
01 Nov. Rift Valley Sports Club (35 over game):
Whalers 108-7 (31.5 overs English 27, Giles 20*) beat Rift Valley Invitation XI 107ao 34.5 overs (Khalil 3-11, Judd 2-13) by 3 wickets.
The game against Ruaraka was rained off without a ball being bowled.
Friday 17 October 2008
The time had finally arrived…after a mammoth effort from James Gould Number 11 (“JGn11”) we had managed to assemble a typical Whalers side that comprised a large number of bowlers and a couple of batsmen for good measure (and at least for the first game no recognised wicket-keeper). At the allotted time of 5pm most of the team had arrived and had treated the departures hall to white but ripped torsos as we changed into our tour shirts that had been swiftly organised by one of the Whalettes on tour, Beth. JGn11 looked rather surprised as Si Whistler arrived at the Virgin check-in. Apparently JGn11 had forgotten to book his tickets, transfers, accommodation etc… it then turned out that Si was travelling to Chile – the paleness departed from JGn11’s face to reveal his more natural marginally less pale complexion.
After waiting for the final stragglers to arrive we checked in and made it through security in time to down a pint each, decide who the wicket keeper was going to be for the first game and for Ed to purchase enough food to keep him going for 8 hours before boarding the plane.
As we settled into our seats to enjoy the in-flight movies and try and get some sleep we realised that Virgin cleverly managed to spread us out around the plane strategically placing us next to each and every available screaming baby.
Saturday 18 October
After a restless, but uneventful flight we arrived in Nairobi. The queue for visa’s started, which was kindly lengthened by Pip allowing the half the population of Holland through in front of us. Whilst most of the time was passed moaning about needless bureaucracy and consuming the last remaining Haribo from Ed’s stash Dario started his ambassadorial duties and passed the time with other disgruntled elderly travellers.
Having finally paid over our $50 we made it through to meet up with Jiff who had flow in from Wellington (via Sydney and Jo’burg) to only land a few minutes before us. Having collected our luggage we met our guide Martin, a local law student, and attempted to locate our transport. Whilst waiting we started impromptu game of cricket outside the airport , after hitting several cars and members of airport staff the bus arrived and we loaded up.
Having only just left the airport we spotted our first zebra. Clearly suffering from rigor-mortis the animal lay on its back with all four legs in the air in the middle of the duel carriageway – sadly none of us had our cameras or hunting knifes ready. After a short journey to the Nairobi Club we all retired to bed for a brief morning snooze.
Like any good cricket team warming up before our impending game we decided to play football. Teams were divided into the over and under 30s factions. After some hard tackling from Kamal and some superb goal keeping from Jiff experience won over and the over 30s walked off 4-2 victors.
A one and half hour net session followed where we got back into the rhythm of batting and bowling before giving up and hitting the surprisingly cold pool. The inevitable beers followed (plus two obligatory bowls of chips for Channa) before heading out for a Chinese (we were in Africa after all). We were joined by our tour Organiser, David his wife Harsita and their son Seren who had been part of the victorious Kenyan cricket team earlier in the day. After our food we headed to the Gipsy Bar where we met up with a couple of Dan’s mates. A few of the guys hit the dance floor but returned unsuccessful. This could be attributed to what the Rough Guide describes as the “gay-friendly reputation”, but is more likely attributed to the quality of our dancing.
Sunday 19 October
With rains surrounding Nairobi the sun appeared to be shinning on the Whalers as the wicket was now firm and dry. The opposition, Kenya Kongonis Cricket Club, arrived and JGn11 headed out to the middle to perform the toss, we won and elected to bat.
Al and Rich strode confidently to the middle after some requisite photos of them leaving the pavilion. After a slow but steady start we looked like we might be able to build a decent score, however the first wicket fell after we’d reached 23 after Al offered the team some unneeded catching practice. The next four partnerships managed to add a massive tally of 5 leaving the score at 28-5 (thanks to Channa, Pip and Ed all getting out very quickly). Ads then came in and managed to waft what now looked impressive 7. JGn11 came in to bat (clearly defining his no.11 handle) intent to score runs without getting out (a novel concept I know). Some impressive batting, decent shots and the more than the odd played and missed resulted in a score that later turned out to be 30% of the Whalers runs. Dan clearly hadn’t left his trademark bungee cord in London, having firmly tied his waist to the crease he proceeded to nudge and prod his way to 15 before falling. With the score looking like we wouldn’t break 100 Khalil and Jiff tried to get the scoreboard moving along, however both fell before showing their true score-making ability. Kamal continued to work on his average with a 0 all from the non-strikers end. We ended on 96-0, with David Walters having taken 4 wickets for 7 runs!
At the change of innings the teams settled down for light lunch of steak and fries. With one of the Whalers demonstrating his Boy Scout (or potentially drinking) skills by opening all of the drinks with a knife.
Even with a bowling weighted team, a slow outfield, and youth and exuberance on our side we knew that 96 would be a difficult target to defend. Khalil and Osgood opened the bowling and with our wicket keeper arriving tomorrow Ed settled down behind the stumps to collect the odd wide that the batsmen failed to hit. It wasn’t until the first change when JGn11 stepped up that we struck with our first wicket as Print was cleanly bowled for 12. Jiff came on to bowl as the second change for some 70mph off-breaks (somewhat surprising the waiting batsmen who almost fell to Jiff’s first ball yorker) before claiming Regos wicket with a good catch from Pip. Kamal and Gilo finished off the bowling, but little could be done to stop the result. The Kenya Kongonis ended on 100-2 after 19 overs.
Gould (JGn11) 29
Dan Osgood 15.
Gould (JGn11) 4-1-11-1
Jiff Judd 3-0-14-1
As the victorious Kenya Kongonis gathered around with applause and handshakes, the Whalers found relief from aching joints by sitting down on the neatly laid out chairs and receiving an ice cold Tusker beer from the waiters, which no doubt was a local remedy for acute dehydration. We had been in the country for just over a day and already we had recognised the role that this brand of beer would play in the next two weeks of cricket.
The Kongonis, made the Whalers feel extremely welcome and after a few hearty speeches, much adulation and several complimentary comments (none regarding our standard of cricket!) it was the turn of skipper of the day Number Eleven Jimmy Gould to get up and say a few words. Eloquent as ever James strode forth and delivered a toe curling speech and the shock and joy on the streaming faces of all was a sight to see, this however rapidly brought the initial celebrations to a close.
Once washed and changed the Whalers rejoined the Kongonis in the pavilion for a lovely evening barbeque. Unfortunately the rain descended and refuge had to be found in the clubhouse. Needless to say food was eaten, small talk was made, beer was inhaled and even a game of poker was played.
The evening’s festivities were highlighted by Ed and Rich being warned that their Ginger hair and pale complexion made them an easy target for the sun. In particular one of the Kongonis Matriarchs became so agitated at Rich and Ed’s blasé attitude that said Whalers had to beat a hasty retreat, least they be shown the correct technique for the application of sun screen!
Monday 20th October
The morning saw the Whalers depart on the much anticipated trip to Longonot National Park. Longonot is an extinct volcano surrounded by a beautiful national park which is just outside of Nairobi, or so we thought! Thanks to the last minute organisational skills of one of the Whalers, a 12 seat Taxi was procured and the intrepid explorers set forth with the aim to be back in time for supper.
Unfortunately whether it was the weight of the passengers or whether it was the driving style, the poor van decided that it has had enough and promptly broke down. What started as an over heated engine soon developed into plumes of steam, startling the nearby herd of donkeys. Slowly while the engine cooled down the Whalers stood by nervously as if gazelles out in the open, one by one the locals came to stare and point, and slowly but surely approach these strangely dressed creatures, who for a little while had been rubbing themselves and their friends with a white creamy substance.
After allowing the steaming radiator to cool down the boys jumped back into the van which unbelievably started and headed towards the nearest town with the aim of locating a service station. The service station, after carrying out emergency surgery, let the van loose with a clean bill of health. This was probably a rash call as the van promptly broke down…fortunately within rolling distance of another service station. At this point the Whalers were 3 hours into a 2 hr journey with a distance yet to be travelled. After a bit of faff the decision to hop into a taxi was made. Said taxi having engaged warp speed reached Longonot in no time.
Upon arrival at Longonot the Whalers were a man down as Geoff Judd decided that he would rather sit and have a read. The rest of us carried on and after an hour and a half the last two whalers made it to the top. (Those two will remain anonymous as the idea was to get to the top alive NOT first!)
Tuesday 21st October
Bleary eyes were commonplace when looking around the breakfast table that morning. The heavens had not stopped upending themselves on Nairobi and the condition of the pitch we would encounter that day was suspect at best.
After breakfast the Whalers crowded at the entrance to Nairobi club awaiting the bus that would transport us to our destination. Eventually it turned up with a rather surprised driver who had assumed that we would not be playing. His views being pooh poohed rather quickly we proceeded to get lost on the way to the ground. It must be noted that when the bus arrived at the Ruaraka club the Whalers were still on time. However fears were realised in full when we discovered no hint of the opposition and one solitary grounds-man sitting on a low stool replanting turf in the covers.
After warm-ups, fielding practise, frisbee throwing and serious catching practise, we were still no clearer on whether or not we would be playing. At 1pm we gave up the ghost and hopped back in the bus. The day was saved by a visit to the nearby shopping complex. A decent lunch later a game of mini-golf was proposed. It is still unclear as to who won the day, but it was a lot of fun having a go. After the mini-golf course was destroyed the rampant Whalers turned their attention to a spot of bowling. Many pints later and after two full games of bowling Rich was crowned king of the pins, and the Whalers piled into the bus to head back to Nairobi club to prepare for the evening and our first proper night out in Nairobi.
This commenced at the excellent Tamambos restaurant. Notable incidents included Channa’s slightly dubious selection of French wine and Ed’s burping issue, and that was just before the starters had been ordered. Later on in the meal Jimmy offered to run the Hong Kong marathon for charity and was sponsored 1000 Kenyan schillings by Toby and Gilo for every second he ran under three hours. We await the commencement of the training programme.
Determined to pursue the evening beyond the close of the meal most of the squad got taxis to one of Nairobi’s premier nightspots ‘Casablanca’. Unfortunately this being a Tuesday evening we were pretty much the only clientele. At least until a family with children of primary school age and a midget in a wheelchair entered the fray. And I’m not making that up (although I kind of wish I was). Undeterred by the new arrivals rounds of cocktails (including Pina Colada and Escara) were ordered and a game of 21’s developed that progressed to include the classic Roman numerals and German porn star versions.
The evening was to continue at the back bar at Nairobi Club where orders of Amarula, port, Glenmoranje and a Guinness bottle (for the chef) were duly placed and Gilo spent the rest of the evening attempting to enter into conversation with the chef – and largely failing. More fool him as he missed out on the musical highlight of tour with Pip lending his best Head Chorister voice to a performance of Molly Malone with Channa beat boxing next to him. Unfortunately this performance will not be appearing on YouTube as I was laughing too much to be able to record it.
Wednesday 22nd October
On Wednesday morning Jimmy, Ads and Colonel Kamal arose early to play golf while other squad members went for a stroll in Nairobi’s CBD. Ed and Al set out for a game of tennis that was to prove quite a challenge on waterlogged clay courts with no lines and large holes in the nets, but once the groundsman had marked the lines and advised not to stand behind the base line as it was too wet, a game of sorts was played, although thankfully for all concerned there were no spectators.
After an extensive check-out faff that absorbed pretty much the entire day and still managed to lose Toby’s bag, it was finally time for the Whalers to venture onto public transport and the delights of the night train to Mombasa. Kenya Railways is a proper step back into the days of the empire, complete with branded crockery and cutlery. The meal service provided some interesting moments, not least Pip receiving the smallest fish starter in the history of the world, and then a guess the desert game that lead to a number of short priced backers for the ubiquitous fruit salad option, but it was Al’s more ambitious shout of apple crumble and custard that so nearly came in as we were presented with something stodgy with a liquid accompaniment that no-one was really sure about as it didn’t really taste of much.
Thursday 23rd October
As dawn broke on Thursday, some of the very earlier risers were able to get some early safari action in from the train as we meandered through Tsavo National Park and the fantastic African landscapes. Breakfast passed largely without incident despite the club captain’s attempts to seduce some travelling Norwegian girls.
On arrival into hot and humid Mombasa we were transferred to the Voyager Beach Resort just up the coast. Whalers may have varied interests, but there are certain things that are pretty much guaranteed to keep everyone happy – large amounts of food, a good supply of alcoholic refreshments, an ability to play a large number of competitive sports at which we have considerably more talent between us than cricket, and scope to get sunburned easily. So imagine the delight upon the realisation that not only did Voyager Beach provide all these things, but for free! Including alcohol. So undeterred by lack of sleep the Whalers repaired to either the bar, pool or to play a lot of table tennis, darts and a particularly enthusiastic game of water polo with other guests.
The early evening brought a game of beach cricket. The six into the sea and out rule led to the leg-side full toss being the delivery of choice as a succession of batsmen just couldn’t resist and duly launched the ball into the shallow waters. Toby continued to demonstrate the prowess of his occasional bowling with three wickets in an over. After dinner we retired to the beachside bar to discuss Jimmy’s love life, nicknames and who could throw the furthest. The matchbox game was introduced and at one point Channa despatched a six finger fine of gin.
Friday 24th October
Friday was a free day in advance of the first of two very big matches on the weekend. A hardcore party awoke at 7am to get some early morning snorkelling action in. After breakfast in an attempt to get used to physical exercise in the heat, a quick game of beach volleyball was organised. Unfortunately copious sweating and extremely hot sand led to an early and exhausted conclusion at around 10am. Table-tennis in the shade of the games room continued to prove a popular option with Ed and Jimmy fighting it out for top honours.
Some members of the squad went into downtown Mombasa after lunch to do the cultural thing and make some phone calls, while others elected for some pool time interspersed with massages. Unfortunately around this time a bug was beginning to sweep through the camp with Rich in particular badly affected and consigned to bed for the day. Channa also succumbed to injury at this point, a somewhat more intriguing massage ear injury. It remained to be seen what impact this would have on his match performance.
After an energetic half dozen had managed a lively if narrow game of touch rugby on the beach as the sun went down we all retired to the seafood restaurant for a civilised meal dominated by some extravagant lobster dishes.
Saturday 25th October
The Whalers second cricketing challenge of the tour was a visit to Mombasa Sports Club for the first of two games, a 30 over affair with a 2pm start. In hot and humid conditions the toss was won by the home side that elected to field. The Whalers named a changed side with Dario and Toby making their first tour appearances.
Opening up for the Whalers was an unfamiliar partnership of Dickenson and Osgood. The start was a solid one until Al was out caught behind chasing a wide one with the score on just 15. The dismissal brought Dario to the crease on his return from injury. Unfortunately the injury had not healed as well as hoped, and Dazzler was forced to retire hurt on 6. With Dan holding strong at one end, the catalogue of woe continued at the other with Khalil and Pip both dismissed cheaply for 1 and 5 respectively. Channa strode to the crease to join Dan but added only four singles before being run out from a standing start at the non-striker’s end. Perhaps he was worrying too much about the roll-ups in his pocket? With Ads also perishing swiftly it was Toby who finally provided Dan with some support, and was the only other batsmen to make double figures with a solid 17. Dan’s watchful 41 off 66 balls came to an end with a second run out, and Jimmy managed to complete a hatrick of run outs without facing a ball.
Despite some late order swinging from Jiff and Ed the Whalers innings was closed on 102-9 off just 28.4 overs. It was a disappointing total, and only thanks to Dan’s sterling effort that we made three figures. Wickets were shared amongst the Mombasa bowlers – Whalers were not blasted out, but largely failed to deal with accurate bowling.
With a small total to defend the Whalers needed early wickets and were immediately in business as a short delivery from Khalil was sent looping towards midwicket when Channa took his first ever Whalers catch moving smartly round from square leg and prompting Panesaresque celebrations.
After this initial success Khalil continued to bowl very well with just six runs coming off his four overs. Despite their initial setback the Mombasa batsmen accumulated sensibly and passed 50 without further loss. The Whalers stuck to their task though, and were rewarded with the wicket of Latif for 28 when Ads took a catch off Ed’s bowling. Jiff again just failed with his opening quicker ball yorker off two paces, prompting smiles all round especially from the relieved batsmen. The introduction of Dan and Pip to the bowling failed to make further breakthroughs until Pip deservedly took the wicket of Yusuf stumped by Toby as he attempted to hit the winning runs in spectacular style.
In the following over the game was up for the Whalers as Maulik hit the winning runs to finish on 34 not out, and Mombasa Sports Club had won by seven wickets with over 9 overs to spare. So, an improvement on their first match performance from the Whalers, with some tidy bowling and decent fielding, but ultimately the batsmen hadn’t contributed enough runs. The Whalers retired to some beers and pondered the task ahead of playing a stronger Mombasa side on the following day in a longer contest.
After the game we shared a few beers with the local rugby club boys before heading back to the hotel for a much deserved dinner. The nightly ‘entertainment’ followed in the form of a very bad stage show, charting the history of Kenya. With the actors miming to some woeful backing track, a school play could have given it a run for its money. The director should have been shot, it was terrible and we voted with our feet and made a sharp exit to the look out bar for a night cap.
Sunday 26th October
Al took the helm for the 40 over Sunday game and we returned to the magnificent Mombasa Sports Club to face the home side, who looked surprisingly similar team to the one who had beaten us yesterday. Humidity aside, the weather was remarkably similar to a damp spring day at Chiswick. Al won the toss and chose to take advantage of the conditions and have a bowl. Gouldy started brightly with Yusuf being knocked over early doors with a peach of a delivery, Khalil kept it tight at the other end. Amit Bhudia the much vaunted Kenyan international strode to the crease. After a duck yesterday he had something to prove to the mighty Whalers. However he came unstuck early doors with some sharp work from Dan at point and was run out for just 3. His career average is 33 for Kenyaand poultry 1.5 for the Whalers! The score continued to tick over at about 4 an over but wickets were falling with a good caught and bowled from Ed, a great wicket ball from Kamal and a ripping lbw for Pip after he had been handed out some rough treatment. The game was very much in the balance at 85 for 5 off 22 overs. However, Latif was getting his eye in and I am sad to report he was dropped 4 times on his way to a rather lusty 96 not out, with some support at the death from Boyo. It took their score to a heady 198 for 7. It had been a tough day in the field but all in all was a much improved effort, despite too many catches going down.
A curry lunch followed with a much needed sit down and rehydration. The new look partnership of Pip and Jif strode to the crease with the sun shining again. A steady start was needed to tick along at the 5 an over needed to reach our target. Jif didn’t last long for a quack and Channa followed suit leaving us in trouble at 15 for 2. Al looked good before being out for a tidy catch at gully for 9. Pip was looking settled and building a nice innings but partners were falling, Toby for 11 (lbw) leaving Whalers at 55 for 4. Ads came in and started to rebuild with Pip and took the score onto 85 for 5 off 27 overs. With the run rate rising, the call came at one of the regular drinks breaks to hit out and Pip got caught soon after for an excellent 37. Ads followed soon after for a career best of 35. With the run rate rising the tail had to have a bit of a slog. Gouldy had a go, Kamal got ran out and Ed delivered one lusty blow before being bowled. However, Khalil put together a wonderful cameo of 22 with a huge 6 over cow corner. 148 was the final total. Whilst 50 runs off the target, if some catches had been held it could have been a lot closer. A good game and much better account by the Whalers. The beers tasted better but thoughts were of what could have been.
Muppet Gouldy leaving his socks on the top of the bus
Champagne Khalil’s Six
Gouldy 6 – 30 – 0 – 2
Pip 3 – 22 – 0 – 2
Kamal 3 – 10 – 0- 1
Under the cover of the darkness the Whalers proceeded down the Mombasa station platform for the return train journey to Nairobi. Having previously experienced the quality of the 3 course onboard meal, we gathered snacks from the platform kiosk to ensure our survival!
Shown to our cabins, we dumped our bags and were “gonged” to dinner. The Whalettes were excited to sample the infamous meal (especially the fish course) for the first time and were not left disappointed! Indeed, they felt privileged in comparison to Martin who didn’t even get batter around his finger-sized piece of ‘fish’.
Drinking commenced and we returned to our cabins for the games to begin after the staff had kindly turned down our beds. There was a split party – a sleeping cabin, a gambling cabin and the party cabin (complete with disco lights and full surround sound system). Channa was out first in the poker and came to join the party cabin, by popular demand showcasing his immense beat-boxing talents. Choir boy Pip joined in the serenading of the cabin and a full karaoke session kicked off, accompanied by a game of statues (courtesy of Ad’s flashlight).
Having discovered they were long lost cousins a Kiwi corner developed – Jiff and Frith spent hours reminiscing about anything and everything from New Zealand … even singing songs from old peanut butter adverts!
One by one Al picked off the remaining poker competition forcing them to join the party cabin where a drinking game of “one fat hen and a couple of ducks” provoked much hilarity (pls ask Toby for the rules!) We were obviously so useless that we drank the train dry just a few hours into the 14 hour journey. The lack of drink sent everyone back to their cabins for some much needed sleep, all except Pip that was ….
Pip carried on the party in the corridor – alone, singing loudly along to his iPod to classics such as Bon Jovi’s Always and Tasmin Archer’s Sleeping Satellite, or as Pip would say “F’ing tunes” (accompanied by appropriate arm gestures).
Monday 27th October
Several bumpy hours later we were woken by the Hi De Hi Xylophone calling us to an appetising breakfast. We were now rolling though Nairobi National Park and Frith squealed at the sight of her first “creature” … the first of many!!
The beautiful countryside was soon replaced by the outskirts of the Nairobi slums with children waving as the train rolled through. We were met at the Nairobi train station and driven through the hectic traffic back to the Nairobi Club.
After a quick freshen up we headed off for lunch at the Karen Blixen estate. A fleeting affair some may suppose, but not here, as it took many hours for any food to arrive, with only a giant tortoise and Kamal falling off his chair to keep us all entertained. Hunger pains clearly got to Gilo, weak from hunger all he could offer the conversation was the somewhat surprising comment “do fish have eyes?”
Next stop was the ATM faff – again not a difficult task but the Whalers (especially James Gould number 11) managed to turn it into an epic adventure. All fully loaded with cash we headed to the giraffe sanctuary where we met Rothschild giraffes with 45cm antiseptic saliva covered tongues (Gilo – “they could do some damage”).
Dinner that evening was at Carnivore – the meat eater’s paradise. During a feast of crocodile and ostrich balls Jiff was moved to tears during his special “Jambo Bwana” birthday rendition by the restaurant staff. He was a little confused as his birthday was three weeks previous – but Gilo relished the moment more than anyone. Having lowered the flag on the table and Frith having mounted the restaurant zebra, we retired to the Nairobi Club suitably full to the point of being sick.
Heading to a bar in the Nairobi Club we were cast back into Victorian England as whilst attesting to order 14 drinks the Whalettes were told “no ladies in this bar”. Despite the Whalers protesting that no “ladies” were present (the cheek!), we were evicted back into the library for our daily nightcap of Amarula. During a robust debate over the fairness of the exclusion, the only non-Whaler occupant of the library piped up with … “Can you keep it down please, I am reading” (as there was a power cut the “reader” had resorted to reading his week old Daily Telegraph with his mobile phone). Well bu**er off and go read somewhere else we all thought … instead we desperately tried to whisper before heading to bed to prepare for a long drive ahead.
Tuesday 28th October
Departing the Nairobi Club with an early morning start, we were introduced to Jambo 1, Jambo 2 and Jambo 3 driven by chatty Moses and his Silent Assassins and headed off on the long road trip to the Masai Mara. Déjà vu ensued when Jambo 2 broke down on the outskirts of Nairobi – but after a quick fix we were back on the spine-jarringly bumpy roads (despite some managing to sleep through it all). After a quick perusal and photo stop above the Rift Valley and an “amber alert” toilet stop initiated by Jambo 1 we entered the beautiful Masai Mara National Park and got our first taste of quite how special days the next days were going to be.
After many hours we arrived at the Fig Tree Lodge and were all stunned by our beautiful river side tents but had no time to enjoy our abodes as we were straight out on our first game drive. Well what can we say – it was a pretty special few hours and we clocked 3 of the big 5 (lions, buffalo and elephant) with ease. Not to mention the plentiful zebra, impala, gazelles, giraffe, warthog, secretary bird (especially for James Gould no 11). How would this ever be beaten????
Wednesday 29th October
The Whalers gathered for an early breakfast and regaled each other with stories of Channa’s bedtime noises, weird anti-Malaria drugs induced dreams and sleepless nights. Khalil was able to confirm that this was all due to the Hippos that had been mating outside our tents for hours (he had got up in the night and sneaked a peak through the tent mesh – wisely not venturing outside). Their good stamina was noted and it was decided that pulling a hippo in a club perhaps wasn’t such a bad thing.
In addition to the weird dreams other side effects of the Malaria drugs seemed to be taking hold, with Beth especially, who developed an Elephant-man type speech impediment, complete with lisp! The next paragraph of this report was written by her at the time…
Thome of the group (Dario, Dan, Jameth Gould no 11, Ed, Beth and Frith) departed on a very early balloon thlight with that captain Mike from Brithtol. It was truly magical few hourth and after a bumpy landing on a termite mound we were twreated to a full champagne breakfatht. Dario tucked into the triple G&Ts at 830 and we were joined by guesth including giraffeth and impalath in the middle of the Mara.
Ahem, thank you Beth…
The rest of the group got an extra few hours sleep before setting out on another game drive where they were lucky enough to witness a lion kill a wilderbeast. We were told how special it was but all video footage we have seen was either of the ground or sky as the Whalers whooped in excitement!
The lioness showed the kind of guile that had been absent all tour while hunting her prey. She showed herself to the wildebeest to panic them and then out of sight moved round to where she expected them to go and chose her moment to pounce perfectly. Timing the whole thing like a Michael Bevan one day innings. Naturalist Richard Giles said “It was one of the most exciting things I have ever seen” all the more incredible considering that he was sharing with Channa and must have been used to eye-opening firsts.
After an afternoon of sleeping in our luxury tents or spending it poolside, yet more game drives awaited that afternoon. Today we were treated to a cheetah with baby cubs, warthogs with babies and the highlight, one of only fifty black rhinos in the Mara (good spot Ed!)
Thursday 30 October
We had a long trip to Nakuru ahead of us today but Jimmy had managed to persuade our illustrious drivers to stick to the agreed schedule and take us on a final jaunt into the Masai Mara before setting off, so it was another early start from the Fig Tree lodge. We still hadn’t seen a leopard and the kill that was seen yesterday had only served to keep our enthusiasm high for animal spotting despite the early starts and bumpy roads. So once again we set off on a fresh morning with hope in our hearts but sadly a few hippos, elephants and giraffes were all that were seen this time – probably enough to satisfy a novice safari goer but our expectations had grown in the past two days.
Back to the lodge to hear some strange news at the breakfast table that Al had become a nocturnal fantasy for some of the Whalers. Apparently Frith had dreamt that he had taken her on a tour of his favourite tube station. OK, that’s strange enough but Pip then confessed that he had been dreaming of Al too. Now I would agree with the next man that Al is a good looking and “fun-to-be-around” chap, but Pip had some hard questions to answer at the breakfast table.
Time was of the essence because we had a long trip ahead of us to Nakuru, so we piled into the matutus again and left the Mara with cameras full of furry photos and some fantastic memories.
We were not looking forward to this journey at all. The state of the roads are pretty poor and although the drivers seemed to be off-road specialists they couldn’t help but punctuate the continuous rattle from the stony roads by hitting potholes at 60kph which sent a shock up the spine – especially tiring for the bad back brigade of Dario and Beth. And it didn’t help matters that we had already done most of this trip coming the other way.
After about three hours in the saddle we arrived back in Narok for a break to spend 10ksh. There was no prospect of any lunch stop later on so we stocked up on chocolate and crisps before getting back into the vans to head north. One of the drivers, Michael, said that they don’t normally take this road because with just a drop of rain it turns to mud and is impassable. Despite rain clouds looming on the horizon we ploughed on along the road north up into the Mau Forest and an altitude of 2500m.
As the matutus rumbled and bumped into the hills it was amazing to see such a fertile landscape. Michael gave us the low-down on what had been happening here. People had moved into the forest and felled the trees to cultivate the land, and it seemed as though they were doing quite well as a result. But the government wants to protect the limited rainforest that exists in Kenya so it is planning to forcibly remove the residents and plant new trees, although we saw little evidence of this tension, instead we saw the road lined with kids walking home from school. As soon as they saw us coming they would rush towards us giving us the thumbs up, a big smile and shouting “watalii biro!”, which means “tourists biro!”. Apparently a lot of the tourists, especially the French, hand out pens and sweets to the kids as they pass through. Unfortunately all we had for them was a smile and a wave, but we’ll remember for the next time.
The state of the road was starting to become tiresome but soon we were out of the hills and getting closer to Nakuru where the roads are better. Although the roads were better now Dario was still experiencing rumbles, but of a different kind. It must have been something he had at breakfast but with only 30mins to Nakuru he couldn’t wait anymore and had to force the convoy to stop. We pulled over at a petrol station and followed a few directions to find a community church with a convenience out the back. It’s the moment any traveller in a developing country dreads, but whatever the state of the toilet it couldn’t have been that bad because the concerned face Dario had when he disappeared around the corner turned to glee about 10mins later.
The final stretch into Nakuru was a lot smoother and we made good time to get to the Rift Valley safari park to sneak in another couple of hours gawping at animals. A huge lake is a feature of this park, which was teeming with a carpet of pink flamingos and storks and despite the large group of snoozing buffalo nearby we were allowed to step out of the matutus and take some snaps. Further down the track we saw white rhino, giraffe and elephants but that elusive leopard remained absent. The vans made their way up a hill to a vantage point where we could get a fantastic view of the park from up high and tease a family of baboons. Unfortunately for jimmy the best view he got was a hole in the ground as he seemed to have had the same breakfast as Dario but before too long we were back on the road. It was starting to get dark so, after a long and tiring day in the vans, we made our way to the Rift Valley lodge where dinner and evening entertainment awaited us. Dinner was entertaining in itself, as we got the resident musician to sing Jif “Happy Birthday” again – he didn’t cry this time, although some of us did with laughter. The evening entertainment was “entertainment” in its loosest sense. There was a similar team of acrobats to those we saw in Mombassa except they danced to the sounds of a tinny hi-fi, the type my sister had when she was 8, and, frankly, just did fancy handstands. This was followed by the highlight of the evening, the acoustic guitar singer who made a b-line for us and insisted that he could play “anything”, yes “anything” we wanted…which turned out to be “anything” so long as it was Bob Marley. It was ironic considering the origin of the Whalers name. We did make the most of the situation and had a good sing-song before retiring to bed and leaving Al with a drunk dutch man who was trying to couple him off with his sister.
Friday 31 October
Friday morning brought our final safari trip of the holiday. Most of us were up bright and early but Al, Toby and Pip chose to sleep in. There was no word about the dutch sister so we’d have to get answers from Al later.
This time our drivers were on a mission to find a leopard and chose to split up. We spent two hours staring intensely at the trees before finally accepting that it wasn’t going to happen on this trip, so reluctantly we turned tail and headed back to he lodge just in time for breakfast. The rest of the day was spent by the pool before we head off into Nakuru. We had a full panoramic view of the safari park with a beautiful blue sky – it was an idyllic few hours that we knew would probably be our last time to really relax before we return home. In fact, it was so idyllic, even Ed was seen sunbathing – even rarer than a leopard. Not so rare were antics from Channa (as rare as a gazelle) who dived into the swimming pool with a load of cash in his pocket much to everybody’s amusement. Ads kicked arse at scrabble, opening the game with a 98 pointer, and before we knew it it was time to make a break for Nakuru and the Rift Valley Sports Club (RVSC). It was only a short drive but we took our time through the safari park, just in case a leopard decided to make an appearance…but no.
Nakuru seemed unaffected by tourism, a working town with plenty of bustle and noise. We arrived at the RVSC, which is a similar kind of relic from the colonial days as the Nairobi Club and was to be the venue for our final match tomorrow. We heard a rumour that the pitch would be artificial, and it was true. The outfield was pretty good, even if the grass was a bit long and the pitch inspection was short lived, not much to see except a clay track that will supposedly be covered in matting – we hoped.
We had a couple of hours to kill before dinner so some wondered off into town to continue the other hunt for that other illusive animal, the Tusker T-shirt (barrus dentis subucula), and general tourist tat. But soon enough we were all in the bar at RVSC. But Dan was having none of this lounging around and was keen to get people thinking about the match tomorrow, so he suggested some fielding practice that turned into a football match. The game was going well until Beth stepped onto the field of play needing her room key from Ed so he dipped into his pockets…once…twice…three times, each time with a deeper grimace on his face. It was clear that it had fallen out onto the grass. It was starting to get dark by now so, like ants that had lost their way, there was a frantic scurry with heads pointing down at the grass, lots of action but no organisation. As the sun started to dip below the horizon it was time for someone to get a grip of this situation, bring on Toby. Like a true forensic search that any viewer of CSI would be familiar with, Toby took the lead and organised us into a line, each an arms-length apart. We moved with military precision slowly across the football pitch and sure enough Frith shouted out as if she’s won the Mecca bingo prize and all was well again.
That was probably the highlight of the evening as dinner and drinks at the bar followed the usual format. By 10pm people started to drift off to bed and even the sound of the nearby night club thumping away couldn’t tempt anyone else to carry the night on and we were all in bed by 11pm – probably best considering the match tomorrow.
Saturday 1 November
It was the day of our final match, this time against the Rift Valley Sports Club and it was one we were feeling quite confident about.
We had to get the match underway by 10am so it was an early breakfast to get in a decent warm up and some team photos. We’d been used to some pretty good food over the past couple of weeks so to get a funny brown slop served up today was a bit disappointing, most of us stuck to toast.
The ground staff were busying away laying the matt down on the pitch, which was pinned down with nails and Tusker beer bottle tops, very apt. With the pitch being prepared all we needed now was an oppo, but there were rumours in the camp that they were struggling to get enough players together. Luckily there were a few brits hanging around who were here to teach kids cricket, they’re part of the “cricket without boundaries” charity and they were only too pleased to make up the numbers.
With the team photos done we were ready to get going. Dan got everyone into the circle where he delivered some inspiring and arousing words (I assume) to get the team in the groove. The staff finished marking out the boundary (finally) and so we were ready to rock.
RVSC won the toss and chose to bat, 35 overs each way was agreed. It was a hot and sunny day so it was going to be a tough day in the field for the Whalers.
Khalil and Gouldy were spearheading the attack and they were up for it. Khalil’s pace in the first over was clearly too much for the oppo as they knicked one up into the air behind. It was definitely one for the keeper, and Toby went for it but couldn’t position himself correctly and spilled. It was a disappointing start but hopefully not a sign of things to come. The oppo started well, even if a little slow, poking around 1s and 2s. But it was in the 7th over that Khalil took first blood for the Whalers getting the batsman caught behind, and when Gouldy struck in the next over the Whalers’ tails were really up. Toby took an excellent catch for Gouldy’s wicket but the decision was later changed to LBW – much to Toby’s dismay. Now RVSC had Arti and Dalveer at the crease, both of whom looked comfortable. Khalil had bowled a good, sharp first spell and deserved his wicket but the skipper made the first bowling change and replaced him with Gilo…and that did the trick. Dalveer fell LBW and RVSC were 34 for 3. Things were looking good for the Whalers as Sahil came to the crease.
It was time for Gouldy to take a break, queue Jif, and he was good. Tight and sharp, he didn’t let the batsmen settle and Sahil could only manage a few runs before his middle stump was knocked over. The Whalers were now like a pride of lions stalking their prey…and they pounced again (or rather Dan did) only two overs later with a great catch taken off Jif’s bowling at deep mid off.
At this point Arti was still at the crease and looking solid but Pip was now in the attack and Arti took a swipe only to scoop it straight up into the air. Any of four Whalers could have taken the catch but Channa was the quickest to the call and launched himself at it. Unfortunately he launched himself a little too far, mis-judged and dropped. Arti now was our main target if were to close this game down.
But another dropped catch from Kamal off Gilo’s bowling only served to heighten the anxiety that maybe we could let this game slip. This middle part of the RVSC innings saw a lot of runs leaked and a few nerves and frustrations were starting to set in. Ed was probably trying too hard when he delivered his double bouncer. Even the Whalettes were sensing that things were getting a little tetchy so they shipped water out to the players, cheered and flag-waved as best they could.
Ed was back on for a second spell and rightly sorted things out with a good wicket with Jif taking the catch at gully. Then Dan took the crucial wicket of Arti with Ads taking a great catch at cover and so now it was just a matter of mopping things up. Arti finished just short of his half century on 47 and after he departed the runs dried up for RVSC. As they only had 10 players their lowest scorer Joesph batted twice, but it didn’t take Khalil long to grab the final two wickets and RVSC were all out for 107 after 34.5 overs.
It was a few more runs than we would have liked but it was a total we were confident we could get. Lunch would be ready at 13.00 and we finished earlier than expected so we decided to get a few overs in before lunch. It was a straight turn around and Al and Pip started the assault on the 108 target.
The opening attack from RVSC was sharp and straight and proved too much for Al who was quickly out, bowled playing to a ball he probably should have played straight. But Pip at the other end seemed focused and resolute so after the first six overs we were one wicket down with not many runs on the board. Time for lunch.
Pip chose not to dip out of his concentration and found it hard to eat his chicken curry. Gouldy was equally serious about the job in hand and it wasn’t long before they were heading back out to the middle to continue the innings.
But Gouldy’s determination to make a good innings was not enough to avoid being trapped LBW in the first over after lunch, much to his consternation. As he stormed off into the pavilion he was passed by Channa striding forward in the opposite direction towards the crease. As Pip continued his careful watch at one end Channa played an entertaining, and effective, mix of steady defence and wild attack at the other. The entertainment was heightened as Pip guided a ball down the leg side and immediately charged down the wicket looking for a run, but wisely Channa sent him straight back as it had gone straight to a fielder and there was definitely no run there. No harm done…except in the very next ball the same happened again but this time Channa chose to run. Channa’s pretty sharp between the wickets but even he could not out run a direct hit on the stumps and he was promptly run out much to the enjoyment of the oppo. In comes Toby.
The next few overs were sedate to say the least. To be precise the next seven overs produced only 17 runs as Toby and Pip blocked and swiped with some comedy running between the wickets in between. The “crowd” on the sidelines were getting a little frustrated but at least wickets were in tact.
Eventually Pip was caught for a diligent 27 which brought Kamal to the crease with orders to up the run rate. In the meantime the “cricketers without boundaries” had to leave to get back to Nairobi, which left a big hole in their outfield but our number 12, Ads took to the field to help out.
Kamal gets 10 out of 10 for effort and perseverance but he struggled to connect with the ball and the run rate still faltered. There were mumblings on the side lines that we may not actually get to the target with the required run rate at four an over and with overs running out. To make matters worse the opening bowler Dalveer returned to the attack and there was real concern.
Kamal succumbed to Dalveer LBW which brought Gilo to the crease. Gilo gave the run rate a kick up the backside and the innings was back on course. Toby was eventually caught for a steadfast 18. A couple of good overs later, with 5 extras given away in one of them, the pressure was slowly being relieved and instead of spluttering the Whalers two-stroke clicked into gear. Khalil could sense victory and tried to get there sooner rather than later but got stumped instead, so it was left to Gilo to hit the winning runs and finally the Whalers had sealed their first international victory, by three wickets.
We made it harder work than it probably should have been, and we had a little help from the oppo who gave away 30 extras but it was a sweet victory nevertheless and one well deserved. Thinking back to our first international match against Dambulla CC and on the outfield in 35°c and 99% humidity in Galle, it’s been a victory hard fought for and well won. Hopefully this is the start of a new international era for the Whalers…
Muppet: Channa going for a wander out of his crease
Champagne: Winning runs from Gilo
MOM: Gilo winning runs, 20 not out, 1 wicket
After the last game
Heady with their first international victory, beers flowed like champagne and spirits were running high as we loaded the buses with beer and sped back to NBO to get out on it. A speedy drive home with beers led to a few comedy road side loo stops. Steak and chips followed at the NBO club and awards were presented as follows:
Player of the Tour: Khalil
Muppet Moment of the Tour: JGn11 Leaving his socks on top of the bus.
Champagne Moment of the Tour: Gilo hitting the winning runs
With the serious work done it was time to get out on the piss and we headed to Westlands for the obligatory post tour Mojitos. These were a touch better than in Sri Lanka but the Cuban Connoissours would have turned their noses up at them. We boozed it up and crawled it to a local night club. Al, Dan, Ads and Pip lead the charge and were there at the end throwing shapes on the dance floor.
Sunday 1st November
Sore heads met at an early Breakfast and it was off to the airport to head home. We said good bye to Jiff for his 2 day trip back to NZ, a great effort for coming along. Beth and Ed were heading to Zanzibar and the rest of the crew headed back to the smoke. All in all a fantastic tour, which was all thanks to Jimmy Gould’s hard work. The Whalers first international victory will go down in the annals for evermore.