It is always a sad event when you wake up on the Saturday morning in Chiang Mai and there is no prospect of any cricket being played, but rather as a passive spectator, demoted to the boundary tent as your particular team has failed to reach Finals Day.
This fate has befallen on both Darjeeling sides for 2013, and at the beginning of the week we had high hopes of our elite squad at least being in a semi final, but hey ho we chalk it up to experience and just look forward to an entertaining day of fast paced cricket, sipping on our bottles of Moet or whatever brand of champagne gets deposited into the ice box.
After the team dinner on the Friday night, which was a sumptuous barbeque held at our team sponsors venue The Lotus, no holds were barred as the lads let their hair down and got tucked into not only the great food, but with no cricket to worry about the following day, every beverage available! Yet another late night in store.
This year Mr. Hardie donated some Jack Daniels into the mix for the Darjeeling tent, and from the early risers who arrived at the ground promptly to get a full day of cricket viewing in, to those who took it a little easier arriving around lunch time for a bite to eat and take in the lesser finals, the younger guys who turned up just prior to the Cup Final and the ceremonial opening of the champagne, the entire Darjeeling Tour party were together.
With the prospect of the Presentation Dinner in the evening, the cricket and the presentation of the prizes all done, it was time to get back to the team HQ to don our blue tour shirts , and see if by some miracle there were any awards coming Darjeeling’ way.
The gathering at the Empress Hotel of all 30 participating sides, was the usual dull affair, the same menu as the previous year, still served lukewarm, lack of bread rolls or a decent dessert in sight. Luckily we had a bottle of Smirnoff on the table to see us through the monotony of the prize giving, obligatory congratulatory speeches, which on par with 2012 were incredibly short and sweet. Onwards into the night, to enjoy the last few hours before the inevitable departure for the majority.
Waking up on the Sunday morning knowing that there will be a minibus waiting at 10am to whisk you to the airport, drives home the reality that Chiang Mai is over yet again, where has the time gone since arriving 10 days ago? Nine nights of binge drinking with three official functions, seven days of cricket and the odd round of golf thrown in for good measure, friendships renewed and the warm memories of another successful Chiang Mai sortie.
Will we be back in 2014 – MOST DEFINITELY