Five of the eight playing tourists who will be defending Darjeeling Cricket Clubs honour at the 27th San Miguel Chiang Mai Cricket Sixes, resplendent in the new Club blazer
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
Darjeeling Tea Leaves were the first to see action in the Bowl competition facing the Clifton Hill Tom Cats in a mid afternoon encounter, with Chris Dommett winning the toss and electing to bat, opening with himself and Andy Tideswell and although scoring steadily with the loss of no wickets, boundaries were few and far between, until the fourth over when AT was caught and bowled for 10 of 9 balls, Tyson joined Chris not to face a ball with Darjeeling finishing on 45 – 1 of 5 with Chris 26 not out of 20 balls, definitely not enough runs on the board! As expected Clifton Hill knocked off the target within 3 overs with only the loss of 1 wicket, the match against Thai Thevada the following day had now become a must win game.
The Tea Leaves on at 10:55 on the Wednesday morning faced the youthful exuberance of Thai Thevada, with Darjeeling in the field they needed to restrict the kids to as small a total as possible, so tactics were employed to see how they could hand the spin of Stuart Matthewson for the first over and Mike Terrington for the second, hoping this would lead to a couple of quick wickets. It was not to be with Thevada racing to 27, Ron Jones then claimed a valuable scalp in the third over 41 -1, Charl Botes then cleaned out the other opener for a tight over of 8 – 1 and Tyson Barrington finishing the bowling with only 11 of him, Thai Thevada 60- 2 of their 5 overs and a target the Tea Leaves could chase down.
Opening with Tyson and Chris, Chris going for 2 caught and bowled on the 4th ball – disaster, bringing Ron to the crease, after 3 overs the Tea Leaves were still in the hunt with 40 on the board, with the fourth over going for 15 the Tea Leaves could smell that elusive first victory and with Ron blasting a four of the third ball of the last over Darjeeling were home with a potential Semi Final in the offing, dependant only on the result of Thai Thevada v Clifton Hill Tom Cats.
Friday came too soon for the early game at 10:10 between Darjeeling and Bashundara Cricketers, who elected to bat, and over the course of 5 overs put on a stunning display of batting to amass 105 – 1 with the Darjeeling response well below par only reaching 39 – 4. Their game in the afternoon was a now a vital must win against the Redland Tigers at 14:50!
In between the Darjeeling games the Tea Leaves fate was decided as the Tom Cats failed to defend a low total of 53 against Thai Thevada chasing down the score in the fourth over, Tea leaves missing out by a bonus point!
With the showdown now at hand with Paul Sackley winning the toss and putting the Tigers into bat, who proceeded to amass 95 – 1 of their five overs. With a short break in between innings Darjeeling opening with the pairing of Brian Scholtz and James Grisdale, saw Jim back in the hutch after a communication error saw him run out, with Paul Sackley blasting 3 sixes in the fourth over after Brian had retired for 30, Darjeeling were still short by 22 as the last ball was delivered, the Tigers progressing into the Semi Finals.
Both teams now out of the competition and a forced rest day with no cricket between them on the Saturday!
So with the weekend out of the way and the delights of Chiang Mai explored the Tourists had to focus on the weeks work ahead with Sunday seeing both Darjeeling teams in action, with back to back pairings close to lunchtime. The 1st’ were taking on the Ios Malakas and the Tea Leaves with the unfortunate task of facing the Redland Tigers, one of the strongest sides in the tournament.
At the appointed hour, captain for the 1st team Paul Sackley lost the toss and the Malakas elected to bat. Opening the bowling with Gris, conceding 16 runs, with 2 wides and a no ball accounting for 10 of those runs, Brian Scholtz bowled the second over with two dots balls to start with a six of his 5th ball ruining his tight over. Jon Houghton went for 22 in his over with 3 sixes and a four, Julius Mooney first four balls only yielded 3 runs with a six and a four of his last 2 balls, Ash Banerjee bowled the final over with 62 on the board, his first ball going to backward of square for four, then success as he cleaned bowled the Malakas number 10, their number 11 got a top edge into the face and had to retire with Ash finishing his over for 7 – 1, and Darjeeling had a target of 69 to chase. With a strong opening pairing of Gris and Brian, Brian retired for a 12 ball 30, Gris blasted a 9 ball 26 with Jon making his cameo appearance for 1 off 1 to reach the total in 3.4 overs and seal the first win of the week.
With the 2nd Skipper Chris Dommett also managing to lose the toss Redland Tigers decided to have a bat, literally blasting the Tea Leaves out of the park scoring 105 – 1 off their 5 overs with the wicket of Trent Conwell falling to George Appleton caught in the deep by Ron Jones. The Tea Leaves reply of 44 – 3 in their 5 overs showed the frailties in their batting line up.
Monday saw an early start for Darjeeling, the first game of the day at 9am taking on the Perth Postels, with Sackley once again losing the toss and being put in the field. Sticking with the same bowling line, up the Postels got away to a good start, with Gris being wayward and gifting 20 extras through wides, his consolation of bowling a straight one and cleaning out one of the opener. The remaining bowlers kept it tight and only yielded 28 runs, the Postels finishing their 5 overs for 53 – 1. This time round, and the promise of a round of golf in the afternoon Darjeeling openers Gris and Scholtzy finished it in 3.2 overs reaching 54 in 10 balls apiece with Gris scoring 26 to Brian’s 20.
The Tea Leaves had a slightly later game at 10:25 and took on the Divine Felons from New Zealand, Chris Dommett’ double headed coin again letting him down, opening with debutant Charl Botes who after a nervous couple of wides settled down to bowl a reasonable over going for 17, Tyson Barrington going for 13 in the next over and Ron Jones picking up a wicket, a stumping by Chris but still yielding 16 runs. Stuart Matthewson still smarting from the previous days onslaught by Redland Tigers had a point to prove and snaffled the ex Kiwi Test player stumped again by Dommett, with his first ball, and getting Ross Ormston caught in the deep by Ron of his 5th ball finishing on 7 – 2, Mike Terrington bowling the last over went for 16 with the Felons finishing on a respectable 70 – 3. The Tea Leaves proceeded to attempt the run chase with Charl Botes run out for 1 and Chris cleaned out for 4 with only Tyson reaching double figures with 16 of 11, Ron scoring 9 of 9 leaving Terrington and Matthewson to see out the game with a partnership of 8 to leave the Tea Leaves floundering 21 short.
Tuesday saw the final games in the initial group games with Darjeeling taking on the Surrey Vagrants and the Tea Leaves facing the Clifton Hill Stray Cats, thankfully both at respectable times. Sackley for once got the rub of the green winning the toss and finally getting to bat first. Opening with Gris and Brian, disaster struck in the first over with Brian adjudged LBW on the 3rd ball and Gris getting snared in the deep of the last ball, Paul Lack ending up with 8 – 2. John Houghton and Paul Sackley set about repairing the damage with Sackley going for 16 of 11 in the fourth over, Houghton seeing out the innings with 24 of 11 and Julius Mooney supporting with 2 of 3, 57 – 3 as a finishing total. The bowling line up remained unchanged, Gris again gifting 2 wides with a total of 14 of the first, Scholtz pulled it back yielding only 5, Jon Houghton then bowled one of the tightest overs seen leaking only 2 runs, Surrey struggling on 25 of 3 overs, Julius Mooney then got carted for 20 leaving Ash Banerjee to bowl the death over with 12 runs to defend, it was not to be with Surrey drawing level on the 5th ball and smashing a four of the last to snatch the game.
The Tea Leaves found themselves batting in their final group game and with Dommett rested Tyson and Andy Tideswell opened, with AT going for a three ball duck, George Appleton soon to follow on a four ball duck, the Tea Leaves reeling at 10 – 2 in 2 overs. Tyson scoring a creditable 24 of 13 before being caught and bowled Charl scoring 6 not out and Mike Terrington supporting on 1 not out, Tea Leaves amassing 51 – 3 of 5. With AT taking keeping duties he was soon in the thick of it Tyson getting one to move away caught behind, Stuart again getting the batsman to charge, stumped, Charl doing the same another stumping Stray Cats reeling on 34 – 3 at the end of the third. Terrington then yielded 16 in the fourth only needing 2 of the final over finished in emphatic style smashing George for six of his first ball.
With the mathematics done the Darjeeling 1st ended up in the Cup as a best second placed group side, the bad news being they were in the group of death with Bashundhara Cricketers and Redland Tigers, with the Tea Leaves in the Bowl facing Clifton Hill Tom Cats and Thai Thevada
Getting to Chiang Mai is always an interesting event, with the Tour Party starting off in Dubliners close to Dubai International Airport with a few sociable sherberts, check in for the seven strong group went extremely smoothly, then through immigration to retire to Mc Gettigans in Terminal 1 to start the Tour in the right manner. With a short delay to the Thai Airways flight the Tourists found themselves with over two hours to get tucked in. Boarding the flight, gave the Tourists at least an hour of being alcohol free before the drinks trolley finally came round, Gris at one point during the 7 hour flight being told discretely by the Cabin Staff, that he was frightening the other passengers!!!
With no time to spare in Bangkok, except for a very quick lung burner for five of the party, we were whisked onto our Boeing 747 for the short hop up into the north of Thailand and our final destination of Chiang Mai. Touching down at 9am on an extremely warm morning in Chiang Mai, the humidity was horrific, especially after a sleepless night with countless glasses of whatever being consumed; we were transferred to our modest headquarters for the week, the Pornping Tower Hotel, located in the heart of the Night Bazaar, and close to all the local amenities.
The advance party were there at reception to welcome the new arrivals and to start proceedings for the first traditional event of the Tour, especially for the Tour Virgins (Jonathan Houghton & Julius Mooney), this consists of a ritual of making them drink a half bottle of Sam Song Whiskey, equivalent to most normal tastes, of downing undiluted paint stripper. With welcome speeches and event etiquette covered over a few cold sociable Chang’and Singha’, it had reached midday and the lads were left to their own devices prior to Captain’Cocktails at The Lotus for 7pm.
Captain‘ Cocktails is the second tradition in the Darjeeling Chiang Mai calendar, where we gather at The Lotus to partake in Mai Thai’s and nibble on various Thai culinary delicacies, the benefit to the Tourists being that the Club Captain pays!! For that two hour period it allows the Tour Party to bond and get to know each other, before heading of to explore the wonders of Chiang Mai’s nightlife.
Saturday morning saw only five of the Tourists head of to the golf course, with AT starting off well by having misplaced his phone and wallet, we finally got away 15 minutes behind schedule to arrive at Maejo Golf Resort with still plenty of time prior to out 11.45 tee time. Rather than splitting into two groups it was unanimously decided that we would all stay together as a five ball and hire carts to get us around the course, with competitions terms decided and financial remuneration agreed we got underway. Five hours, ten beers and some ordinary golf having been played, Chris Dommett took the honours, being the honourable man that he is paid for post round meal and drinks. Mindful of the time and the impending Welcome Party, we hopped back on the bus to take the 45 minute trip back to HQ.
The Welcome Party is the third traditional event, where all the participating teams are collectively together for a night of reacquainting themselves with past foes, in a good natured way of course, and to be introduced to the Team Guides for the week, Darjeeling were allocated Poy and Bee, one for each team, little did these sweet innocent Thai girls know that they had the unenviable job of looking after this group of degenerate and decrepit bunch of so called cricketers for the coming week. More welcome speeches from the Chiang Mai Sixes Committee, and as the free booze ran out so did the Darjeeling youngsters to find more exciting places to continue the festivities and think on the next phase of the tour – the cricket!