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Tour of Cyprus: 30 September/1 October 2017


This was the Journeymen’s 13th overseas tour, and, as is the custom, was to somewhere we had never been before. Thirteen people signed up – although Billingham, the tour organiser, was only required for a grand total of three balls (to save the draw in the first of two games) and Douglas came to umpire (and also to attend a high-powered meeting with the Ministry of Defence). All were booked into the Royal Blue Hotel & Spa in Paphos (great setting, excellent facilities – including a lop-sided pool table, and “terrible food” (in Kiernan’s assessment).

Vs Moufflons, 30 September

The Saturday game, held on the RAF base of Episkopi, was against the Moufflons (named after a rarely seen, perhaps mythical sheep on the island). Batting first, the Moufflons played as if it was a 20-20 game and not a time declaration format. Mostly, the batsmen connected but, happily, enough of them missed straight balls – the wickets being shared between Ramanathan, Jones and Miah. Billa’s 77 helped the Moufflons to a total of 181.

In contrast to the somewhat reckless batting, the bowling was tight and the Journeymen (apart from Bloch) found it hard to get away. Time was not an issue, but as Sharma continued to pick up wickets and what looked like a manageable target soon became an issue of survival. Billingham coming in at No 12 (the captains had agreed to a 12 a side game) was required to play out – or rather, judiciously leave - the last three balls to hold out for a draw.

The Journeymen, and Richard Boxall (the Moufflons captain and tour coordinator), repaired to a bar by the beach for a few beers and presentations. “Tomorrow’s team will be better than us,” Boxall warned – an ominous sign….

Moufflons – 181 all out (Miah 3-9)
The Journeymen – 161 for 10

Match drawn


Billingham judiciously leaves the final ball of the match to secure a draw


Vs Limassol Gladiators, 1 October

….and so it proved. Once a relatively simple catch off at mid-off had been spilled in the first over, the Journeymen then contrived to drop 10 catches in all (including five off the centurion, Faheem) as the Gladiators smashed their way to 337 off their 40 overs (a record score by Journeymen opposition). It might have been more had their No 4 batsman, Azam, had not been heard to say, “Play like gentlemen, don’t try to hit every ball for 6!”. Only Mia, with four wickets, and Majithia managed to keep the run rate to anything below 6 an over.

In reply, the Journeymen again could barely hit 4s, let alone 6s, off some sharp, accurate bowling (which included 10 bowlers in the attack). Later on Majithia hit some crisp off drives and, in truth, the batting was not bad. Lucky, then, that Jarman, as captain, had agreed with the opposing captain that the Gladiators would have to bowl the Journeymen out for victory. With Jarman characteristically blocking the last two overs, the Journeymen finished more than 200 runs short of the target but could claim to have drawn against Cyprus’s second best team.

However, the Gladiators (most of them Pakistani) took it all in very good spirit and joined in for the after-match (non-alcoholic) drink at the beach bar. It was very gratifying to see a keen young team with a huge love of the sport and with such excellent technique. They all said they had enjoyed playing the game immensely.

Gladiators 337-6 in 40 overs
(Faheem 103 retired, Badiq 76, Fahad 69, Miah 4-42)
Journeymen 110-8 40 overs (Majithia 44)

The Journeymen’s cricketing weaknesses aside, it had been a great tour with plenty of camaraderie, some hotly contested ping pong matches and an excellent meal at the 7 St George’s Tavern in Paphos (prearranged and booked by Dixon).

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