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Journeymen tour to Luxembourg October 1/2 2016 vs Optimists C.C.

Prague

Exactly 11 Journeymen headed for Luxembourg for the last two games of the season, anxious about whether it would be too cold and whether all 11 would be injury-free for both games. On both counts, the team was fortunate, even though the ground was very wet on the Saturday following a downpour in the morning and Billingham almost succumbed to the effects of a chilli-laden pizza on the Friday evening. Named after the former Luxembourg prime minister Anglophile and cricket lover, the Pierre Werner ground was situated on the outskirts of Luxembourg city, adjacent to some farms. “Beware of the bull,” was the cry when anyone hit a six over the boundary fence.

Saturday

Batting first, the Optimists started strongly, aided by a succession of dropped catches (ranging from sitters to blisteringly difficult). Ramanathan, bowling straight and full, broke through the defences of the opening three batsmen and a tidy spell by Jarman slowed the run rate. The Optimists declared on 186, from 33 overs, which left the Journeymen a comparable number of overs in which to get the runs. Bloch was out early, but Keenlyside, after a string of failures all season, finally found some form and, with Kiernan, made sure that the chase was on. Hayes, batting at No.8, and the captain Billingham, batting at No.9, batted with power and elegance to reach the target with more than an over to spare. After a few beers outside the makeshift pavilion and a local bar, the two teams met for a curry at a nearby Nepalese restaurant.

Optimists 186-6 declared (Romil 63, Ramanathan 3-31) Journeymen 190-7 (Keenlyside 53, Hayes 37*, Kiernan 35)

PRague

Sunday

After a quick lesson in the merits of the time/declaration format by Keenlyside, captaining the Journeymen, his opposite number sportingly agreed to depart from the usual overs format, while never fully understanding the concept. Again batting first, but this time with some first team players in the side, the Optimists found the going easy. Their number 4 batsman, Vikram, hit the ball far and long to all parts of the ground (and, on one occasion, directly into a cowpat in the next field) before retiring on 102. The declaration on 199 after just 23 overs left the Journeymen with a mountain to climb. Keenlyside and Hayes fell cheaply, but Bloch looked set until a needless runout. Illingworth, who had not scored a single run in three outings for the Journeymen, received a big cheer when he got off the mark, and he then proceeded to drive, cut and hook his way to a majestic 50, to even bigger cheers from the supporters. Meanwhile, wickets were falling steadily, and it was left to the last pair of Whiddett and Jarman to hold out for a draw. The hosting side agreed on the boundary afterwards that, while they would have won on an overs format, they had all much enjoyed the tension and interest generated by the Journeymen’s style of friendly cricket. On their website the following day, the Optimists spoke of “our new friends, the Journeymen”.

Optimists 199-2 declared (Vikram 102 retired) Journeymen 176-9 (Illingworth 53, Bloch 41)

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