Tour to Brittany, France
By David Behar and Gabriel Thomas
Sat 2 Oct Des Ormes Won by 6 wkts
They 168/7 in 25 overs (Chaturvedi 52, J.Smith 40 rtd, Gore 36*, Kidwai 4/24, G.Thomas 2/13)
We 172/3 in 24.4 overs (Shahzeb 34 rtd, Ledger 28 rtd, Kidwai 28 rtd, Mantha 25 rtd, Gore 1/15)
Michael? Where’s Michael? All gathered at the departure gate at Stanstead and no sign of Michael. Call his mobile. No answer. Relax people. He’s done this a thousand times before. Literally. He can look after himself. There he is. Rolling up to the departure gate. Unruffled, inscrutable. What’s all the fuss about? Neej orders a Ryanair cheeseburger. Why Neej, why? But very kindly shares his beer. Thanks Neej. Sharing and caring – that’s what touring with the boys (and girl) is all about. Overcast skies above Dinard and incessant drizzle. Little or no prospect of play over the weekend. Hire cars loaded. Furqi gradually accustoms himself to driving on the right. No need to rush. Arrive at our log cabins at Chateau des Ormes.
Mantha Advance Party guides us into town for first of many Breton meals. Thanks to Kavi, Ravi, Anirud and Aditya for carrying the tour logistics off with barely a hitch. Wine, crêpes, mussels and steaks – a theme for the weekend. Early to bed. Or pull out sofa.
First light. Pull the curtains. Insistent rain. Well, it is October in Brittany. Older hands plan an afternoon at the 19th hole. But cricket, cricket, miraculously cricket at least for 25 overs each, Youths/Vets retirement rules apply. Opposition 4 short as rain keeps players away, so San and Ali Raja make up numbers and KCC field 10. Slippery under foot though. Mind how you go, Tabby. Ball like a bar of soap but somehow Gabriel, the Keralan craftsman, casts his spell. Race for top wicket-taker getting tight. Furquan instead rips out the middle order. None for Tabby. San stars for the opposition. Nitin Chaturvedi shows his class. Pradeep hits the ball hard. Total of 168 looks awesome.
KCC start steady. Shahzeb accelerates. Chris, Furquan, Ravi all contribute. Not Tabby, as San bowls him with an oh so slow one! Coup de graĉe delivered by the President – a step to the off and paddle sweep for four that would make Eoin Morgan proud. Game changing moment and KCC sneak home. What’s happening in the Ryder Cup? To Jeremy’s bar for pastis and pression to find out. India keeping pace with Australia in Mohali. More steaks and crêpes, this time at La Flambé. Faultless service. What time does she finish? Nobody knows. Cognac and cigarettes into the early hours in the log-huts. First David Behar Award awarded for Extraordinary Humility – to David Behar, obviously!
Sun 3 Oct Des Ormes Won by 6 wkts
They 164/9 in 30 overs (M.Scanlon 67, Chaturvedi 42, Chaise 23, Khan 4/21, Blumberg 2/15, G.Thomas 2/42)
We 165/4 in 28.1 overs (Nayar 40, Shahzeb 36, D.Behar 32, Ledger 26, Cooper 1/25, Raja 1/29)
Day of rest but no rest from the rain. 35 overs game, further reduced to 30. Tabby’s spirits not to be dampened. Still four wickets to take him to the double. San gives him a second spell. A gem to castle the opposition’s big gun. Two more in the over and the fourth in his second last ball of the season. Tabby is unmoved, emotionless. The triumph of a Youths victory? The disaster of being bowled by San? Tabby treats those twin impostors just the same. Mike Scanlon survives the best ball to post a well judged 67. Ali Raja snares his first KCC wicket. Neej drops anchor while David and Shahzeb provide momentum. And the rain falls. Chris pitches over long off and slashes through point. And the rain falls. Ravi finishes the weekend unbeaten. Tabby caps his day by seeing us home. And the rain falls, falls, falls on the sodden but game opposition. Umpires under umbrellas. A win for KCC but a victory for cricket most of all. Bold deeds followed by warm words at the Round Table. Doses of cognac, lashings of statistics and a little humble pie. Skies clear next day on our visit to Mont-Saint-Michel, the citadel in the sea. And home.