Successful Swiss Under 11s tour to Middlesex

Wed, Aug 13, 2008 12:59 PM

The Swiss Under 11 team enjoyed a successful tour to Middlesex in August, winning one match and losing one, with the third ending in a nail-biting tie.

On Saturday 2nd August the tour began with a Lord's visit which included a team photo on the outfield. Meeting at Grace Gate a group of 22 adults and youngsters were ready to steep themselves in the history of the great game while walking in the hallowed halls of cricket's most famous venue. Perhaps the biggest thrill of all was pacing through the historic Long Room before walking out of the door and down the steps as so many of the boys' heroes have done before going out and playing a memorable innings for their country.

On Sunday 3rd August we were invited to watch the 40-over Hampshire vs. Lancashire match at the Rosebowl (Southampton). Despite the weather, which eventually meant the match had to be abandoned, we saw several hours of great cricket including interval entertainment by the Royal Marines, which youngsters were encouraged not to imitate! The opportunity to collect players' autographs, see some top cricket ahead of our own matches and enjoy the atmosphere of the Rosebowl went down well among the young Swiss cricketers.

Our sincerest thanks to Dave Gelling for helping to organise the day at the Rosebowl and hosting us so well before having to rush off to London to play in the Services matches.

Our first match was scheduled for Monday morning against Eastcote CC. Despite overcast and showery weather we got off to a punctual start. Hemal Wijesuriya, the Eastcote coach, made us very welcome and had organised an excellent day and delicious lunch with his team of helpers. The Twenty20 match was played on the artificial wicket due to heavy rain the day before.

Having won the toss Ross Cameron decided to field and our opening bowlers got off to a promising start taking 3 wickets in the first four overs. After containing the opposition's middle order well (Alex 2–10), some of our bowlers still appeared a little rusty after several weeks of cricket free summer holidays and Eastcote managed to pile on runs in the final 6 overs although Switzerland did manage to take all their wickets by the middle of the final over.

Their total of 114 was by no means unattainable but a poor start in which we lost 3 quick wickets put us under pressure. Simon (13) and George (9) steadied the ship, and after Simon was forced to retire the run chase was left to Michael (10) and Arnav (6), who with Anthony P ran out of overs, leaving us stranded on 84. Our hesitancy with the bat as well as some loose bowling (16 wides/no balls) was our undoing, but we were confident that the team would gel together and had plenty of potential to improve.

Result: Eastcote won by 30 runs
Eastcote 114 all out
Switzerland 84 for 8

On Tuesday 5th August we woke to a steady drizzle and a not very promising weather forecast. However, having travelled so far neither we nor our opponents Bessborough were willing to call the match off. In fact it seemed to make little difference to the boys, who all simply wanted to play. Bessborough's coach Deepan and Switzerland's Ivo Favotto got the match underway and despite some difficult conditions for the Swiss bowlers, they improved dramatically on their previous day's performance. There was more confidence and the side really began to play together. Again it was a Twenty20 format on an artificial wicket and we elected to field first.

With the throwing more accurate and quicker (2 runs-outs) and the bowling tighter (Ross 2-0/ Simon 1-2/Arnav 1-6/Tom 1-6) we restricted Bessborough to 67 for 7. Our opening pair, Ross and Arthur then put on a very respectable 46 (Ross 25/Arthur 13) to enable Simon (19) to finish the job. The final score of 107 for 4 was evidence of a vast improvement in our batting confidence.

Result: Switzerland won by 40 runs
Bessborough 67 for 7
Switzerland 107 for 4

Our last match, played on Wednesday 6th August against Harefield at the Woods Cricket Ground was a pairs match, giving each batting pair 4 overs and restricting the bowlers to a maximum of 3 overs. It was our first ever match on a grass wicket. With superb facilities, sunny, warm weather and a beautifully prepared lunch the match proved to be one of the highlights of the tour.

Winning the toss for the third time Ross put the home side into bat. Our bowling performance was first class (Tom 3-2/Neil 2-8/Arthur 2-6/Jai 2-5/Anthony 2-12/Ross 2-11/Simon 3-18), as was the fielding (3 run-outs and 3 catches). With a very alert and agile Michael Ernst behind the wicket (no byes), great fielding performances by Arthur and Anthony who gave away nothing, good backing-up and strong-arm throwing from the boundaries by Ross and Simon we kept their score to a minimum by taking 18 wickets.

However, Harefield were just as fired-up and their bowling and fielding performance was also excellent. With the run totals very close throughout the match and Switzerland trailing by 2 runs in the last over, George calmly levelled the scores on the third ball of the over. Keeping a steady nerve and seeing off the last three balls the match ended in a tie (204-204).

Result: Match tied
Harefield 204
Switzerland 204

The tie in the final match was a fitting end to a thrilling match and a memorable and very positive first tour to England by a Swiss junior cricket team. With only two players moving up to the Under 13s next season and half the team still available for the next two seasons, there is no doubt that this young team will achieve even more than they have done this year. The experience gained on this tour has strengthened these young cricketers, shown them what they can do against stronger opposition and given them something to aim for in the coming year.

Congratulations to the players for all their efforts and many thanks to the parents and families for being so flexible and cooperative. With a total of 40 persons travelling to Middlesex good company was enjoyed by all and our players returned injury-free having thoroughly enjoyed the whole trip.

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