Far away across the sea, past wild rocky Brittany, the Bay of Biscay, the mountains of Spain, behind an unprepossessing gate next to a grocers’ shop, is a little cricketing paradise. This is the Oporto Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club and for the fifth year of asking, the Judd Street Tigers CC visited to play.
Flights from all parts of London descended during that week and by early evening there was enough to warrant the despatch of every kind of animal you can think of at a Brazilian Barbecue restaurant. Every kind of meat was brought to the table on skewers, rabbit, chicken, antelope, pangolin, beef, turkey twizzlers, all washed down with free
cachac, cahc, cahk, free cocktails. Every part of the Amazon basin seemed to have been scoured for protein and the Tigers went back to the club sated.
Then they decided to go the pub but the gates were locked and the old synapses, slightly slowed by a case of Dao, couldn’t quite organise an exit.
a Pangolin tries to hide from the Tigers. Unlucky, pal.
Still, at least they would be fresh for morning.
I have no idea who won the toss but suspect it was Stew, anyway the Tigers were batting. Jim Shea and Chris Wright opening against some accurate and occasionally quick bowling. Jim played on, Richard Burgess missed a straight one after missing a lot of wide ones, Stew was well caught after nearly getting sconed and suddenly the Tigers were in trouble at 34/3. Then Damien Stafford was run out for four. Then Simon Warren strode to the crease and lo, there were some boundaries but Chris Wright’s patient innings came to an end for 10. The spinners came on and Simon took advantage, supported by A Grizzled Veteran their partnership was 55. But after lunch the Tigers slumped from 108-5 to 139 all out, with only three men, Simon, Steve R and Wrighty getting into double figures, Simon leading the way with 43.
Still there was the chance of redemption in our bowling, or so we thought. Porto were soon 27-2, with two batsmen dismissed by in a hostile spell by Ali, one bowled and one caught behind, with Patel on his way to hospital for seven stitches after he decided to take on a short one without a helmet. But skipper Weeks and Mackay offered only a couple of difficult chances and ground and flashed their way to 141.
Then a splendid dinner at the club, involving lamb shanks (more meat) local wines, Eurovision campery, a pissed Scouser/Manc/Woolyback, snooker, port, more port, port, oh I don’t mind if I do, a bottle you say Damien? How kind…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
The Tigers were surprisingly very thirsty on the second day.
Many glasses of water were sought, coffee, orange juice and then cricket… this time the Tigers fielded first and what a transformation! Porto were reduced to 98-5, including Wrighty running out Portugal’s only lady cricketer. Such a gent. It won’t be the first time he’s left a lady disappointed by just missing out on a couple of inches.
Unfortunately that just brought Raghu to the crease and he made mincemeat* of the Tigers bowling, despite some great catching behind the wicket by Stew Taylor (5 victims in all) and another run out by Matt Webster. Porto declared on 240-9. Had Luff took 2-34 and Ali 2-42.
And then the Tigers succumbed to tiredness. Within two and a half hours including tea, the Tigers were dismissed for 81, with Luff, Warren and Chris Folley being the only batsmen into double figures with 12 each. Mark Weeks took 4-11.
Then the team went off for dinner by the sea for some piscine protein, working their way through Tiger prawns, squid and a giant sea bream. And some wine. Oh yes. Some even braved the karaoke.
Then on Monday a visit to Portugal’s largest winery (Cockburn’s) which was curiously invisible to taxi drivers and on to a magnificent lunch at Taylors, save our own Stew Taylor who was unable to move due to injury. The set menu appropriately featured duck.
Match 1: Tigers 139 ao (Warren 43, Rennie 11, Wright 10), Oporto LTCC 141-2 (Ali 2-54)
Match 2: Oporto 240-9 (Luff 2-34, Ali 2-42, Wright 2-45) Tigers 81 ao
So thanks to all players, WAGs**, organisers, Portuguese caterers, wine merchants, TAP, Ryanair and British Airways. Same time next year?
*This is an Italian cookery gag
** Especially those who came along, I mean, there’s dedication for you.