Cricket, again, with a bit of wine
Spent a most enjoyable Friday playing cricket with the Wine Trade XI at Colchester. We had a rather different look to our side, because of the official Wine Trade XI tour to Porto (where, I get the impression, they play just a couple of games of cricket, but drink a good deal and generally let their hair down). But the makeshift side we put together was better than many of the Wine Trade teams I have played in, which was a good thing, because Colchester normally field a very strong XI, and there are lots of runs in this pitch, which is sometimes used as a county strip.
We bowled first, and our first few bowlers were simply too good for the batsmen, who played and missed a lot but didn't get out. We finally made a breakthrough shortly before lunch, and then, in the last over before lunch, which was my first, we dislodged their best batsman off a dodgy ball (I bowled a full toss, which was whacked in the direction of the boundary, and brilliantly caught by Ollie Styles of Decanter). It's not always the good balls that get the wickets.
Lunch, as usual, is accompanied by wine we supply. Nick Oakley, the captain, brought along two nice wines that he imports into the UK. First, a red from Quinta de Sant'Ana in Portugal's Estremadura, that was ripe and generous with rich berry and black fruit. This is about £9 in independents. The second was from Bierzo in Spain, made from the Mencia variety, and it was really beautifully fruited with fresh, vivid dark fruits and no oak influence. I can't remember the name of it, but it will be in supermarkets at around £6, and as such is a great buy.
After lunch, we bowled well enough, and wickets fell, before they declared at 220-ish for 8. My figures were 6-0-21-2, which is reasonably tidy. We began our chase slowly, but as the overs ticked away, we steadily accumulated more runs. Howard Sayers was the anchor of the innings, and after a Tavare-like start he began to hit out quite effectively, and was to finish on 96. Occasional player Sam Harrop, wearing cricket whites purchased for him by that other occasional antipodean cricketer John Worontshak that were two sizes too big, hit a speedy 17 that looked full of promise. Had we not run out of overs, we would have won comfortably; in the end a draw was probably a fair result, because we really should have bowled them out earlier.
It's funny how much fun you can have on a nice sunny day, playing a game where your individual contribution isn't all that much. I guess that's one of the appeals of cricket.