Montagu Tollers at Saumur – 10 years on and still going strong

2 special occasions on this windy/overcast/sunny/rainy week-end: Saumur CC turns 25 and our friendship with Jon Ralph’s Montagu Tollers Occasionals has now reached 10 summers. Lo how some grew taller and stronger while others just grew older and greyer… (or bolder)

So it was with much anticipation that we prepared for these 2 days of friendly/competitive cricket (Saturday’s match always being THE special one). Our Saturday side is now rather well settled, but we also had Becky back from her first year at Uni in England. Some matches on home turf will help her prepare for this year’s euro tournament.

For a change, Cap’n Peter want us to field first, just to see how we could chase. Incisive bowling from Arif provided early breakthrough with fine dry support from Talha at the other end. After 2/12, Barney Hayward stabilized the Monties and was on a nice roll, but was bowled (38) by Becky after trying to hit her hard again after 3 consecutive boundaries (3/60). And this wicket proved to be the turning point. The rest of Monties wickets fell for 33 runs, all in all a rather tidy fielding/bowling performance.

Our innings needed to be a cautious one, waiting for bad balls (chase a low total can be tricky, I can remember us losing to Le Moulin CC in 2009 after bowling them out for 50… but not at home!) and cashing in extras. We got indeed these 2 categories, but not from Rolf Merchant and Jaimie Ralph! Tight lines and good pace tend to restrict the free scoring of runs… Sharp running on singles and byes do the trick then. Fred Kindom and Richie Cooke (on his first trip to Saumur) had more difficulty with their aim, and we shamelessly exploited that. Solid knock from Peter, captain’s innings, 22*, and Eimal closing the match with a 6 that could have been caught if the wind wasn’t blowing the wrong way! Saumur 94/4 in 21 overs, win “le grand match de l’année” by 6 wickets.

Drinks with/without alcohol all round for celebrations of our continued relationship! Saumur have one hand on the trophy. Sunday’s game to determine the final result.

Weather… Rain wasn’t supposed to start until 6pm, but that proved rather inaccurate. In our Sunday XI, we welcome the arrival of Shakir, Hassan and Lahik, who will bring different skills to the team. They will need more training to be fully operational, but they were thrown directly at the deep end. Saumur batting first.

Bachir and Becky opened, and were going nicely, building a fine platform. Umpiring with me, Gurdeep was even fancying a 200 total (in his defence, when the openers are on a 55 partnership, you tend to forget the vagaries of our pitch – and the yet incomplete set of skills of some players). But Jon got Bachir (35) ct & b 1/67 and Jack caught Becky (22) off Fred’s bowling shortly after 2/69.

And then a collapse! Lahik b Fred 0; Hayat ct & b Jon 0; Shamir c Jack b Fred 0; Gurdeep lbw Jon 1. 6/87 after 18 overs.

I hadn’t expected to bat, but Peter needed le mur so I took off my coat and girded myself. Seemed like a replay of the first match of the season. Rescue detail. With this difference that facing Rolf and Jaimie is a long way more challenging than our friends from Petosse. Arif made progress and was very watchful for his 16 runs (from 27 balls) until being bowled by Rolf 7/102. No luck for Peter this time (ct & b Richie 1 – his 1st wicket at Saumur). Shakir scored his first runs carefully. After dragging proceedings down to the 31st over, Fred got me playing on – 9/124. Shakir and Omar could only add 1 more run. 125 all out can be defended on this pitch – been done many times.

Monties openers started cautiously, as Hayat and Shakir bowled nicely (except when trying fun things a little too early). But the rain arrived very early (about 4pm) and play had to be interrupted on the 1st wicket falling, 6 overs 1/23.

After that it was stop – resume – stop – resume – come on that’s enough. Jack (55*), on the other hand was having a fun time, hitting the soap ball to all parts of the ground. Play abandoned after 17 overs 2/85 – no result/draw, call it what you will!

Miserable and wet curtain on this great week-end of cricket. Until next year, for the continuing adventures of Saumur vs Tollers!