Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cricket in Colombia

I've mentioned the sport, cricket, a few times on this blog and in other places related to life in Colombia.  I played fairly regularly as a child in school up until the age of 16 or so, and have always taken an interest in the international game, of which my highlight has to be managing to get into Old Trafford on the last day of the 2005 Ashes test match, when 25,000 people were locked out of the packed stadium.  I pushed in the queue to get in, which is rather shameful, but would I do it again to witness the game come down to the final ball, definitely.  Anyway, this most quintessential of English sports has become quite a big fixture of our expat life in Cali over the last few months.

Peter Martin's great design work
Thanks to the many hours of organising by David Muirhead, Cali was able to host its first 'competitive' cricket game since 2002 against Bogotá last weekend.  The build up involved several fairly rigorous (depending on how old you are!) training sessions under the watchful eye of resident Aussie, Tony Carter, and even some net sessions at the restaurant in Rozo.   Arrangements were made for the British Ambassador, John Dew, to come down, t-shirts and caps embroidered with the new logo, social events planned, and eventually, the weekend arrived.  Captain Dennis Jarvis even gave strict instructions to the welcome party to get the Bogotá boys out on the lash in Cali on the Friday evening, in an attempt to cripple their batting line up the following day.  3am phone calls enquiring about the whereabouts of people's kit seems to ensure that was done to good effect.

Getting to the Colombo for the game may have involved a failing convoy of various overloaded vehicles and a few beers, but Friday's rain held off and the 20/20 version of the game was quickly under way with Cali winning the toss and putting Bogotá into bat.  The first over featured 2 sixes as the openers aggressively took on the Cali attack, but Andy Jarvis quickly replied with 2 wickets in the following over. A few chances could have been taken but the middle order ploughed on to take the score to 109/3 off 9 overs, a good building block for the rest of the innings.  Wickets continued to fall, until an impressive last pair stand by a passing traveller in the team and an imposter from the Cali crew, taking their score to a mighty 189 all out off the 20 overs.

Andy Jarvis batting
The Cali innings got off to a decent start with John and Tony, but two wickets in an over, including my own for a very irritating golden duck, were then followed by a middle order collapse.  John scored 44, and then Andy Jarvis took on the Bogotá attack with the tail, scoring a potent 32, but the lack of any partners was always going to prove problematic with Bogotá's bowlers on top form, the nomadic traveller making his mark with a 5 wicket haul.  We were all out for 98, giving the Bogotá team a resounding victory in the 'warm up' game.

We then headed off to the Carlos' residence for some wonderful hospitality to relax after the game.  The delicious paella was swished down with lots of booze, a bit of kareoke and dancing was also had, and all in all , a bloody good time was had by everyone!

Post game social at Carlos'
I then had to leave on the Sunday, so wasn't able to take part in the game, but from what I understand, the Bogotá team very much left their hungover heads on the hostel pillows.  Batting first again, they wilted in the hot Cali sun, and were all out for 133, letting Cali romp to victory by 9 wickets.  John and Tony Carter each scored half centuries and Tony was then named 'Man of the Match,' a fitting way to mark his last outing for the team before he leaves Cali.

Some turned up just to support, others helped out with the hospitality, some just played, but everyone got involved with the event and I think I can speak for everyone that came in saying a great weekend was had by all.  Rumours are already flying around about getting a rematch set up for November in Bogotá, I'm sure they'll want to take us on at altitude. Cricket may have its home back on village greens in England, but a football pitch in tropical Cali, Colombia, didn't prove too bad a venue I must say!

I'm back in England now, planning my cycle trip from Barcelona to Milan, starting in 2 weeks.  I'm then working in a summer language school before heading back to Cali again in August, for another year...or so!  Follow me on Twitter @latino_dave for ongoing updates on these adventures...