On Thursday evening we all arrived in Copenhagen with an air of excitement, uncertainty, nervousness and apprehension as we were not sure what was in store for our team over the next gruelling four days.
In the first match we played the pre-tournament favourites Holland. George G and Manish L opened the bowling but after eight overs they were 64-0 and it looked like Holland would score 175 to 200 from their allocated overs. Arjun V had different ideas and bowled an impressive spell of 2-35 from his allocated four overs. He was ably support by George G (4-1-25), Manish L (4-0-20), Simon H (4-0-30), Moaz B (2-0-18) and Marishque P (2-0-20), and as a result we were able to restrict Holland to a respectable total of 152. Callum H and Simon H opened the batting for Switzerland and continued their recent impressive form. They made a watchful start and after the initial overs picked up the tempo in an opening stand of 58 from 9 overs. Callum H was the first wicket to fall, caught out for 32. His innings included three 4s and two 6s. Osama M joined Simon H and they continued where Callum H had left off, in a second wicket stand of 57. They both batted impressively and after fifteen overs and the score on 107 for one, it looked like Switzerland would win the match. The Dutch side fought back and claimed three quick wickets in the 16th and 17th overs. Simon H scored 35 including four 4s. Osama M scored a well-constructed 21. As a result of these setbacks Switzerland’s George G and Manish L had to rebuild the innings and we were eventually left needing an unlikely 22 to win from the final over. Manish L dug deep and hit two 6s early in the over and for a moment it looked like Switzerland had a chance of victory, as they needed five from the final two balls. In the end the Dutch team held their nerve and they won the match by 4 runs in a very competitive and tight finish. At the Man of the Match ceremony Simon H was awarded 2 points and Manish L 1 point.
After lunch we played against Belgium. Switzerland batted first and got off to a flying start with Callum H on 25 not out after the first three overs. Simon H was the first wicket to go for 17, with the score on 71 after 12 overs. His patient innings included one 4. Callum H was joined by Osama M and they quickly accumulated 27 runs for the second wicket before Callum was eventually run out for 52, by a direct throw from the deep. In his innings he scored four 4s. Unfortunately, towards the end of his innings he strained a muscle in his forearm causing him discomfort and pain when he tried to hit the ball in the air. George G joined Osama M and they built an unbeaten and impressive partnership of 44. Osama scored 34 which included four 4s. George G scored 10. Switzerland’s final score was 142. When Belgium came out to bat George G (2-17), Arjun V (2-20) and Simon H (1-17) all bowled well and had them at 68 for 6 after 11 overs. At this point it looked like Switzerland would win the match comfortably. Belgium’s lower order batsmen clearly had other ideas and it was left to Moaz B (0-11), Ashwin V (0-21) and Darren L (0-11) to make sure Switzerland won the match, which they did when Belgium finished 11 runs short. At the Man of the Match presentation Callum H was awarded the Man of the Match and 3 points and George G 1 point.
The next day was a rest day for us, and as a result of the heavy rain the night before, we spent the late morning and afternoon in Copenhagen before returning to practice at 5pm.
The weather forecasters had predicted rain on Saturday night at around 6pm, but unfortunately, they underestimated the extent of the rains and at approximately 7pm we had a most spectacular tropical storm, which we found out later, deposited 150mm of rain in the Copenhagen area in less than three hours. This amount of rain normally falls in two months.
Following all the rain of the night before it was impressive that proceedings commenced on time on Sunday morning. Our first match was against Denmark. Denmark won the toss and elected to field. Callum H and Simon H opened the batting for Switzerland. Unfortunately for Callum H, the injury he incurred the night before returned after just three balls and therefore he was left with the choice of either retiring or trying to score quick runs. Both Simon H and Callum H had departed before we had posted 20 on the board. Disappointingly for us the next seven batsmen could only score 42 runs between them. The only other batsman to get in to double figures apart from Callum H was Arjun V, who also scored 12. We were finally bowled out for a below par total of 74 in the nineteenth over. This was our first batting failure of the season. For our team to have any chance of victory we needed to take early wickets. George G (2-21) responded by taking two wickets in the first over, one to a spectacular running catch from Ashwin V. Simon H (2-15) and Arjun V (1-8) bowled really well, but our total was at least 25 runs short and Denmark comfortably won the game with more than four overs to spare. At the team meeting after the game we talked about the need for our middle and lower order batsmen taking responsibility for constructing an innings, which would then allow the team to complete their allocated overs and post a competitive score.
After lunch our fourth match was against Luxemburg. George G and Manish L once again shared the new ball. Luxemburg had two very good opening batsmen. In fact, T Barker, was the Player of the Tournament, and we found it very difficult to dislodge them. Simon H (1-14) finally made our first breakthrough in the 10th over. Vishal M (1-20) had his first bowl of the tournament and bowled really well. He was ably supported by Arjun V (0-15), Manish L (0-24) and Darren L (0-9) and as a result we were able to restrict Luxemburg to 109 from their allotted overs. Callum and Simon H once again opened the batting for Switzerland. Early on in his innings Simon H tried to deflect a ball to third man and got the finest of nicks to the keeper. Although the umpire did not hear the nick, Simon H did the right thing and walked, as he knew he had made contact with the ball. Callum H was the next wicket to fall. He batted patiently, keeping the ball on the ground. However; the first time he tried to play the ball over the infield there was no power in the shot, due to his injured arm, and he was easily caught at mid-off. Osama M and Neil W (11) then combined in a brisk and productive partnership of 24. At the half-way stage we were 38 for 3 and well behind the run rate. Following the team meeting, after the match against Denmark, Moaz B said he wanted to bat at the fall of the next wicket. Once at the wicket Moaz (10) introduced a sense of urgency to our play and with the help of Osama M both of them changed the momentum of the game. Once Moaz was out, Osama was capably supported by Manish L (9) and Ashwin V (10). The match was evenly poised when the final five overs were interrupted by rain showers. Once we returned to the field Osama M (34 Not Out) guided the team to victory with just one ball to spare. He was also awarded 2 points at the Man of the Match presentation.
Our final match was on Monday morning against Denmark B. Switzerland batted first. Simon H and Marishque P opened the batting, in place of the injured Callum H. Marishque P (15), Osama M (11), Moaz Butt (14) and Arjun V (10) were the only players to reach double figures and we were finally bowled out in the 19th over for another disappointing total of 89. If Switzerland were to win the match, they needed to bowl well and that is exactly what they did. George G (1-20), Manish L (1-15), Arjun V (0-12), Simon H (1-10), Vishal M (1-10), Marishque P (0-11) all bowled very well. This meant Denmark B needed 8 runs to win off the final over. Osama M, who had been drafted in as a substitute keeper in Callum H’s absence, volunteered to bowl the final over with Neil W replacing him behind the stumps. In a tense finish Osama M ended up with figures of 1-5 and we won the game by two runs. Again Osama picked up 2 points at the Man of the Match presentation.
It remains to be said that special mention should be made of much of the fielding. Neil W did a wonderful job in the covers and his athleticism and agility saved more than a handful of runs. Moaz B will stop anything, he took three excellent catches and showed great courage against some hard hitting. Darren L at midwicket, with his quick gathers on the run kept the opposition’s running to a minimum and his catch against Denmark B kept up our hopes that perhaps we could defend our low total. Arjun V at point, our Mr Reliable, cut off numerous runs, while Ashwin V took several wonderful catches and with a direct hit got a crucial run out in the Belgium match. Manish L was lively and alert at mid-on, got a stunning run-out against Holland and took the vital catch against Denmark B to seal our two-run victory. Belgium also learned the hard way that hitting a ball hard to George G and taking a quick run will often lead to a run out from a direct hit. All in all there were some highly commendable performances in the field.
In conclusion, if someone had asked me before the tour had begun what I considered to be a successful tournament, I would have said I hoped we would be competitive against Holland and Denmark, but I did not expect us to win either of the matches. With regard to the remaining matches I believed, if we played to the best of our ability, we could win them. We achieved these objectives, by finishing third in the tournament, and therefore I believe it was a successful tournament for a team that is not only relatively young and seldom plays together, but also includes some players who have a great deal less opportunity to play on a regular basis than others. It is also worth noting that half of our team will still be eligible to play for the U15s in next year’s tournament.
On the plus side; following the narrow defeat to Holland on the first day, we learnt from this experience and showed great character and held our nerve to win two very close games with Luxemburg and Denmark B on Sunday and Monday. I think the tournament also highlighted to us areas we need to work on and improve if we want to be a consistently improving side. But surely this is the purpose of such a tournament.
So finally, I would like to say to everyone involved in the tour. Thank you very much for your hard work and well done for finishing third in a very competitive tournament. The closeness of the final results (we finished equal on points with Denmark but lost second place to them on the basis of their slightly superior run rate) indicates to me that, if we are indeed able to improve our game, we could win the next tournament.