The Swiss U14s returned from another great tour to Cambridgeshire. Unbeaten in the first two games, they narrowly lost to the Camridgeshire County side by just 4 balls.
Below are reports of the three games in three days from different perspectives, including photos, scorecards and a summary of the individual performances.
Unable to field a competitive team on the Saturday due to league and school matches in the Cambridge area, Thriplow kindly offered to organise a warm-up match for our players in the morning. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to practice and gladly accepting the chance for the team to get to know each other better before the challenging matches ahead, we were only too keen to get outside and play.
Electing to bat first a number of the Swiss players were able to spend some time at the crease during the twenty overs. For just the loss of one wicket and retiring six batsmen the Swiss Under 14 XI posted a very respectable 149 runs.
The Swiss bowling was relatively tight on the artificial wicket with six of the eight bowlers thrown the ball claiming at least one wicket. Ruwan was the pick of the bowlers with his five wickets for just one run. After 15 overs and Thriplow having lost 11 wickets, and time running out because a senior match was scheduled for later in the day, the game came to a close. It had been a useful exercise for the team, but no one was in any doubt that far more testing days were ahead for the team.
A Swiss View by Ivo Favotto
Despite it being technically summer, the Swiss U14 team arrived in Thriplow to find cold and windy conditions. The forecast didn't offer much promise of an improvement. Nevertheless, the team arrived in good spirits and got stuck into a gruelling net session, with most of the Dads pitching in as net bowlers.
The Thriplow ground was picturesque and in fine condition. The clubhouse at the far end of the ground offered a warm respite from the increasingly bitingly cold conditions.
The Opposition came up with a cunning plan of feeding the Swiss visitors with yummy chocolate cake before the match - I suspected this was a ploy to fill their stomachs with heavy food to digest and therefore to deteriorate from the on-field performance. Just to be sure (and in the best interests of the lads of course), I had 3 pieces before taking the field as umpire! I am pleased to report that the cake didn't deteriorate from my performance (the umpire is always right of course) nor that of the Swiss team.
The match got underway on time, although by this time, I took to the field in my snow jacket! It was nice and warm and had plenty of pockets for sweaters and caps.
Switzerland batted first and were put under immediate pressure from the Thriplow opening bowler, Pilkington, who bowled well on a pitch with a downhill slope and variable bounce. He pitched the ball up to take advantage of the conditions and was rewarded with 3 quick wickets - Ruwan, Aiden and Jai - all clean bowled. After his first 3 overs Pilkington was 3-18. A touch expensive thanks to a boundary to each of his three victims but a successful spell.
Marishque entered the field and brought with him an immediate sense of calm. That laid back sense of calm belied wonderfully soft hands/wrists and steely determination. Marishque got off to a cautious start with 15 dot balls in a row, keeping out some tough bowling. The other opening bowler, Phelps, was 0-3 after his first 3 overs.
But with a change of bowling, Marishque exploded into action with 3 boundaries off his next 6 deliveries. Those of us on the ground knew we were in for something special just from the look in his eyes.
Marishque was joined in the steadying effort by Alex who helped see off the opening bowlers with his first 12 balls being dots. Alex was also playing calmly and got his chance with the change of bowler and started to score freely. Another change of bowling however brought the end of Alex out caught trying to hit the spinner's first ball out of the park. Oh, for some patience! It was a 40-over match after all.
After a few sighters, Neil announced his arrival with a couple of quick boundaries, most remarkable to me because of the power with which he hit the ball. No, hit isn't the right word, stroked is better. Most remarkable to me because of the power with which he stroked the ball. The ball sped to the boundary.
Marishque and Neil then proceeded to an amazing partnership peppered with boundaries and smart running between the wickets, despite the quite differing speeds of the batsmen. Neil knew when to push Marishque and Marishque knew when to push back.
Both Neil and Marishque went on to post scores of 63, both caught towards the end trying to push up the scoring rate. In the end theirs was a partnership of 123, batting at times in apoplectic conditions with swirling clouds, sharp showers and at times howling winds.
By the time Marishque got out it was the 35th over and the remaining batsmen did their best to score quickly and give as much strike as possible to Neil, with Vishal doing especially well to hit singles and rotate the strike.
The Swiss team was all out in the 40th over for a total of 195 - quite a competitive score. The Thriplow fielders showed their great sportsmanship by congratulating Marishque and Neil at the end of their innings. The Thriplow fielders had been sharp and played in a good spirit. 17 wides and 12 byes contributed to an extras total of 33.
A great tea break was provided by Thriplow, including a much needed piping hot cup of tea for the umpires (and plenty of other stuff too).
After the tea break, the Thriplow batsmen came out determined to give the Swiss a run for their money. The openers batted well and sensibly, seeing off the two opening bowlers, Ruwan and Vishal without loss.
The match changed again with the introduction of Neil into the attack. His first two overs yielded 2-1, taking one of the openers and their No. 3.
The Thriplow No. 4 Philp steadied their innings and was looking ominous, rattling up a quick 30 before being bowled by Nathan, who took two wickets in quick succession.
A good run out, making up for a misfield, by Henderson, put Thriplow under pressure again. After that, each of the Thriplow batsmen got off to a good start but wickets kept falling steadily. Ruwan came back on for a second spell and took two wickets, including one off a great catch in the deep by Alex, making up for an earlier drop.
The Thriplow innings was finished off by Neil, with a terrific stumping by Duncan, whose hand speed was almost too fast for the square leg umpire.
The Swiss team fielded reasonably well. Very tidy keeping by Duncan saw only 2 byes, despite 16 wides being bowled. Thriplow was all out for 148. Switzerland won by 47 runs.
The match seemed to take forever and a 2pm start ended up with an 8.30pm finish. Nevertheless, the Thriplow hosts put on a fantastic BBQ which was enjoyed by all. The Thriplow team then handed out specially made caps to both teams to commemorate the occasion.
Coach Yeti and Manager Patrick took the boys for an extensive debrief, allowing the long suffering umpires to defrost.
A Cambridge View by Nicolas Cliffe (Thriplow coach)
International cricket came to the Cricket Meadow for the very first time on Sunday when Thriplow U14 hosted their Swiss counterparts.
Following a series of high-level negotiations, Switzerland chose to bat and Thriplow took to the field, bolstered by a small cadre of strategic ringers, led by skipper Thomas Anderson and resplendent in their new “change strip” white caps. Opening bowlers Pilkington and Phelps immediately got to work and whilst Phelps was his usual miserly self and deserved better than his one wicket, Pilkington’s devastating mix of pace and inswing was too much for the top order.
At 20 for 3 and all three clean bowled, head chef Cliffe was facing the uninviting prospect of finding the barbecue’s starting instructions AND defrosting five hundredweight of beef-burgers at least four hours earlier than planned. A mini-revival followed to 50 for 5 but off-spinner Golding, with a wicket in his first over, continued to control proceedings, using the strong wind to create drift and turn, whilst pushing the envelope of the front-foot no-ball law to its limit.
Thereafter Purimanasinghe and Wright rebuilt the Swiss innings, the one with wristy strokes through the off-side, the other playing very straight in the V with power to add. Golding, after a delightful spell but one wayward over which disappeared for 12, was then ruthlessly shanghai’ed out of the attack by his fearsome skipper, displaying a hitherto-unsuspected Stalinist streak. Anderson rang the changes in an effort to bring the game round but at 180 for 5 with six overs left, Thriplow were facing a target well in excess of 200.
The skipper’s instinct proved correct, however, when he himself removed both established batsmen for 63 apiece in successive overs to good catches from Pilkington and Woods (S) and the latter stages of the innings subsided to 195 all out, a total which had seemed unlikely only half-an-hour before (Anderson 4 for 21 in 6 overs).
A good start to the Thriplow reply was essential. Golding and Wood (S) did that just, being largely untroubled in moving quickly to 25 and it was a surprise when Golding popped a short catch to cover-point. Talisman Pilkington came and went quickly but wicket-keeper Philp joined the mercurial Woods in the key alliance and moved the score on to 72.
Philp had just started to find his range, stroking two effortless fours to the long cover boundary when he went back in Ryan’s first over to be bowled by one that kept low. Woods (S) continued to manipulate the strike but whilst the target was still within sight, no one batsman could stay with him long enough to create the match-winning partnership: Bloom, Hall and Phelps all made attractive albeit not large contributions, whilst Axon inexplicably found himself discussing the time of day in mid-wicket with his partner and then having a further discussion to decide which of them was run out.
Thriplow were eventually all out for 148 in the 37th over but in no way disgraced against a strong international side, which seriously inconvenienced Cambs U13 at Burwell on the following day.
Our thanks go to all our parents and members who helped make the day really enjoyable and successful and to Patrick Henderson, Ivo Favotto and the Swiss players and families, and coach Yeti Sinh. We hope to see them all back with us next year.
Originally scheduled as a 40-over match the steadily falling light rain in the morning forced the umpires to shorten the game to a T20. Delighted to be able to play our final match the covers were removed and Switzerland was put into bat. On a wicket showing very varied bounce and with balls often skidding though conditions were not easy for Swiss openers Jayakody and Favotto. At five an over and for the loss of only one wicket after 11 overs the situation nevertheless looked positive. However, with the departure of Favotto (29) wickets suddenly fell and it was left to Creba-Wright and Puvimanasinghe (14) once again to keep the scoreboard ticking over. The Cambridgeshire bowling was tight and few extras were given away. With Creba-Wright unbeaten on 34 Switzerland posted exactly 100 on the board after their twenty overs having lost eight wickets. Unfortunately, much of the Swiss batting had been made to look very vulnerable.
Such a total was always going to be difficult to defend and with weather conditions improving Switzerland needed to take early wickets. All went according to plan after four batsmen quickly departed for just twelve runs. Two good catches by Andrews off some steady and consistent bowling by Moriani and Puvimanasinghe, a superb caught-and-bowled by Puvimanasinghe in his double wicket maiden first over, and a perfect direct hit run-out by Henderson had the Cambridgeshire XI reeling. Jayakody and Creba-Wright were giving nothing away in their overs and the Cambridgeshire side were clearly in trouble. However, their middle order clawed their way back into the game and the game ebbed and flowed according to the accuracy of the bowling. Despite three more wickets falling at intervals, including a deserved wicket to Sinh, those periods were too far apart to cause any great panic among our hosts and with five needed off the last over Cambridgeshire were home and dry with four balls remaining.
It was a spirited effort by the Swiss team who worked well and hard for each other in the field in an effort to throttle the run rate. They faced a well-drilled opposition that demonstrated their experience in the field, the ability to bowl one tight over after another and the patience to wait for loose balls to hit with the bat. In the end it was a close final match, and the Swiss were deservedly complimented by the Cambridgeshire coaches, but it was also a match in which lessons can be learnt, and need to be learnt. There is no doubt that the Swiss team showed great promise and with the prospect of these players staying together to form the mainstay of an Under 15 team in 2013 the future looks rosy.
Many thanks to the county team and Andy Knight, the excellent hospitality shown by all, and once again to Nicolas Cliffe who helped organise another brilliant tour for us in Cambridgeshire.