Report by Alex Mackay
This year I travelled to Bucharest to umpire in the Transylvania Cricket League with my friend Tom Polich, the two of us supporting local cricket enthusiasts and local umpires Andrew Begg & Abdul Shakoor.
We were also joined by Lidia Kucharska from Poland (who I still rate as the best scorer in Europe) and local scorers doing the electronic scoring, Max and Osama.
We proved a good team officiating in twelve Twenty20 matches over 4 days. I personally stood in nine of the twelve matches, nearly all of which took place in temperatures of 30+ degrees, and which I admit proved to be quite tough at times.
But I survived to tell the story and would like to share some of the highlights with you.
I'd arranged to meet Tom Polich at Zurich Airport at 10am for a 12 noon flight. We both turned up early and by pure coincidence at the same time, even though Tom travelled from Zurich and I from Winterthur. Something about beeing an umpire perhaps?
A few minutes later we were all checked in on our Swiss flight to Bucharest and sailed through all the controls, providing us with plenty of time for a coffee and a chat.
The flight was uneventful and we were met by Abdul of Romanian Cricket at Otopeni Airport and waited no more than a few minutes for Lidia to arrive.
We went straight to the Cricket Romania offices for the captains & managers pre-tournament meeting where the match schedule & playing conditions for the tournament were agreed.
After the meeting we taken to check in at our hostel accommodation and went straight out for something eat at La Iancu in Otopeni (we were all hungry after our travels) where we also met some members of Ultimate CC and Cluj CC.
The location, the food, the wine & the music at La Iancu met with all of our approval, hence we would revisit this place on two further occasions over the next 5 nights.
Day two of my trip, but the first day of the tournament started early for the officials. It is only about a half hour drive, but Abdul picked us up at 8am so we had time for some breakfast and a stop at a 24 hour supermarket to get drinks and fruit for the teams.
Tom and myself got the first game between Ultimate CCC & Berlin CC going after a delay due to the late arrival of Berlin CC who had trouble getting their hire cars from the airport.
I umpired the second game, a rather one-sided affair, with Andrew Begg of Romanian Cricket, Berlin winning with all their wickets intact!
That evening we revisited La Iancu where we were treated with some more delightful music to accompany our traditional Romanian meals and wine.
Day two of the tournament meant an even earlier start. Abdul picked us from our accommodation at 7am and we grabbed a made-to-order sandwich at a 24 hour supermarket on the way to the ground. I did the first two games, Relam against two Romanian sides. The first game was abandoned due to rain with Cluj languishing at 98-6, but the second Relam won by a massive 184 runs, beating the Romanian Bears.
I sat out the third one, leaving Tom and Andrew to umpire Banease (the third Romanian side) against Berlin.
After the cricket it was a quick trip back to the hostel for a shower, don a shirt & blazer and off to Bucharest City for the official tournament dinner at a very good Indian Restaurant with superb Chicken Tikka, Onion Bhajis and other dishes all washed down with a couple of beers.
On day three of the tournament there were four games scheduled so we had an even earlier start, being picked up at 6.30am.
I got the first game started with Tom at the other end. The pitch and outfield was a bit damp still, Cluj winning this all Romanian affair.
Second game I umpired with Andrew again, Ultimate winning with the loss of just one wicket.
The third game I sat out and we let the two local umpires officiate Ultimate versus Kiev.
To round off the day I umpired the last game and my third of the day, with Tom. Banease beat Kiev, our host, Abdul playing behind the stumps for Banease CC.
That evening La Iancu was closed for a private function so I had a beer and ate the cold meat and cheese I had bought for the next day's breakfast!
The fourth and last day of the tournament was Finals Day, with two semi-finals and the final which turned out to be Cluj CC versus Relam CC.
Lidia and I decided to go on the same free shuttle service provided by our accommodation as Tom who had a much earlier flight. Just 5 minutes down the road we waited for Tom to check-in his baggage (took just 5 minutes - the advantage of business class).
With time to kill we bought some souvenirs and went for something to eat, the worst and most expensive meal during my stay!