RAF Wyton Cricket Club… La Manga bound
In April, the RAF Wyton Cricket Club headed off for an international T20 tournament in the Spanish resort of La Manga, in order to provide some much needed preseason training, and in what they hoped would be a blue skies and sunshine kissed environment…
Under the ‘well dressed’ leadership of OIC, Flt Lt Rob Bell, and in the company of club captain and ‘northern stoic’, SAC Danny Paton, Wyton’s cricket contingent departed on the finest budget airline operating out of Luton. On arrival in Spain, the team transferred to their shared accommodation on the sports orientated La Manga Resort, where they unpacked before conducting a quick recce of the excellent cricket facilities. A collective evening meal was then taken at an Italian restaurant, where the ‘youth’ elements of the side were educated in the works of Fellini being aired onto a large screen projector.
10 Apr 15 – In the first of two matches on day one, we played Belgium All Stars CC and, following an unheard of team ‘warm up’ and photograph, Wyton took to the field to bowl. The opposition, like almost all other teams participating in the tournament, played at a much higher level than we were accustomed to. However, despite the comparative difference in skill levels, we competed well, with notable contributions coming from SAC Nick Robinson with the ball, and later Maj Keith Barber with the bat. Losing Flt Lt Bell to a heroic sporting injury, SAC Jake Shaw was given an early opportunity to get his whites dirty, making his club debut. Alas, in the end the Belgium All-Stars took victory with relative ease.
Directed to a quick lunch by team ‘nutritionist’ Ash Ahern, we were soon taking to the field again, this time to face a Spanish Select XI. As we soon found out, their players had been picked from clubs across the country, and were using the tournament as a warm up for a subsequent Tier 3 Affiliate International tournament! Despite the obvious difference in ability, Wyton gave a good account of themselves, and survived the twenty overs against some fierce Spanish bowling. Despite Maj Keith Barber providing the sternest defensive display seen against the Spanish since Francis Drake, the UK sails were quickly deflated, the Spanish side knocking off their target in relatively quick time.
Retiring for the day, with a greater appreciation of higher echelon cricket, we were at least able to acknowledge, to a man, that we’d all stood up and been counted whilst playing out of our comfort zones, which all contributed to a great team atmosphere. Leaving the ground, the team undertook some light hearted reviews of the day’s cricket before embarking on the Danny Paton ‘Megabus’ for an evening of cultural appreciation in Cartagena town.
11 Apr 15 – Our Saturday afternoon fixture was against Findon Cricket Club, a league team from Sussex. The Wyton members had met elements of Findon CC team the previous night, and already established a good relationship with them – obviously in the ‘Spirit of Cricket! Assembling midmorning, and travelling to the ground to watch some of the more accomplished teams play against each other, we also got some much needed time in the practice nets. RAF Wyton CC’s performance was significantly improved against Findon CC, especially in fielding sharpness and bowling accuracy. SAC Nick Robinson contributed a dazzling knock with the bat to keep the score competitive, whilst Capt Sean Poff (NZ Army), on loan from Middle Earth, produced some Gandalf-esque spells of magic with the ball. Although Findon CC chased down our total, and ran out eventual winners, the spirit in which the game was played was excellent. Staying on to watch the tournament favourites, United CC, we then retired to a local ‘establishment’ to review the days individual performances, and watch the Grand National (for those with a financial stake).
In the evening, the team attended a formal dining reception at the La Manga Resort ballroom, to which all participating teams had been invited. The evening comprised of an excellent buffet dinner, and a speech from the Chief Executive of the La Manga Resort Cricket Association, which had organised the T20 event. An excellent social occasion, it was enjoyed by all, even allowing the team polyglots to interact with all the other multi-national participants in the tournament, and more importantly eat for free at the buffet provided.
12 Apr 15 – Finals day saw the RAF Wyton CC play their remaining fixture against Klemmetsrud CC, an invitational team from Norway. After two days of pitting our skills against better quality opposition, we continued to show improvement in all areas of our game. Major contributions from Maj Keith Barber, SAC Nick Robinson, and especially SAC Matty Bates (who hit the team’s first six of the tournament) contributed to the team’s highest batting score of the tournament. Sgt Jim Round, SAC Ash Ahern, and SAC Jake Shaw threw themselves around in the field with gusto to restrict the Klemmetsrud batsmen, whilst Capt Sean Poff, SAC Andy Carmon, and SAC Brady Andrews kept things competitive by taking root in ‘the corridor of uncertainty’. Despite the valiant efforts of all, the Norwegian side, through some agricultural slogging, managed to achieve the required score, winning the game in weather more becoming of Skegness than the Costas.
Embedding ourselves around the tea urn in the refreshments tent to keep warm, we watched the tournament final, which saw the Spanish Select XI take on United CC, a rival Spanish team. A pulsating encounter saw the match ebb and flow, before United CC came out the winners, much to the delight of the partisan crowd. With the Spanish sun fading, awards for outstanding individual tournament performances were handed out, whilst more importantly RAF Wyton CC won the lion share of prizes in the raffle.
Despite not coming away with a win, thanks and praise must go to SAC Danny Paton and Flt Lt Rob Bell for being the driving force behind the tour. The rest of the team should also take a collective pat on the back for their exemplary behaviour and attitude in the face of quality opposition. The lack of sun encountered in Spain, however, is surely now the driving factor behind the team’s proposal for the next tour to take place in the Caribbean!!!