By James Herron
So, this will be my final blog as on Saturday evening we fly back to the UK (but, not without one last breakfast, a dip in the pool and a trip to a place called The Boatyard – lots of water based activities apparently!).
As for out last full day on the island we woke to Michael Fish telling us a 60% chance of rain all day – we never saw a drop! We played our final game at Isolation Cricket Club located 30 mins from our hotel on the north east of the island and a place John Pigott knows very well having captained the a Worcestershire (veterans) side there a couple of years ago. We were due to play at Queens College, but as their pitch was still wet we had the opportunity to play our Thursday game which had been washed out – as you will see from the pictures this was without a doubt the most scenic ground I have had the pleasure of taking a team – breathtaking views looking onto the atlantic coast.
Isolation CC are clearly used to receiving tourist sides – their clubhouse is wall to wall with caps, pennants, brochures and pictures of touring sides that have played there previously – we donated a pennant, shirt and cap and look forward to Walmley having made its small impression on the club for many years to come. Five years ago England were having a practice game here, today it was us.
The game itself was 30 overs – Isolation scoring 207 with the notable performance from Max Southgate (6-0-26-2). Our chase and batting was typified by a stunning knock of 70 from Sachin Dubb – I have known Sachin since he was 6 and keep thinking I have seen the best of him, well today I was proud to witness an onslaught of batting, the cleanest of hitting (especially off the back foot) which included 6 x 6s – it was a privilege to see. Unfortunately, whilst he had able support, a couple of shall we say dubious LBW decisions went against us and we eventually ran out of batting partners 30 runs short – a pretty good effort against a side of adults.
That was it. The end of the cricket side of the tour – reflections were had, best memories were shared in a team meeting on the outfield (which shall stay within the tour) as was the bad one – which was losing the game – simple really. Whilst we waited for the bus to collect us, a game of one hop started, I presented some of their local boys (who came to the club straight from school) a side arm and some new cricket balls – you should have seen their faces! It was the least I could do – easily replaced for us, but a valuable cricket gift to these boys. At the same time, we watched a 9-year old effortlessly run lap after lap of the boundary – a star in the making while our lads were also intrigued to discover one of the opposition was a World 100m junior sprint champion in 2014 – even had his own Wikipedia page! Now he enjoys a beer to three too many!
The evening was spent at Oistins – an area on the South East of the island where the locals and tourists come to party for the night, where food and drink are served everywhere and music fills the ears just as much – a great way to spend the last night in Barbados and a chance to also thank our very own chauffeur (Paul) who has been at our beckon call all week – all the lads put their hands in their own pocket to make that contribution.
Back now in the hotel room, I am trying to summarise the week – it’s not easy and I won’t do it justice, but all the lads have represented Walmley to the highest level, for that I am sure. Our Chairman, committee and members can all be proud as to how they have behaved and showed the club in the most positive of light – they have been exemplary. As for a summary, I said to them today after the game to remember this moment, the setting, being with friends, having a laugh, great banter between them all just being in the moment – cricket has given them all of this and has played a significant part in their development to being young men we can all be very proud of – it’s a game that delivers so much, sometimes more off it than on it and this week has exemplified that.
At 8pm tomorrow (midnight UK time) we leave Barbados – the most friendly and genuine people I have met, they have played a huge part in the tour, but our lads have been terrific across everything they have done, they leave with their heads held high knowing they were part of a group that was the first international touring side to represent Walmley abroad. I am sure they will wear their pink shirts with pride.
When I was youth chairman I had a phase for parents when trying to summarise the club – it was all about “giving as many children, as many opportunities, as possible to play the game.” I think we achieved this over the course of the week.
Time for bed and trying to get up for 5am for a certain world cup final. C’mon England!