We set off on Friday evening from just by the airport for the three hour drive to Béziers, with a quick pitstop for a overpriced service station sandwich. With most of the drive done with rain falling (and much more of the stuff predicted over the weekend), we weren’t overly optimistic of much play over the weekend. We were due to play two games at the Midi cricket ground in Pouzolles, having been due to tour there a few years ago only for the now defunct Midi CC to frustratingly cancel on us on the Friday morning.
The first game was a 35-over affair against Montpellier Barracudas CC. We arrived at the transformed football ground as the lawnmower was going around, and there was even a surprise reunion as one of the opposition players happened to be a friend of Maroof Shaikh’s from India! The morning was very warm and sunny, although we knew there was rain expected in the afternoon. When Lauren Pamenter’s first ball went for six over the fence, she was probably hoping it would come sooner! A couple more lusty blows from the Montpellier opener followed in that opening over before he was adjudged LBW by the home umpire. Lauren was soon to have another LBW decision go her way, whilst Sam Phillipps at the “other end” kept the scoring rate down. Sam had an absolutely plumb LBW shout turned down (the umpire clearly having used up his quota!) and ‘deliberately’ dropped a caught and bowled to allow keeper Shriram Bhosale to get a run out. With the French hosts four down early on, we fancied our chances of rattling through them quickly. Zeeshan Dildar and Simon Eldridge were introduced into the attack and both claimed a wicket too, before returning captain Umer Razi started rotating the bowling (with all ten outfielders getting a go). Ali and Fareed hit some big shots for the hosts, boosting their score to 188. They were all out in the 28th over, with the last wicket a great run out by Maroof. There had been a wicket for the accurate Vishesh Gajjar and a couple for Umer too.
After a quick lunch, and with the clouds starting to roll in, Maroof and Khyzer Nawaz opened the batting. The two got us off to a relatively quick start, aided by some inaccurate bowling (and the wides that came from it) until Maroof was out in the fifth over caught behind as the drizzle started falling. Khyzer had been somewhat hogging the strike and this continued with his new partner Simon Eldridge. The two were struggling to rotate the strike, or hit big shots, so it was somewhat inevitable when Simon was run out attempting a second run. Khyzer and returning guest Pandian were both dismissed the following over, as a now traditional middle-order collapse started to take place. Shriram and Vishesh came together and upped the rate for a couple of overs before everyone was forced off as the rain increased. After about half an hour’s break, we went back out despite there being drizzle still falling. Sadly, this only lasted three overs until we were forced off again. It was ultimately the end of the game, with us on a below-par but not out of the game 70/4. The hosts decided to call it a draw, rather than work out any DLS result (which I’m sure wouldn’t have been in our favour!). It had been a great game played in good spirits and the relatively-newly formed Barracudas were fantastic hosts.
The forecast for Sunday was even worse and the rain started at about 8am. The ground had taken a lot of water overnight and had gone from being very dry to suddenly muddy. The astroturf pitch was sodden and with rain constantly falling we called the game off at about 11 o’clock. We started heading home, stopping for a couple of hours in Perpignan for lunch and a sport of tourism. Our thanks again to Nimes for even trying to get a game on for us, especially given their own commute to get there. Hopefully we’ll see you in Barcelona soon!
A great weekend with spirits high, despite the lack of cricket and the soggy weather. Maybe a third BICC tour to France will go better…?