Thursday 29 March 2012

The Skipper's Delight, or the perfect Corriodore cocktail

To make the perfect Corriodore you will need 14 of the finest ingredients:

A big hit of Mars as a base (caution: may give you the runs)
A dash of Sheriff Rusty for elegance (also prevents Mars giving you the runs)
A splash of Dawson's Plum (any variety will do)
A switch hit of Paulo Da Vies (for high-end appealing)
Skip this bit (unless well pickled)
A pinch hit of Swiss Torpedo (popular with children)
The last drops of Forge (turn it in for the ultimate pick-me-up)
A little Behl (for fire in the Behlly)
A generous slug of Crabbie's (really sneaks up on you)
A twist of Smurf (if unavailable then Blue Bols will do)
Barbarossa Finest Run (for that 'Aarr' factor)
A jigger of vintage Foley (for added sparkle)
A few shakes of a Panda's tail (to assure that this will catch on)
And finally a Lump of Strachan's Finest. Absolut Lee necessary and without which this cocktail would have no bite.

Blend together for two weeks. Shake up from time to time. Muddle, confound and confuse. Stir well then serve with the finest steak.


Tuesday 27 March 2012

The Curtain Closes - 27/04/12

Our Last Day on Tour

The full group - but missing Lumpy, Mars, Barbarossa and Paulo
Monday came early. It always seems to. It doesn't really matter whether you're at work or on holiday, but Monday's always sneak up and flick your ear just before you're ready to cope.

But today was different. We'd received visitors to our dorms. I don't think we're the ones that would have come off worst here as the extra body in each spare bed had to put up with the funk and fug of 7 sweaties and their mounds of festering baggage. We're not that bad. Really, we're not!

It was showtime with a wander round Santiago to discover the undiscovered bits. Santiago is beautiful and as we were led by the legendary Sergio past government buildings, statues to people the Chileans love and hate (and all in the same place, too), we were treated to a living history lession about Santiago since its foundation in 1541 - there, I learnt something.

The walk up Santa Lucia to view the city from the highest natural point in the centre was lovely. But one thing that was not, was the layer of smog that obscured the view of the mountains. By all accounts this has got worse over the last few years and you could smell and taste the pollution. It was a pity because the view is spectacular.

Mars wandered off for some shade and a bit of relief while everyone else went another way. Still, this is tour and we'd always find each other at some point. Bottom of the hill as it turned out.

Another long walk along tree-lined streets and through the centre of the shopping district (the same anywhere in the world) and an explanation that without welfare for disability in Chile there are only a few ways people can scrape a living which is why there are so many street sellers.

We were treated to the fish market which is an amazing place - variety and colour, size and shape and weirdness! Followed by the longest lunch we've had in South America. The restaurants in the middle of the fish market are apparently very good, but they are also expensive and orientated for tourist tastes. So Tatiana at La Casa Roja and Sergio had arranged a little something more down to earth that would give a proper flavour of Chile. The tiny restaurant had been warned of our arrival, they just didn't know what to do with 14 hungry sportsmen and their guide. The sushi-like Cerviche Mixta arrived first and wasn't much of a hit. 'Cold snot on a bed of slime' was an apt description. I don't know whether this was down to personal tastes, the unexpected cultural differences or just that none of it was cooked. Then the steaks arrived. 2 at a time. Cooked to order. And finally Mars got his Renaeta - a fish. And was promptly fined for being served last.

The way back was via an Earthquake bar. This is all about drinking and nothing about the earth moving... although it'll make you wobble. Think 'pint of wine and a dollop of ice cream' and you've got it. Mars ran away early suffering in the heat (the Tour Luvvy will need to remember to take a wide-brimmed hat with him the next time he goes anywhere hot, the big girl's blouse), while the hardier members of TOUR availed themselves of the facilities. And may well have suffered.

I'm now writing second hand. My first hand is tired and needs a rest.

When you think of a coffee bar in England, you think of a bar that serves coffee. In Santiago they do that but the coffee is accompanied by a lady modelling underwear, ostensibly there to help you enjoy your coffee, but not in a hands-on kind of way. I know, it's strange even writing this. In Santiago, this is not a dirty, perverted thing, it just happens to be something of a tradition. And something that really does have to be seen to be believed. Before anyone takes offence at what we may consider weird, perverse, obscene or just plain sexist, that is not necessarily how other cultures see things - even though this is a bit odd (!). Coffee bars in Santiago are full of suits drinking coffee. As it turns out the most disappointing thing about the whole experience was that the coffee was rubbish and no one in the group spoke Spanish. So how do you talk to someone if you don't speak their language and your mouth is immobile because the coffee in it has paralysed your muscles because it's horrible?! Experience is everything and there were some very confused - if not disturbed - looks on peoples' faces on their return to La Casa Roja.

We gathered. It was the last night on tour. Our last night together as a group and our last night at La Casa Roja. We did it in style. There's a pool. There's a bar. There's a cricket net. Dawse ordered pizza! What do you think we did?

I'll leave you to your own perverted imaginings of what we might have done and go upstairs to pack. We have a flight tomorrow that will take us back to loved ones who we have missed and other things more mundane that we haven't .

Give me a CHI. Give me a LE. CHI CHI CHI LE LE LE. VIVA CHILE.

Thank you to everyone who has made this whole tour possible.

To Gary Savage in BA.
To Chris Emmott, Fuzzy Walker, Tatiana and Simon in Santiago.
And thank you to Sergio - our own legendary guide, driver, friend, fixer and awesome sauce creator!

We hope to see you all again. 

Thank you to Skip for all his hard work in getting this off the ground and making it happen.
And finally, thank you to the guys. Without you this would not have happened. With you it could not have been better.

Life is good.

I am changed. But very definitely for the better.

Thine Aye,


Monday 26 March 2012

GAME 6 - Chile Masters vs Corridors, Sunday 25th March

The Last Hurrah or at least the last cricket match on the tour!

It's not easy trying to concentrate on the bowling with this going on behind the bowler's arm
Captain Mallard has waxed lyrical in previous postings about the extraordinary environment that is Craighouse. Formerly the main ground for the South American Championships; currently without water rights so there's no grass but thanks to some serious generosity and even more very hard work there's an artificial pitch that is already playing well (800 or so runs in two days); soon to have water rights and an approved need to do some serious flooding(!); it is one of the most beautiful places to play cricket that I, and probably any of us, have ever had the privilege to play.

Mountains to the left of us, mountains to the right,  into the valley of the Andes strode the 14!

To his huge pride and joy, Mars, the Tour Luvvy was given the captain's armband as Skip stepped aside and sat down with his camera ready. And the second of yesterday's heroes, one Major Lumpy the Lumpster of Lumpen Hall, Lumpenden, also sat out to rest his 4 wickety lumpness and a properly painful toe. Having already played one match here and scored over 220 runs in response to the National side in a well fought, sadly unsuccessful match yesterday, today had all the makings of the Dors first win.

'And Gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not Dors, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speak that played with us upon this Tour.' (Panda and Mars are dangerous when left with famous quotes lying about)

Mars joined oppo Skip Ian Scott in the middle for the toss; which was won by Skipper Scott who promptly asked Mars what he wanted to do. So we fielded.

With the rules ever so slightly changed to give everyone a game (retire at 30, everyone bowls at least 1 over), the Dors strode out in the shadow of those stunning mountains and with Smurf and Behly opening the attack, kept things pacy. Often pacy in the wrong direction as the score rose quickly with Mr 'Seven' Foot wielding a cricket stick that was far too short for him with unerring precision - although it did sound a little dead at times, that didn't stop the ball from racing to the boundary. His retirement on 30 meant the arrival of Nelson and, with the bowling rotating quickly on 2 over cycles Barbarossa, Forge, Panda and Dawson were quickly into the fray with Crab and Russ also throwing their oars in. Sadly a lot of the oars were wide since many Dors just haven't bowled in a match situation. It must also be noted that Crabman relinquished his wicket keeping claws to allow Paulo his first turn behind the stumps and the tour playboy was more than up to the challenge with a fine first stint.

Fuzzy (or Mr Walker to his clients) started to hit the ball with more and more of the middle of the bat and was also a retiree before things began to change. 

It was with the arrival of Messrs Campbell, Davies (having swapped his gloves with Crab for a chance to flip the ball about a bit) and York that things started to change. Swizzo snared a grown man for nearly the first time on tour - Nelson caught and bowled for 6 - and was on it again straight away trapping Scott LBW for 5. With Paulo wheeling away with his craftily flighted (and sadly underused) offies, he was very unlucky not to get a proper reward.

The skipper brought himself on with hideous memories of his last over from the pavillion end yesterday in his mind, but snared Char with his first ball thanks to an awesomely athletic crabman leap to take a one handed catch behind the stumps.

Wickets began to tumble as the scoring slowed and with a rejuvenated Smurf and Barbarossa in the attack, both picked up some great wickets - although it must be said that Smurf needs to work on his fielding. I mean, really, it's all very well diving full length to reach something, but once there, you really should catch it young man, after all you've done all the hard work. I'm being harsh, he and Dawse were both all over the field trying to take what they could! But it's the only way they'll learn - ridicule and fines! I'm being VERY harsh. Smurf was toiling in the heat and bowling with venom and accuracy. Mars was about to say, "Thanks very much, Smurf, have a blow" when our pale blue demon grabbed two wickets (his C&B and then a beauty to bowl the next man in) with the last 2 balls of his over. It's a brave... no, it's a really stupid man who tells a triumphant Smurf that he's not going to get a chance at a hattrick, so his blueness was back on moments later. Good, but not 3 in a row. Splendid bowling, mind.

With a lot of tired bodies barely stumbling round the field, the Masters score rose and with Mr Foot back on for the last over, things looked tight. But weren't. Swizzo bowling the Dors last over on this magnificent continent kept them to a minimum and we would be chasing 164 off 30 overs.

The Dors are chasers; Beer chasers; Ball chasers; sometimes we chase things we shouldn't; but we always chase runs.

This was on.

Behly and Dawse were the honourable duo to open the account and both were quickly into the action. Dawes with a classicly straight bat and high elbow and Behly on his way back to the hutch. Dors, 8-1. And the opening bowlers, Welfare and Docray (who we had met before and had form) were keeping things tight.

Thus young Paulo came of age. This thrusting North London Turk joined the Dors Dawse to give the oppo a proper LICCing. Taking no nonsense in this kind of mood and with the bowling fairly tight, they played straight, hard, across the line... hell, any way they liked and things were looking very bright indeed. Until Dawse fell on 23 and was quickly followed by Paulo on 19. (58-3)

Mars swapped the batting order round a little and those who had not had a chance to shine until now, now did. Their shines are barely tarnished as they answered their captain's call. Unfortunately, the bowling was still tight and despite their best efforts, the smighty Crab, the injured but unbowed chubby chosen one Panda and his boundary shivering timber wielder Barbarossa were back in the pavillion having flattered without deception, but also without many runs. 74-6.

And now the Pale Blue One came to the fore. It was time for an innings from the Smurf and now was that time. While Forge and he were at the wicket, everything seemed possible until Forgey went for a run that 2 games ago he would have managed without even thinking. But time and hours on a cricket pitch in the heat are not good bed fellows and his tired legs were unable to answer the call. 107 for 7 and overs were running out.

Swiss took up his mantle, strode to the wicket, dropped his mantle and then lost his castle to a ball that just didn't get up. The excuse that he was surprised that the bowler wasn't a pie chucker and he was looking for the ball in the sun was not accepted. 112-8. Very few overs remaining.

With Russ in, we were too. Smurf was bludgeoning away at the other end and it all looked good. Then it didn't. 132-9; Russ back in the hutch, bowled; 4 overs left; 32 runs needed. Mars and Smurf. Could this be done?

As with his team mates, Mars's intentions were spot on. His accuracy and judgement of line and length weren't .Unable to hit the ball off the square, it was up to Smurf to deal the killer blows, and sadly that meant taking risks. Hitting hard but high to one of the oppos younger players with extremely safe hands, it was all over. We were all out, 20 runs short.

Smurf was inconsolable. We had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory like a true England touring side.

We presented awards (Men of the Match; Smurf and Mr Foot, Pennants to the winners, beer and wine to the losers) and contemplated the essence of the tour as we stood at the foot of the Andes in the most beautiful place on earth at that moment and the very earth itself shook with celebration (6.4 at the epicentre 300 km away and about 4 where we were, apparently). It's unnerving when what you know never moves, i.e. the ground, does. But not only had the Dors successfully arrived in South America, we have played 6 games of cricket in 12 days and in two countries, including one agains the reigning South American Cup champions in Chile. Now that is cause for celebration. And yes, we really can say that the earth moved! We could even say we rocked Chile.

With a final fine session to come and a walking tour of Santiago ahead of us tomorrow, some very tired heads hit the pillows in the dormitories last night.

The results of the games may not be as we wished, but the tour has been beyond my wildest imaginings at the very least. And we've still got one more day to go.

Thank you Dors. It is an honour to play with the badge on my chest knowing I have shared this time with you.



Sunday 25 March 2012

GAME 2 - St George's vs Corridors, Buenos Aires

Corridors on Tour, 2012 – St. George’s College

We’ve been a bit tardy with the match reports. Someone’s going to get a BIG fine. Talking of which, Rusty has a sheriff’s badge and is dispensing justice with Cinzano. More of that another time. For now here’s:
Sunday, 18th March, 2012

‘Things’ as someone once said, ‘can only get better.’ And look how that turned out. Making predictions is a dangerous business but flying out to South America on the Ides of March (that’s the 14thcalendar fans) may turn out to be one of the poorer decisions of our cricketing careers. It was certainly one of Julius Caesar’s less successful days at the office. Personally I prefer ‘the only way is up’ as a leitmotif, but even that has its drawbacks. Take today for instance. Who would have thought that in the second decade of the 21st century, a touring team to Argentina could be bowled out for 85 in the first match, take a good look at themselves, analyse where they went wrong, apologise for rustiness,resolve to do better blah blahblah and then be skittled for 72 in the second? Well, given our form and history maybe we should have seen it coming. Maybe someone should have told us what was about to befall (Wyrd Sisters anyone? The Oracle at Delphi?Ladbrokes?) But even clenchedin the jaws of defeat the Corridors will more often than not take the positive. A healthy gumline for instance.A really nice smile. Or even just a lack of fillings.

For starters there were the surroundings. St. George’s College is the sort of place that teacher training students dream of before ending up at some grotty comp in Deptford. Boasting, or at least mentioning in the strongest terms, fantastic facilities on a broad and leafy campus in brilliant sunshine with enthusiastic, bilingual children, St. George’s is a kind of sporting Hogwarts. The college gates swung open to allow the team bus in and from then on we were in the capable hands of Rob Prata, Deputy Head, mine host and congenial assassin. First off was a tour of the school to take in the best that the youth of Buenos Aires’ can expect, and expect away boys and girls, followed by a pre-match tea in the refectory. Those of us looking for some light relief from the meat assault on this tour were sorely disappointed as plates of salami and ham unfolded before us. The only mercy came in the form green leaves and slices of redness…’lettuce and tomato’ the guidebook offers.St. George’s also has a theatre and swimming pool. I don’t know why I shove those two things together; I just find it rather pleasing. Mars does too. A lot.

For the second time on TOUR the skipper lost the toss and could be seen at naughty boy nets later that day practicing his calling so we must hope for better at Hurlingham. In the meantime it was Dors to bat first. Mars and Russ, our very own Langer and Hayden, or Little and Large if you prefer, went to mow a meadow. We have the benefit of playing on all-grass pitches on this portion of the tour and this one proved to be…interesting. Under clear blue skies with the college bells tolling in the distance, and with a couple of young medium pacers operating at either end, Mars found himself paralysed by an inability to time a ball that refused to come on to the bat but preferred to keep low. Or high. Or jag left. Or right. Or not. Russ was similarly stymied by the desire to not-run-out-our-top-batsman-again-please commandment from on high so the going was slow but at least we weren’t collapsing. Not yet anyway.

Just for once we had a proper scorer as well so the Book of Numbers shows all sorts of exciting stats like ‘balls faced’ and ‘time at the crease’, the sort of things that regular cricketers take for granted. The best we can normally hope for is a wagon wheel with tea. So the book shows that Mars finally got international runs; 22 of them in fact. Not polished and effortless like he usually manages (when Russ isn’t sabotaging his holiday) but gritty, freshly ground, grafted runs. It was Russ who fell first however having troubled the scorer to the tune of 11. Gibson, operating from the theatre end, eventually tempted Russ to flash at him which isn’t normally the done thing at a school, and the player who sunk Mars at the Belgrano was first to go, taken by the keeper. So Paulo was in for his first game on tour having run the book for the opening fixture, saved up his pennies for years and learnt Spanish especially. Paulo got the sort of ball first up that even Test cricketers get night sweats about. One that calmly pitches on a length and then rears up at your face like some sort crazed badger. It was as much as the young lad could do to get his thumb to it before it took his nose off. The keeper gratefully, and rather gracefully, took the catch. Paulo was back in the hutch. Two games.One innings.One ball. One minute. One duck…of the golden variety. In fact we may return to open a Chinese restaurant of the same name to commemorate the amount of canards that we have collected thus far.
Swiss Tony took to the wicket and fared little better, facing just two balls for his nought. Skipper Mallard joined Mars at the crease and, as usual, chuntered on about ‘forging a partnership’, ‘using up the overs’ etcetcetc before watching Mars play all around a shot that, ordinarily, wouldn’t have troubled the big biffer. It disturbed him greatly and his middle stump even more so. The Smurf strode to the wicket with memories of his bump ball at the Belgrano still fresh in his little blue mind. A few shots showed early promise, and the Smurf will deliver at some point with the bat, but four balls later he got a real Gargamel of a ball which he spooned to mid off before trudging back to join the rest of the not so merry crew. Mallard, meanwhile, was stroking the odd bad ball around in the company of Mr Richard William Forge who wears a helmet not to protect his head (which is indestructible) but to protect the opposition from the expression of sheer fury that he wears when he bats. 16 balls he faced before edging one to the keep off the bowling of Altuzana. Mallard followed soon after for 8, going after one from the off-spinner Kennedy and snicking a difficult chance to Giles Gibson, late of England, who took a good catch. Behlly also departed with a hefty nothing from the same bowler and it was only the Crab who showed any kind of resistance to post a massive 9 including a boundary. Boundaries have been a rare and elusive commodity in this hemisphere with tight, slow bowling and huge, grassy outfields to slow up the ball…they don’t seem to trouble he opposition so much though.
Barbarossa and the Panda didn’t trouble the scorer unduly, the former with a zero and the latter with 2 but KP did at least present a straight bat which he then carried from the field…not for the first time in his Corridor career, and certainly not the last.
Corridors 72 all out including 17 extras.Hmmm.

As with Belgrano a different Corridor side showed up for fielding duty. For some reason we really come alive with ball in hand and if we ever win a toss and field first, someone is really going to get it. It was R. Vozzi who got it first on this occasion. Swiss Tony, rapidly becoming known as ‘The Child Catcher’ and thus ‘Torpedo’ beguiled the child before him who had no answer to Swiss’s fizzing deliveries and eventually lolloped one up to Behlly at mid on. The insouciant Australian did his best to drop it but eventually held on for the first wicket of the day…Corridor wise at any rate.

With the child removed it was time to bring on Behlly who, channelling the spirit of Merv Hughes and Dennis Lillee (pictures of both in full cry just happened to be pinned up in his apartment), bowled with what is known as ‘vigour’. It was too much for batsman Costa (brilliant names on this tour) who went after the bowler and pulled hard at one that sat up to him. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a flying Panda. I doubt it since, as a rule, they tend to be rather passive creatures with little on their mind except bamboo and where the next bit of it is coming from.  Our Panda, however, is a different creature altogether. The ball was smoked by the batsman and everyone turned to see what sort of orbit it would enter…everyone but the Panda that is. Leaping high and to his left the black and white wonder stuck out both paws on his wrong side and, ball safely pouched, re-entered the earth’s atmosphere at a terrible pace. The Panda who fell to earth had little time to ponder his broken body as he was engulfed, and possibly impregnated, by several of his team mates.

It was just the sort of fillip that we needed and with our tails up Angeletti came to bat. But the lad couldn’t handle the heat in the kitchen and a rampant Behlly sent him back with a fat duck. It was, perhaps, a harsh lesson for the boy but then, isn’t that what schools are for? Altuzarra came out on a hat-trick and gamely blocked the first ball which he followed with a fist pump to the girls on the boundary…two golden ducks before this game apparently. Unperturbed by this moment of brilliance Behlly calmy fired a scud into the batsman’s foot which then ricocheted into the stumps. The young batsman protested the wicket, a schoolboy error, before being calmly ejected by Signor Prata and Alan the umpire.

New kid on the block Smurf collected a couple of scalps by removing opener Kay for 18 with the assistance of a little Crab, and then barged through Gibson’s stumps for two later in the innings. The Blue Assassin has proved his worth both as a player and a tourist on this merry jaunt. Long may he be a Dored.

So, seven wickets down and a glimmer of hope for the Corridors but Duggan and Griffiths, taking on Behlly’s lusty bowling hoiked the ball over the predatory infield and ran the score to ground. A loss then but a more creditable one followed by empanadas and Quilmes aplenty. Rob Prata invited us to use the school pool and, well brought up boys that we are, we didn’t refuse and Smurf’s handstand entry and Swiss’s bombing would have put Tom Daley to shame.

A post match get together with the oppo followed and we won ourselves a dozen new friends…easy to do when you’re on the wrong end of a beating. The callow youths of St. George’s wondered if we were named after the Corridor cricket that we played at public school. Fat chance.


GAME 5 - Chile vs Corridors at Craighouse Cricket Ground, Santiago, Chile

March 24th, 2012 - The Corridors go truly international

A little out of order perhaps, I still haven't turned in the match report from the Foam of Muppets C.C. vs Corridors game, but those of you following our tour will probably be more interested to know the outcome of yesterday's game between the South American Champions, that's  Chile, and the world famous Corridor Cricket Club. And to be honest with you, it really is worth knowing about.

At 4.35 am on the morning of the game the Dors were woken, not by the sweet smell of eight men sleeping in a dorm together, but by the largest earthquake since the rather more infamous quake that trapped 33 Chilean miners underground for 69 days...5.3 on the Richter Scale allegedly. And I'm here to tell you, as Richie Benaud might say, that lying in the darkness while the solid, old colonial building you're sleeping in bangs and shudders around you is a frightening enough experience if you're above ground. God only knows what terrors those men went through. The Lump was so shaken that he went outside to the bar which, mercifully, was still open.

Ah, yes. The Lump. Rarely has a natural phenomenon proved so prophetic for just a few hours later that same man was to shake up Chile in a quite different way.

With the Dors in full fig and all aboard Sergio's fun bus it was off to the former school ground at Craighouse outside Santiago. You really couldn't find a more perfect setting to encapsulate the fact that the Corridor Cricket Club was about to take on the whole country. The country's iconic mountain range, the Andes, stood on three sides of the ground and most of us spent a few minutes just wandering around taking in the scenery. The Chilterns pale in comparison to these old, old mountains stretching off one behind another in shades of browns and purples into the distance. Wonderful. The pitch itself was a different matter. In these parts of the world cricketers have to fight not just to bring new players on and to keep the game they love from withering on South American vines, Carmenere probably, but also to keep the few pitches they have in decent order. Craighous School had, quite recently, sold the ground and the water rights that go with it. Consequently a pitch that had been lush and true only months before for the South American Championships was now a parched field with a dry and broken wicket. But they are nothing if not resourceful in this part of the world and Heaven and, literally earth were moved to install an artificial strip in time for our game at no small cost. For this alone we will be eternally grateful and teams looking to tour here should not underestimate the friendliness of the hosts.

And so for the last time on tour the Skipper went out to spin silver against an azure sky. Umpire Ian 'Fuzzy' Walker, without whom this mad enterprise would never have come about, flicked Chilean legal tender from his thumb and Mallard called 'heads'. Just for once the Gods of tossing were on his side and the Corridor's own El Capitan decided to bowl. It so nearly paid dividends. Behlly and Mars opened from either end and sharper hands from the slip cordon might have put Behlly in the Great Book in the first over. The Dors were left to rue the chance as Johnny Bensted went on to craft an imperious 72. Bensted and Last devoured any bad balls to set the scoreboard spinning with the legside boundary in particular taking a pounding. Equally they were respectful of anything decent, preferring to block rather than swish at everything that came their way. Messrs Behl and York toiled in the sun with several chances but no reward and so on came the Swiss Torpedo and the Smurf. Both bowlers wheeled under Chilean skies and again there were chances but the vital breakthrough just would not come.

And so, not for the first time, the Skipper threw the ball to Strachan. 'Cometh the hour, cometh the Lump' as we have said before and who knows what was going through the Lump's mind at that moment. He had certainly been adamant before the tour, and in the lead up to this game, that he would get a bowl. He might even have thought that that would be enough, to see his name down in the scorebook against a whole nation. That was certainly the driving motivational force behind so many of us being here in the first place and the Corridors most lethal bowler seized his chance with both's the way he bowls. Described by the umpire as 'right arm, weird with 6 Lumps to come' Lumpy came on to bowl and almost immediately cleaned up Bensted, shattering his stumps and when I say shattered I mean it. Middle stump, broken in two at the base. Incredible scenes Jeff. The Dors went wild, the Lump went feral bellowing his victory to the surrounding mountains. It's the kind of moment, a condor moment if you will, that really needs to be captured on film...oh, hang on, it was! And Lumpy wasn't finished, not by a long way. The other opener, Last, came out of his crease to take a heave at the Lump, who by now was putting it on a Chilean sixpence, missed, and was stumped by the quick claws of the Crab. Have I told you how superb the crusty one has been on I think I just did. Razor sharp behind the wicket, except for the very odd lapse, Tim Davis has been a stalwart behind the timbers all tour, no mean feat when you consider how much work he's had to do with such a crowded fixture list. So Last was dispatched for a well made 110 which only brought Simon Shalderes to the crease. And now, dear reader, I'd like you to bear in mind that this is the man who scored 190 against Peru and is something of a legend on this continent. He also runs La Casa Roja, the rather excellent hostel with the swim up bar and the cricket net. A top man. But the Lump has never cared for reputation and giant killer that he is, brought this cricketing behemoth back down to earth. Clean bowled. For 8. That's the beauty of the Lump. You think you can play him. You can certainly pick him but somehow, unaccountably, you're out. And you have to go and unpick you're sorry innings before your surpised team mates. Lumpy, meanwhile, carries on with little thought for his victims...except the next one that is. And the next one just happened to be Signor Fecci who decided, as so many have done to their cost, to go after the Lump and manged to pick out the lurking Torpedo under a tree on the boundary. Four wickets for Lumpy. Four international wickets for the Lump. Just ponder that for a moment. Neither Mars nor Behlly, Swiss nor Smurf, the Skip nor Barbarossa or even Forge, who can pick up the odd trophy from time to time, were able to penetrate the Chilean defences. But the Lump could. Four times ladies and gentlemen.

After that Skipper Williams retired on 29, probably trying to avoid becoming Lumpy's fifth scalp, and Chris Emmott and a Signor Perryman bludgeoned a few more runs off the returning Mars and Behlly. It's a great shame that neither bowler was able to ink their names into the book but, as Lee will tell you, that's cricket.

Chile 314 for 4

The Corridors had not disgraced themselves with the ball against an entire country. What could they do with the bat?

The Chileans treated us to what amounts to their haka which Postins knows intimately having been in the middle of one during the Football World Cup in France and it is quite a thing. The Corridors sang the Corridor song. Which is not. But Mars and Russ donned their team colours and strode out to bat with their team mates adulation ringing in their ears. It must have had some effect as both batsmen laid in to the Chilean attack with gusto...a bit like Bisto but with a hint of lemon. Mars attacked anything on his legs swatting boundaries as if they were flies to wanton boys and threw in the odd big boundary too. Russ played a typically laconic innings with his customary elan and was looking good for a big score when he was adjudged LBW by the Fuzz off the bowling of Anurag for 11. He took it on the chin as per. Dawse, in at three, got an absolute snorter from the same bowler which is not what you would want playing your first full international, but even Graham Gooch got a King pair in his first test and he didn't fare too badly thereafter. Paulo, at four, became the bowlers third wicket, again adjudged LBW. Harsh? Fair? Out either way for 5. Forge, elevated to 5, decided to go on the attack and, in his Trottesque manner, played some magnificent shots off his ankles hitting legside boundaries in cavalier style and in tandem with the free hitting Mars. The burly vice captain had eased his way to 46, and we were all waiting with bated breath for the half century, when the worst happened. Mars got a leg stump full toss and put it straight down midwicket's throat. Not literally of course, but it certainly went straight into his hands as if it lived there - typical that it happened to be Chile's best fielder, too.

Passing the incoming Skipper the big lad aoplogised. He has nothing to apologise for. This tour is a testament to Mars' ability to take on a big project whilst holding down a time consuming job and maintaining a meaningful relationship. We have much to thank him for and his 46 was a reminder of the returning power of this legendary Dors batsman.

The Skip, meanwhile, was hoping not to get out for a duck which, for a Mallard, is a surprisingly easy thing to do. But, in partnership with Forgey, he did better than much better. Watching the first few balls he began to score ones and twos and, with the duck safely out of the way, began to find his range. Forge, at the other end was really going after it as well and together the pair lifted an already decent Dors score to new heights, enjoying every moment at the crease.

With Dors on the boundary willing him on, Mallard cut, pulled and drove the oppsition bolwers around the field. Ignoring their umbrella slips he took on the young tyros and, unbelievably, drove one through the hands of mid on to post the boundary that brought up his 50. To take off one's cap, raise one's bat and take in the cheers from the boundary is a special moment. To do it here, on tour, against Chile, with the best group of tourists you could wish for, was the sweetest feeling in the world. At the other end, Forge was eventually cleaned out by Hans Cerpa but not before scoring a meaty 36. Swiss Tony entered the fray and immediately carried on where Forge had left off, creaming boundaries for 23 before being LBW trying to up an already uppity run rate. Not enough to threaten the Chilean score of course, but more than enough to have the Dors buzzing at their best score on tour, in fact one of their best ever.

The Smurf then smurfed a few runs in his smurfy way before being caught for 8 and then the mighty Kung Fu Panda was sent out for the last ball of the game. One ball, one chance for glory. Unfair really and even more unfair is KP's self admosnishment for having a swipe at the ball and being clean bowled for a golden duck. Ridiculous. The Panda is the icon of the team. A one man metaphor. No one has worked harder to be here, playing international cricket, than the Panda. He is the team mascot and represents everything that this tour is about. Taking on the odds, and having a go. If you lose, so what. You were there. And yesterday, we were there.

'Wow!' as the fiery Babylon might say.


Friday, March 23rd, 2012 - a day off in Santiago!

What is it about tours that makes you do things you never do? Probably the same thing that makes you do things you don't normally do when you're on holiday. I believe it may be called alcohol. I believe there might have been quite a lot of consumption.

Obviously not by the Dors. I mean, we're on tour. We just drank cartons of orange juice. Nothing more. Which is probably why the Dors obliterated all opposition at the Big Fat Quiz at La Casa Roja on Thursday night. Well, Panda did. Brain the size of a planet. No life. That can't be true, he's on TOUR!

Axel looks like a man who strikes a pose with every movement, whether walking or running or standing threateningly at point with his back to the sun (it's medical, something to do with solar gain, I believe), so it was almost a given that he be the last man standing in a game of heads and tails. The Dors cleaned up.

And not just at the quiz either. The local wildlife appears to have much to offer. There are those whose standing in the ranks of top scorers and whose memories will be richer for that sweet, late night temptation. And who missed one of the finest days on tour, if not of our lives!

Early breakfast, followed by running around trying to find our missing member, who wasn't missing, we just didn't know where he was, and we were off to the De Martino vineyard for a magnificent tour in the hands of the delightful Maria-Jesus - she now holds the hearts of more than a couple of tourists. More I am not at liberty to say, although she received a proposal. Yes she did.

De Martino is extremely proud of its heritage and being a 'mad, crazy, innovative winery'. (a direct quote). The first vineyard in Chile to bottle Carmenere, the processes they use range from the VERY old (using amphora and legendary methods) to the VERY new (shiny and huge) and the wine they produce is very very good. I know. I have tried a lot of it.

With a tour of the facilities out of the way, the Dors were led on a tasting expedition. Although only one person discovered the smell of a 'shag in a cemetary' in his glass. No one else knows what that's like and no one really wants to!

With 3 wines down, we were invited to lunch. Lunch invitiations for 14 people are rare. This was even rarer. I now know the kind of al fresco dining I want to do for the rest of my life. Chris Emmott, our fixer and friend here in Santiago had done us proud with a combination of starters, mains and puddings all washed down with a very fine Carmenere. A Gran Reserva no less. I like Chile. I like South America. I like wine. Wine. Lamp. Love Lamp!

We could have stayed there all day, but that would have been... no, hang on, we really should have stayed there all day, but that was not on the cards. With Maria-Jesus leading a slightly wobbly, but well fed and watered band of de Martino converts back to the bus (she could have led us anywhere actually, couldn't she Paulo?) we were back on the road with songs and memories and fine wine in our bellies and a collection of boxes and bags .What a wonderful place.

The afternoon was spent writing blog and match report by yours truly and the Skip; supping fine beers at the Euro Happy Beer Emporium ( I made that last bit up, but it's true check out Euro Happy in Santiago on Facebook and you'll see what I mean.) And then dinner, en masse, in preparation for something spectacular. All this was just a prelude to the main event. For tomorrow we take on Chile. A true Dors coup in Santiago. We take on the mighty champions of South America in a 35 over international friendly.

And that, my friends, is where I leave it for now. There will be more tomorrow. But for today, let us relax and consider an amazing achievement. 14 friends and players from various teams and walks of life will take the field against Chile. Well done Duncan, well done me, well done lads! It is an honour and a pleasure.



Friday 23 March 2012

GAME 3 - The Hurlingham Club. 20th March 2012

The storm clouds gathered on Monday night above Buenos Aires; not soon enough to bring the North vs South Game to a satisfactory draw in the 115th meeting of these epic combatants. It is actually one of the longest running competitive cricket competitions in the world; so what better precedent for the very first meeting of two titans of the game as the Hurlingham Club welcomed the might Corridors Cricket Club to the hallowed turf.

Despite the overnight rain the careful attention of the Hurlingham ground staff and senor Gary meant that the pitch was flat and hard but a little sticky. And it proved to be the flattest, hardest, stickiest wicket of the tour so far.

Skipper continued his run of consistently losing the toss and in true tour stylie we were asked to bat. We  hadn't covered ourselvs in glory so far, and our cricket 'rackets' had been minimally used, so this was the perfect opportunity to put things right.

With the Hurlingham team a man down (a very Dors trait), Forgey stepped into the breach and took the field with the opposition.

Skip followed this change to tradition and opened the batting with Behly and Mars - power and precision in equal measure! Behly was one of only 2 players with a boundary to his name thus far and Mars had yet to hit form (of any kind).  And that's how it stayed.

I do have one question to pose at this stage - what is it about Argentinian pitches that means their boundaries involve an endurance run just to stop the ball. They're HUGE! No wonder they're all so ruddy fit and we'd only scored 3 boundaries up to this point - and one of them was a wide!

And on we go.

Mars and Behly lasted 6.3 overs and scored 3 runs. Right, so Mars couldn't get the ball of the square and is still whinging about his 'dubious' LBW - back in the pavilion. 8 -1.

Behlly followed shortly after, skying the ball high while pushing to be positive. 8 - 2.

Paulo, looking comfortable, started daydreaming. No, really, that was his explanation for the mad rush of blood to the bat that left his wickets in tatters. It could have been a consideration of red or white trousers, a mix of cocktails and seersucker pants.. whatever, we were now 3 down with Dawse and Skip at the wicket.

I don't know what happens to people sometimes, I really don't, but having got his eye in and hit the tours 4th boundary (HURRAH!), Dawse decided to give the oppo's 1st slip some catching practice. Feigning to leave the ball, he bounced it of the face of the bat, straight at his executioner. 25 - 4 and a fine to Dawse for shaking the hand that did for him before the game was over. Shame on you!

Skip has made a habit of bissecting the spaces and hitting the fielders. Yep, that's true. And he's consistent. Smacking the ball all over the park, straight at fielders. Or missing the ball completely. 29-5.

Much steepling of fingers, furrowing of brows and scattering of applause followed as Sherrif Rusty and Swis formed the Dors big partnership only for Swiss to NOT hit the bowler off his stride and back in the changing rooms having been stumped. 44-6.

With the ball jagging, dipping, cutting, swinging, Smurf got a beauty (56-6); Crab barely scuttled (57-8) and neither Russ, The Lump nor Panda could move the score on much further. 59 all out (well, for 11 actually since 12 of us were playing).

Both Panda and Russ were crock, so Axel Foley, he of the laugh and the bananas in the exhaust fame, stepped up for his first full showing in the field. There would be running. Quite a lot of it.

59 is not a big total and rarely have we had so little to defend. But we are Dors On Tour. And we stand to the last, even if Russ and Panda are lying down and doing a lot of stretching - but they really make it count!

Forge was given no option; the mushroom lumberjack opened for the Hurlingham Club and the abuse was truly Dors-like. We're not good at sledging the opposition, but we more than make up for it with our own (as Torpedo and Tour-luvvy will attest). However, Forge is our blood, a Corridor haemoglobule, and as such there is no escape.

Behly opened with fire and pace and was very unlucky early Dors (see what I did there?) not to have either Forge or Millar caught at slip. Hard chances though they were, we couldn't take our opportunities (Dawse fined for a sitter!) and it took 6.1 overs to grab our first wicket - Forge on his way back to the oppo with his castle in tatters.

While Millar got stronger, hit straighter and got  dropped, the Dors concentrated on the other end and dropped things there, too. UNTIL THEY DIDN'T. Smurf making up for previous teflon fingered actions and giving Swiss his first wicket of the day.

We needed wickets and Swiss answered the call. With his penultimate ball, the child catcher was back in the groove, torpedoing the Hurlingham's yongest with relish, with the tour-luvvy's jazz hands the receptacle for the executioner's pleasure!

There was only one person who could now save the Dors, 'cos Mars was bowling like a drain! Step up The Lump and his filth and fortune paired with genius. And Gooding was away, head bowed in supplication to the power of Lumpy. 44.4.

But that was it. Quick fire boundaries and Hurlingham stitched it up with 61 off 17 overs - we had made it much harder than they had expected and we had bowled well. AGAIN. One day we'll do it with the bat.

Presentations, and a farewell BBQ back at the Conventillo de Lujo were to come and Gary Savage proved his worth once more with a fantastic final evening which left a few of us in a desperate state for the morning. Despite the less than appealing results, this is one place that not only begs but demands another visit. I hope to include cricket in mine. I even hope there may be more to come for Mars in BA.

But for now, Chile is our destination and we say a very fond 'ciao, ciao' to Argentina.

So long and thanks for all the steak. Now I want fish.