Portugal, May 2012
On the Thursday before we were due to fly out to Porto the Quokkas were in a bad way. The Portugese ATC had just gone on strike, we’d played no matches for almost a year, the weather forecast for the next 3 days was grim, and the Gymnast was struggling to get a visa. Clearly we were cursed. But where there’s a will there’s a way and early on friday morning the Quokkas bundled onto a train at Victoria, destination Manchester, the home of that season’s fabulous Premier League Champions. Some wealthy few chose first class, the rest of us happily followed the slabs of beer held by Slick & Skip and took over 2nd class.
In their sober states the 1st class boys decided on arrival in Manchester that go-karting would be a safe and fun way to kill the hour we had spare before our flight out that evening so we piled into cabs down to Trafford, an area of Manchester which boasts a rather nice cricket ground, an indoor go-karting venue, but not much else. Somehow we all passed the tricky sobriety questions and hit the track. Typically Shandy proved slowest and Egg, with his aggressive driving style, proved fastest. Then followed a quick cab, flight and cab again and we were in Lisbon, a mere 300km from our first game. Hey-ho, time to relax and hit the booze.
Eventually finding the bars after some uphill training we did our best to help keep the Portugese economy afloat a little longer, and Shandy did some fantastic advertising proudly wearing his “I love Miley” t-shirt. We also helped out the local traders by clearing them out of their sunglasses and bangles. The night went on, and on, ending early Saturday with clubbing and shots. The train at 9 the next morning was a quiet affair as the Quokkas nursed sore heads. Getting some sleep however proved challenging as it was difficult to drown out Faggy’s excitable whitterings. But some of us did manage a bit of shut-eye and we duly presented ourselves at Oporto Cricket & Lawn Tennis club for our first game, a limited 25 overs match.
Snoop & Faggy opened the batting and started to see off their openers. Faggy seemed in particularly good touch dispatching balls easily to the boundary. Helped by extras we were soon on a respectable 42-0 from 5 overs and looking good. Faggy then decided to up the run rate by cunningly having Snoop run out. Then in came Shandy, then out came Shandy with 6 runs added. Skip followed and notched up a respectable 21 before nicking one behind and releasing The Bear. The Bear hit a couple but then got himself caught and it was time for Tea, so out stepped Tea-pot. However we soon realised it wasn’t time for tea and Tea-pot put duly put himself back in the pavilion without scoring. In the meantime Faggy kept going and at 122/5 we looked good with 5 overs left for some big hitters. Dac duly stepped up, hit 1 then walked back to let in Satan and Faggy quickly followed. Satan played himself in with a 6 off his first ball but then hit a single and decided enough was enough and left the Binman and Locky to see the Quokkas safely home for 179. Faggy top-scored with a career best of 84 putting him 4th in the all time quokka standings. A great day for his Top Trumps stats.
After tea the oppo took to the field…Immediately the Bear and Evil Dave were into them with the bear striking in his 2nd over, and the evil one in his third. The openers had gone for 6 and 4 apiece. But then came a student called Chambers whose main passion in life was to try to get the ball into the swimming pool, something that he managed to do on 2 occasions in this innings. But four sixes later the Binman struck . Mackay came in and hit 50 but he didn’t get great support and with Dac (2-25) and Skip (3-14) getting in on the wicket-taking action the Quokkas made it to their first ever Saturday on tour win!
The following morning we had a number of Quokka tour firsts. We had a lie-in, a leisurely cooked breakfast and a game which started on-time with 11 aside. It was to be a declaration game and Skip, still delirious over Saturdays win, decided to mix it up by putting Locky as the opening bat, partnered by Satan. Locky clearly relished the challenge and saw off their openers posting a remarkable 20. A great start and clearly there were good runs to be had for the more traditional batsmen. Little did we realise then that Locky would be our best bat. Satan & Teapot showed consistency by leaving the field for the same score that they had posted the day before but Shandy improved by managing to hang around for 18. Faggy failed to live up to the previous day’s hype and went for 4 with the Bear deciding his hugs were more sorely needed than his runs and therefore returning quickly to the pavilion to dish out more loving. Skip & Snoop rallied with a respectable 19 a piece but then Dac, then Binman, got themselves caught leaving Egg last man standing with 7. 149 all out from 41 overs.
Lunch in the pavilion consisted of Port, wine and more Port which cheered the Quokkas up no end. In an alcoholic haze the Quokkas took to the field with Dac Attack and Bear running in for 6 overs a piece. Faggy, Teapot (33-2 from 7), Snoop, Binman and Skip all chipped in but Oporto had clearly refrained from the port and went on to win by 6 wickets, wrapping up the game in their 34th over. Despite the loss the Quokkas were still high from the Saturday win and from the fact that they had made the 2nd match competitive….the day was finished off with a lot of meat at a Brazilian BBQ restaurant and more drinking in Porto. Skippy had a great time mixing it with the locals but the exertion did leave him somewhat deflated.
What had promised to be a tour of doom just 4 days previously turned into a triumph. Cricket strokes were remembered in time, good (-ish) weather prevailed, Air Traffic Control was circumvented and although the Gymnast was left behind, he had more time to study for his 201st accounting exam. Thanks to Skip for getting us there, and to Oporto CC, especially Mr Mukesh Rajani, who proved to be an exceptional host.