• It’s hardly surprising that the English like the Germans so much. Their love for football, sausages and beer very much mirrors our own and they have even embraced our game of cricket now too. With that in mind, what other reason would you need to join the quorum of Quokkas on this years’ tour of Hamburg? A quick straw poll to find out what tempted the others drew an almost universal “you’re not married with kids, are you Ches?” response. True, but despite lacking that additional motivation, I was no less keen to sample the world famous Reeperbahn, fish market and some of the finest Weizenbier known to man.

    PHOTO-2018-09-13-20-43-32Skip was so keen to get there that he selected the `Oh my god that’s early’ red eye flight from Heathrow, which meant a room at the Travelodge and a desperate search for culinary delights in Hounslow the night before. Whilst the Yak and Dac somehow found a Michelin star curry house, my search unearthed jam doughnuts washed down by a solitary Cobra.

    “Can anyone recommend a dish at the Travelodge restaurant?”
    “Yes, pringles”.

    At least the view from the hotel window was impressive.

    The pre-tour excitement and Yak snoring enabled me to get exactly one hours’ shuteye – the perfection preparation for a weekend where we normally envy the amount of sleep Navy SEALs get on their training courses. Things could be worse, you could be waiting for your passport to return from Her Majesty’s Government or worse still, forget where it resides completely.

    For those allowed to leave the country, the check-in was uneventful, but my request for balaclavas seemed not to resonate with the clubs’ hierarchy. Instead we took ownership of the latest piece of tour merchandise and the new `mug a granny’ Quokkas hoodies had us mistaken for oversized fans of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When matched with shorts, we presented ourselves as a group of boy scout leaders. To be honest, on the Reeperbahn no one bat an eyelid.

    PHOTO-2018-09-14-14-16-42With no time for the usual Irish breakfast send off, we prepared for the first game with Alpha beers and pina coladas at the fabulous StrandPauli bar. Sitting nicely on the edge of the River Elbe, the deckchairs, sand and lashings of late summer sun ensured the day flew by. Afterwards we took residency at a restaurant far exceeding our standard of attire and consumed our own bodyweight in veal schnitzel, warm potato salad and basil-flavoured gins. Has anyone got that taste of Basil out of their mouth yet?

    The tour party hit the streets of Hamburg and was soon bolstered by The Professor, Lockie and Evil Dave, who had somehow found his passport. Apparently, it was in the passport draw, next to Mrs Evil’s passport, in a passport holder with the word `Passport’ emblazoned on the front. He muttered something about Brexit, but after a bottle of Jagermeister had entered the bloodstream he seemed happy enough.

    Well lubricated, the group was keen to put their purposefully selected sequences of human movement on display. We made our way to the excellent Molotow Musikclub in search of the next Beatles and to the soundtrack of Franz Ferdinand, Tocotronic and Kraftklub  we spent several hours convincing the locals that tomorrow would be best spent watching the Quokkas dismantled in a field somewhere on the outskirts of the city. Despite best efforts and Kevin Keegan stickers offered as enticements I feared that would not be enough to convince anyone.

    It’s surprising how quickly tomorrow comes when you are having fun. Thankfully Michael D was on hand to provide us with some local grub (yes, according to my friend Wiki, burgers do originate from Hamburg) and that set us up nicely for the long day ahead.

    PHOTO-2018-09-15-14-48-08We were warmly welcomed by our hosts at the wonderful Sports Club THCC Rot-Gelb, but on a first glance it appeared that `one of the few grass wickets in Germany’ had metamorphosised itself into a coconut matting. Perhaps the long Indian summer was to blame. It appeared to have also affected the lush outfield, which didn’t quite replicate the lush bowling green advertised on their website www.cricket-hamburg.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/THCC-Ground_1500x520.jpg [the Chesney school of marketing in action right there]. Less than smooth outfields are the norm on tour, so we just got on with it. I moaned, obviously.

    As is customary, we sent the locals into bat (we always want to make them feel like they got a game) and initially we found the openers to be stubborn. However, Evil Dave continued his fine form with the ball by taking a brace of wickets. He really shouldn’t have bothered, as that just brought a talented Australian called Cam and the equally adept Murali to the middle.

    When we took drinks 15 overs and over 130 runs later, it looked like we were going to have our work cut out keeping things below 300. The combination of the square leg boundary located inside the fielding circle (which meant sixes were downgraded to fours – thank god for that aye Dac?) and some high-quality batting was proving problematic.

    PHOTO-2018-09-16-17-24-05Thankfully, Cam took pity on us and retired during the drinks break. Then when our new and extremely hyperactive Quokka, Jigger, brought a little more pace to the attack and we started to make inroads. Jigger eventually got Murali out and with the talent safely back in the hutch, Skip saw that the coast was safe and made a long-awaited bowling appearance. He, along with The Egg efficiently cleaned up the tail, with The Egg claiming the prize wicket of expat captain Andy. Despite this we still were set over 200 from our 35 overs. Have we got even close to that on a first day of a tour?

    Tea was a strange mix of cold toasted sandwiches and two absolutely wonderful cakes. I miss the days of a box of pork to be honest.

    It’s not often that a batsman acknowledges that he was probably out lbw and that didn’t happen here when our designated batsman for the tour, Milind, was triggered by Evil. Müllmann fell not long after, leaving him somewhat exposed in our annual runs challenge. Like our rivals, the real talent was at three, with The Professor finally deciding not to hide his bushel at nine, ten or jack, and showing us what he can do when he has upgraded from a piece of balsa to the clubs’ plywood Slazenger.

    PHOTO-2018-09-15-14-48-07We knew he played straight, but with the confidence hair highlights brings to a middle-aged man, he started to display a bit of flair in attack. Having seen off the openers he then picked off the bad ball and of course was resolute in defence when required. We had spent tea trying to construct the ultimate batsman out of the few genuine cricket shots from Quokkas players – it appeared the shoe-in-Guru-cover-drive was now under threat. Myself, Tom the Yak, Skip and Slick provided some support, but not nearly enough and just a little shy of his maiden Quokkas half century the Professor was out trying to move things along. In the end, even with 12 batsman we still didn’t come close, but most importantly we survived to fight another day.

    A delightful dinner provided by our guests, accompanied by a few sherbets and the shortest game of 21s in Quokkas history was the perfect kick start to the evening. I don’t recall too much about it, other than consuming lashings of beer and German death metal, an unusual arcade claw game that replaced soft toys with sex toys and having to suffer the appalling Codeko remix of MGMT’s Kids {Ed: I’ll pass on adding that link] at the titty twister bar night club. For those with insomnia, the fish market completed the evening, with a blues band entertaining the revellers and fishmongers alike.

    It felt like my head had hardly hit the pillow when the call went out to be in the lobby for the taxis back to the Sports Club THCC Rot-Gelb for the second game of the weekend. Lidl and Michael D saved the day, providing us with enough sugar to bring on type 2 diabetes. My 18 trips to the toilet during the day suggested that either I have the smallest bladder in the world or that that ship has already sailed. I digress.

    PHOTO-2018-09-15-18-16-51With the batting order reversed, The Egg and Evil strode out to the middle, with Fruiti following them into the middle shortly afterwards. He and Evil Dave proceeded to put on a fifty partnership, finding the short square boundary especially appealing. After a short cameo from Jigger that saw him take on their quickie, Dac was in and looking to avoid a pair. He was going well until Müllmann sent him back to the hutch. Dac claimed he middle it, but Milind’s video of the shot in question was inconclusive.

    The fast bowler called Bai was too good for Lockie and myself, but Skip stood firm and with Tom the Yak in support played an excellent captain’s innings, scoring a very swift half century and eventually carrying his bat. 180 looked a little short, but with a completely new bowling attack at Skip’s disposal, Murali tucking into far too many beers and no sign of the German Ladies National Team captain, we were confident.

    PHOTO-2018-09-16-15-50-13Milind and Müllmann opened the bowling, one ever so slightly more accurate than the other, but the pair combined well, restricting our opponents to 25 for 1 from the first nine overs. Murali, now into his fifth larger top, demonstrated exactly why you shouldn’t drink and drive kids, showing absolutely none of the exquisite timing from the day before. You can’t take liberties like that when The Egg is bowling and he duly claimed his wicket during another excellent spell. That was proceeded by The Professor substantiating his all-rounder status, with a terrific six over spell of line and length bowling claiming three wickets.

    PHOTO-2018-09-17-10-17-40With us cruising to victory there was enough leeway to bring me on. Right on que the prementioned Tina turned up and began dispatching me into the tennis courts. Fortunately, she began to run out of partners and in an attempt to win the game single handed, The Yak had her caught on the long on boundary. With a nipper to bowl at, I looked far more comfortable and eventually got one to land somewhere near the wickets and the game was ours.

    A trip to Germany would not be complete without some pork knuckle and we rounded off the tour with dinner at the Schoppenhauer restaurant. The non-vegetarian’s within the party were more than impressed with the menu and we proceed to eat our way through half a hundred weight of meat. With tour fines handed out, Professor acknowledged as best on tour and a keg of beer drunk, it was time to hit the bright lights of Hamburg one last time.

    A short uneventful flight back aside, that was pretty much that for the 2018 Quokkas Tour of Hamburg. All I can say is that once again it was brilliantly organised (thanks to anyone that helped with that), great fun to participate in and I can heartedly recommend it to any husband and or/father. Oh yes, I nearly forgot, I moved 2-1 ahead of Müllmann in our usual runs challenge. At his age you have to wonder if he will be back next year. I know I will.

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  • Despite its picture postcard Mediterranean beauty, its olive groves and vines, its ancient ruins and deserted beaches, the Croatian island of Vis has virtually no tourists. It seems the only foreigners who have discovered it are those who arrive on the glamorous Italian and Austrian yachts that moor here in the evening.

    Mooring up their glamorous luxury ferry, the Quokkas rolled down the gangplank having enjoyed a day of acclimatisation in the medieval bars and restaurants of Split, and were already a man down. The glinting blue of the Adriatic had proved so attractive to Skippy that he jumped off the ferry for a quick swim. Last seen bobbing somewhere off the coast of Dubrovnik, his last words were “see you next summer” before he was carried off on the backs of dolphins.

    Even with this loss, Skip had still been left with thirteen players and a selection dilemma, so ingeniously he set about knocking off a couple through the purchase of a bottle of local strawberry brandy and a little patience.

    Quokkas vs Vis Episode I

    Quokkas CC 162 (Shandy 61, Bruno 32) lost to Vis CC (Skip 3/30, Evil Dave 3/41, Egg 2/15) by 1 wicket 

    The morning of the game arrived and the Quokkas were driven to the ground in style, in a vintage minibus by Rocky and Pico. Pico spent most of the journey with his head out of the window, tongue lolling in the breeze, as did most of the Quokkas.

    The selection dilemma resolved itself soon after getting off the minibus as newly christened “Tom the Yak” made himself unavailable by introducing the American concept of the “Power Hurl” to this continent. The Verger didn’t fancy it either, not realising that a cricket tour would actually involve him having to play cricket, and so we had our 11.

    The Quokkas started well with Bruno, resplendent in yet another white muscle vest, hitting a good 32 and ably supported by Snoop Robbie Rob. Shandy came in and top scored with 61 but with wickets falling around him, Rocky doing the damage with a fifer, the Quokkas could only reach 162.

    Opening up with The Bear and Evil Dave, The Quokkas got off to a good start. Evil Dave won back the Quokka cap he lost the night before (after some scurrilous accusations emerged that he might have persuaded Skippy to take his swim) returning figures of 41-3. After a change of bowling the game started to slip away until the Skip weighed in with 3 prize wickets. Things were looking promising until the Vis star batsmen turned up late to come in at number 10, whack a few fours and sixes and ensure that once again the Quokkas would not have a winning tour.

    Quokkas vs Vis (Croatia) Episode II

    Vis CC 176-5 (Snoop Rob 3/19) lost to Quokkas CC (Binman 62no, Skip 37no, Tom the Yak 25, Evil Dave 21) by 7 wickets

    Having decided to scrap the game in Split due to forecast rain, a 20-20 rematch was staged back at the Vineyard. Binman was especially pleased since he could once again take up his fruity position of Extra Graper.

    Putting the opposition into bat, the Quokkas then proceeded to get smashed around by Antonio on his way to the first ever century for Vis Cricket Club. With the target standing at 176 (higher than yesterday’s 30-over match) the Quokkas would need something special, which is exactly what they got. With The Yak, Satan and Skip all hitting decent scores while keeping the run rate up, the stage was set for Binman, grape juice still running down his chin, to take it home. And he most certainly did, smashing 5 sixes and 7 fours on his way to (by far) his career best of 62no.

    So the Quokkas record another drawn tour, but more importantly another great time. Thanks to Rocky, Rob and all the guys at Vis CC for making us so welcome.

    Roll on next summer!

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  • Prague CC 223 defeated Quokkas CC 57

    The Tour started badly.  With 3.5 men down at Heathrow (Skip had only one hand) things did not bode well.  However, with Dac, the Hairdresser and Satan on the plane we felt we’d still give Prague CC a run for their money. 

    On arrival in the Czech capital the Quokkas were keen to start a recruitment drive.  In between the Staropramens in Wenceslas Square and a massive amount of meat at the Brazilian BBQ (the restaurant made a loss that night), the quokkas tried to recruit anyone & everyone.    Most people thought we were clearly drunk Englishmen on a stag-do and kept their distance, but happily 3 massive “disco-touts” promised they’d turn out for us as long as we drank in their pub.  We duly obliged, but sadly they did not.  And so we awoke on the Saturday of our first match, half drunk and still 3.5 men down.  The tram ride across the city was pleasant and 45 mins after leaving the hotel we stepped off into the plush green surrounds of the Czech countryside.  We prayed for a miracle and to our delight a couple of teenage pot-heads appeared in the outfield of the park.  Thinking quickly, the Skip approached them.  It took no time at all in press-ganging Peter & Jacob into the Quokkas and by pinching the Prague CC’s 12th Man Vijay, we had a full team compliment!

    The match started well.  Some good bowling from Dac, Vijay and Evil Dave meant that after 14 overs Prague CC were 39-5.  The Quokkas smelt victory in the air.  But then Malik and Myers stepped up to bat and between them smashed the bowling of The Egg, Smithers, Jason, Skip and Slick for 137 runs.  Myers in particular recognised that our pot-head Czech fielders were stoned and unable to stop a ball and continued to score freely through them.  Malik was caught just 5 short of his ton, but the wicket came too late and the Quokkas faced a massive 223 for the win.

    Our innings started in impressive style.  9 came off the first over for no loss.  However, 10 overs later we were 34-3 with Slick, Hairdresser and Evil Dave falling to catches.  Jason looked like steadying the ship and top-scored with 12, but the rest of the team let him down with Jacob & the Skip (one-handed) going for a duck, Smithers 1, VJ 4, Dac 8 with the Egg not out for 0.  We lost by 165 runs.

    Drink is clearly not the reason we lost

    We analysed our failings and decided that we had lost because we hadn’t really drunk enough on the Friday evening.  We decided to rectify that on the Saturday night.  We hit Prague harder than anyone has hit Prague before.  Evil Dave spent the evening out on the town in his whites having decided it would be unlucky to change.  I’ve since heard that the trend has caught on.  The most fashionable of Prague’s “trendy set” can be seen on Saturdays parading over Charles Bridge in full English cricket gear.

     

    Quokkas CC  97 lost to Prague CC by 1 wicket

    Our second match was where we hoped to claw back some respect.  Prague CC had put out their ‘B’ team and with a reduced 30 over format & 8-aside we felt out batting strength would yield us victory.  The unlikely opening pairing of the Egg and Skip strode out to the crease and within seconds one of them was striding back.  The skip was clean bowled which left the Egg out in the middle in decidedly unfamiliar territory.  Smithers joined him and soon they were scoring freely…ish.  However, the Egg soon departed on 7, Dac came and went for 6 which left Smithers and Trigger standing.  Smithers took inspiration from Triggers quick 17 and started to hit out.  However, a quite beautiful 6 was followed by a quite ugly catch on the boundary by their thinnest player, who had been cleverly disguising himself as one of the scoreboard struts.   Evil Dave was then bowled by the once proud Quokka , VJ, and despite the Hairdresser putting on 26 when Slick went for a duck we found ourselves all out for 98.

    Fortified by pizza we took to the field.  With Slick behind the stumps Prague CC were slow to score and after 11 overs were at 22-1.  With this run rate the Quokkas felt confident victory was there for the taking.  However this optimism was misplaced as Hunza and Dan stepped up their scoring rate to put on 59 runs between them.  Some good bowling from Dac saw 3 wickets fall but then Prague CC decided to hit us with their secret weapon.  Linda walked out to the crease.  This threw the Quokkas into a bit of a quandary.  Clearly our competitive natures demanded we push for victory, but the gentlemen in us didn’t fancy bowling bouncers at a girl.  However, after seeing Linda play some decent shots Skip decided bollox to that and clean-bowled her with a slighter quicker ball.  With 3 runs required Vijay strode to the middle, and showed where his heart truly lay by securing a duck on the whispered promise of a beer.  He returned to the sidelines with a friendly wave to the fielders with “Vijay is a Quokka” ringing in his ears.   Sadly our celebrations were short lived as Sudhir quickly took the final runs. 

    All in all cricket was the winner this tour and although none of us shone in the field, Trigger was the star.  He was duly recognised at the awards dinner that night.  His no-nonsense attitude with Prague taxi drivers, his enthusiastic involvement in all drinking games and his determination in the field earned him a new-found Quokka legend status. 

    Many thanks to Prague CC  for the weekend, even if we didn’t get to see Andy bat. Excellent drinking companions as well as consummate hosts and chili connaisseurs.

    Where will our next tour take us….will it be Africa, will it be Ireland, we’ll just have to wait and see

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Recent Comments

  • Strong.
  • Proper swing bowling that was. Pitch it up.
  • Fabulous article which made us smile in the Spanish sunshine...
  • You forgot to mention Harry getting to bowl an over aswell. ...
  • Please see point 5.