Winter Warmer – Diary of Barrow’s Summer Tour (Part II)

With cold weather sweeping across Barrow Gurney it is time for the BGCC website to reflect again on warmer times with the second part of our tour diary. Holiday makers in danger, young love shattered in one delivery, a masterclass in batting in flip flops and an unlikely half century made it another day to remember.

Day 2 started with promising signs of a thaw in relationships with our hotel manager, who agreed to opening up for breakfast early so that four of us could go golfing. When we booked we were hoping for a leisurely round of golf on what looked to be a beautiful course, followed by a bite of lunch before heading over to join our friends at the seaside as they toiled away playing Exmouth CC. However plans had already changed before we teed up as Exmouth could not raise a side, however they kindly let us have use of their ground and we had enough players to make two teams with the inclusion of a couple of the late-arriving golfers. So bang went the leisurely lunch but at least we had the golf to look forward to.

However, the ill-luck which had dogged the tour continued as we arrived at the course to hear that some fungus had attacked the greens overnight so we would be playing temporary greens. Disappointed but undeterred we carried on. Having not swung a club in anger for some while, I caught one off the toe on the second which flew high and right, landing on some holiday chalets, much to the amusement of my friends! After that though things settled down as on each hole we played “hunt the green” which was not always possible – we found one flag on a bridge. In fact the golf became a bit of a farce and the full refund we received was well-deserved. I was struck by how similar some of our golf games were to our cricket. After my initial shocking shot, I retreated into my shell, played defensively with irons off the tee and tried to not to get out of each hole by a reckless shot. Ali meanwhile was hitting the ball hard and often out of the ground into trees rather reminiscent of some of his high-scoring knocks of the season! Connor was silky smooth and looked a good player, if he had more time to play and practice he could be very good indeed. (For golf read cricket). Nick however was the slight exception to my theory as he hit many clean struct shots with a fade, whereas he favours a draw when batting.

With 18 unsatisfactory holes done and Connor declared the winner, we headed over to Exmouth to see how things were progressing. On arrival we saw the team captained by Phil Milton batting and Jim Butcher, our friendly No 11 from Blagdon at the crease. Butch had in fact opened the batting and was heading towards his half century which he duly did off only 59 deliveries, exiting the arena to great applause. Jonny and Phil both played good cameos to keep the scoreboard moving. Looking around the field it was clear that there were a few suffering after effects from the night before and they stood out among the fresh faces of those who had come down for the day, including some of our junior players. As Phil’s team headed towards 188-6 off 30 overs, there was a lovely moment when one of our Under15s had to face the bowling of his girlfriend. The tension was palpable, and the pressure immense, but the result strangely inevitable as he was clean bowled to the great amusement of all. Nevertheless, the relationship survived the rest of the season!

In reply, the team skippered by Ellie Holdaway found runs hard to find against the unlikely attack of Mike Lilley and Rod Reeves. Now Mike is a seasoned campaigner and is often hard to get away, but Rod is another story. “Flighted deliveries” does not really describe the height that he was able to get on the ball which landed with a thud out of the stratosphere with ice on it, however it was hard to score off!. If it had not been for the 8 wides, he only conceded 4 runs off his 3 overs. After Frank took a couple of quick wickets and being rewarded by being removed from the attack, Adam, in true languid Gower-esque fashion, began to give his team a chance with 33. The middle order did not really contribute many and despite a couple of late 20s from Riley and Mark Fisher the team had too much to do and fell 30 runs short.

The innings ended with Ali being called (unwillingly) to the crease in the final over. Being totally unprepared he went out in flip flops assuming he would be acting purely as a runner for his partner. However it is not easy to run 2 in inappropriate footwear, so he ended on strike. Without fearing injury, Ali smote the ball for 4! (However the cricketing gods would get their own back on the following day!)

Exmouth is such a lovely ground that it always hard to leave after the game as we enjoyed the views from the balcony while enjoying a drink after the game. Although perhaps not as competitive a game as we had planned, it was really good to see the whole club enjoying the game no matter what team they played in. It was wonderful too to see some of our former players and families come down to make a real day of it.

Back to Torquay in the evening and a meal out at a well-known pub chain where I got a bit of stick by matching a different wine to each of my 3 courses. I like to pretend I am used to fine-dining! As the youngsters headed out for yet another night at Torquay’s solitary night spot, and finding mine host had closed the bar early, it was time to rest ready for last 2 days of tour and dream of making my tour debut this year.