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Tour 2019: 1st Pastel de Nata Trophy Series (Ansiao, Portugal)

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Played: 3 // Won: 2 // Lost: 1
Runs Scored: 570 // Runs Conceded: 537 // Wickets Taken: 25 // Wickets Lost: 21

Tour Party to Ansiao: Shahed Ahmed, Nick Berry (capt), Phil Berry,
Matt Bezuidenhout, James Brown, Lewis Brown, Amit Dave, Nipun Don, Will Freeland, Dan Gibson, Alf Rehman, Sunny Sahota (v-capt, wk)

The Film

On a cold, crisp evening in January 2017 four lads from Shropshire met in Shoreditch, London for the first Shropshire Gentleman’s DC Dinner of the year. A monthly tradition that has been running between 5 (Daniel Webb, Lewis Brown, Nick Berry, Simon Howells and Sunny Sahota) of Shropshire’s finest in London for 7 years.

Once “Honoury Founding Father” Lewis Brown had perused the wine menu in pursuit
of his 3rd bottle of the evening, discussion quickly turned to Cricket (much to the annoyance of “Founding Father” Daniel Webb who’s sporting tipel of choice is more suited to a Saturday afternoon spent on the terraces at Margate FC, rather than a rainy Summer’s day stuck in a field for 8 hours!)

Cricket is a sport that never completely leaves you through life, regardless of whether you were a young county school boy player destined for greatness or simply someone who played relentlessly in the backyard re-creating Ashes scenarios of years gone by. For the 4 of us, we had come full circle and were ready to don the whites once more and look to play a few games a season, re-living some of our most special childhood memories of playing the great game.

So with that in mind at dinner, we decided to start our own social side with a view to making new friends and finding some of the most scenic and beautiful places to play around the country (not to mention the distant dream of taking our small little team overseas on tour!) We made a list of the most ridiculous team names we could come up with before landing on Top Knockers Cricket Club.

Fast forward 2.5 years, 16 matches, 48 players, 2584 runs, 109 wickets, 1 century, 9 fifties and 2 four wicket hauls and we were ready to embark on our first ever overseas tour. We were heading to the small town of Ansiao in the North of Portugal to take on our amazing hosts by the name of Amigos Cricket Club where we would battle it out for the Pastel De Nata Trophy.

It has been very special to experience this amazing tour with 11 brilliant players and friends (5 of which all played in our first ever match) as well as our tribe of supporters, otherwise known as the Wide Maiden Army. A weekend that will stay in the memory forever and one that has set a fantastic bench mark for how a tour should be done for every year now on!

“Why do Stevenage Police have Alf’s driving license?”

It’s not the question I expected to hear as we landed in Porto, but looking back, it set the tone for the weekend ahead quite perfectly.

Two hours and a stubby Sagres later we arrived at our tour digs; a traditional Portuguese country manor that could comfortably accommodate all 14 of us (or 38 if you include the Virgin Mary’s).

A brick BBQ in the garden inspired the evening’s food, so the four hungriest lads hopped in the Alfa (not BMW) to stock up on meat, beer, wine, meat, rum, crisps, meat and meat.Enough to last the weekend, we thought.

The early evening was spent getting our eye in with a slightly-too-competitive game of backyard cricket. One-hand-one-bounce quickly developed in to a multi-rule game of actual cricket, which saw all fun replaced with competitive spirit. Talking of spirit. The bottle of rum lasted one night.

It accompanied a fantastic spread of burgers, peri-peri-peri-peri chicken, spicy sausage and a delicious rice salad. The beer and wine flowed. As did the chitter-chatter. Before we knew it we were all best pals and ready for another game of backyard cricket. This time in the dark.

It gets a bit fuzzy after that. Matt and James arrived and settled in at mid on and mid-off.

A great start, but we still didn’t have an explanation for Alf’s license.

All of the booze had also gone.

The sun rose over eleven empty wine bottles and a small Everest of Sagres as eleven less  than sharply-focused cricketers rose unsteadily from their beds, the faint memory of a magnificent BBQ still somewhere in the fog, and tried to find their way outside, dodging kittens (where did they come from?) as they scrambled for the hammocks.

Our boys, however, are nothing if not resilient and in no time Alfie had organised a wine-tasting tour (groan!) for a few connaisseurs, whilst the rest high-tailed it off to Coimbra for some culture. On return it was time to think about cricket, the reason we had come here, after all, and prepare for the first match, a 20-20 under lights! How would the boys manage on AstroTurf in a stadium with hangovers? The answer?
Very well, as they played the first of what would turn out to be three gripping,
nay, pulsating matches!

In a game that ebbed and flowed the Knockers showed terrific fighting spirit in
chasing 159, falling four runs short in a closely-fought contest.

Nobody really knew what to expect, but when Clive for Amigos, sent the third ball of the innings for six it was game on. At 44-3 Knockers felt that they were in the mix, however, Chris joined Drew at that point and 87 runs later the pair had put Amigos in a strong position. Nevertheless, Knockers were fielding with skill and agility and they gradually pulled themselves back into the match – a couple of good run-outs and some classy work on the boundaries, plus some intimidating bouncers from Matt in the gloom reined Amigos back in and, despite a super 70 not out from Drew,
Knockers felt in with a chance.

And they set off to chase down 159 calmly and coolly, with skipper Nick setting the tone beautifully. At 30-1 Will joined Nick and the pair put on 97 at a great lick before Nick was calamitously, and, in his mind, controversially given LBW! Knockers had wickets in hand, however, and were edging the contest, before Chris put in a great bowling stint of 5-0-22-1 and Knockers started to get frustrated, with Alf parting company with his bat upon his untimely dismissal! With two overs to go the match was balanced on a knife-edge, but Amigos managed to frustrate Matt’s final assault and ran out winners in a fantastic game.

What a game! More beer, friendly banter, super food followed and,
as it turned out, two more amazing games.

Match 1 of 3: October 11th, 2019 – The Woodlands, Ansiao, Portugal

Amigos – 158 for 7 (25 overs)  TKCC – 155 for 5 (25 overs)

RESULT: AMIGOS CC WON BY 3 RUNS // SCORECARD: HERE

The morning of day 3 of any tour was always going to be a struggle both mentally
and physically.

Having gone to bed relatively early to get some valuable shut eye I awoke to the noise
of groans and the words ‘F**K I’m stiff mate’! In some countries that would sound rather dodgy but as we were on tour I let that one go. But as soon I stood up,
I knew exactly what the lads meant.

Holy crap how on earth are we going to play today. Like everyone, bruised and battered
I could barely grab my towel. Breakfast followed… when I say breakfast I mean grab whatever you can find… brie, stale bread and chorizo washed down with a black coffee.

The bus arrived at 10:30am to collect the team. I went with chirpy Chris, who for the whole journey kept on asking me if we had a strong team today. I replied…. ‘We unchanged Chris. that means we are the same 11 people mate’

We lost the toss and the Amigos chose to bat.

A solid bowling start with both openers out cheaply thanks to tight bowling from
Amito and Shahed. Amigos led by their tidy number 3 started to gain the upper hand with boundaries coming regular built a score pass 150.

Enter Dan ‘ Ice Man’ Gibson or Gibbo to his mates. Who bowled with beautiful
control and consistency supported by excellent Lewis at the other end. The runs dried
up and the wickets steadily fell. The Amigos finished 220 for 9.

A sensational lunch followed washed down with a few cold Sagres put us
in good spirits to believe we could knock this score off.

Our openers Alf and Shahed looked solid but didn’t convert their starts. They quickly were followed by Dan who was LBW. Skips was in next and looked in good touch.

A series of 4s followed and it looked like we had steadied the ship. Over to you Lewis… caught first ball. What a howler with the score 40 for 4. I was next.. met by wise words from Skips, ‘it’s not looking good but stick around and let’s see where we are in
a few overs’.

The score nudge up to 75 and we started to believe…. And then Skips pushes one
to mid off straight after drinks. Amit followed then an over later Nipun… both playing let’s just say interesting shots in the context of the game! To recap we’re 105 for 7 needing 115 runs to win. The game slipping away from us.

Next batsman was Matt and just like what happened at Lords for the WC final
an extraordinary run chase between us begun. These days are few and far between and for those in the stands witness something very special. We put on 115 to win the match.
I finished with 112 not out and Matt 24 not out.

Incredible! What a win!!

Surely the best comeback in Top Knockers history.


Match 2 of 3: October 12th, 2019 – The Woodlands, Ansiao, Portugal

Amigos – 221 for 9 (40 overs)  TKCC – 224 for 7 (39 overs)

RESULT: TOP KNOCKERS WON BY 3 WKTS // SCORECARD: HERE

As the drizzle descended on Saturday evening, so the grey sky rise on a
blustery Sunday morning.  As unstoppable as the mighty turbines above
Pousaflores, the tour rolled on.

The morning routine had now become second nature – engrained into TKCC
souls; the roll out of bed; the growing compound hangover of consecutive
days’ cricket and beer swilling; Sunny’s request for the battery charger;
who snored THIS time? And the precarious decent down a dark staircase of
horrifying gradient. Then throw on the necessaries; be greeted downstairs
with a cup of tea by Laura (excellent work), throw down a bowl of coco-pops
before the inevitable…

Captain Chris arrives with frustrating punctuality at 10am sharp. We bid
farewell to the ladies of the barmy army who didn’t look at all angry to be
left with yet another breakfast bombshell to tidy up.  They hid their
irritation upon our departure as well as they hid their boredom during the
match, and for that they all surely deserve outstanding performances of the
tour.

Toss pre agreed by Nick and Captain Chris in during the journey to the
ground – we would for the first time bat first…

An Unwelcome Surprise

Upon a drizzly arrival, outstepped the dishevelled TKCC crusaders, casting
bleary eyes across now familiar ground. Though, something was different…
fresh faces.

The Amigos team looked disappointingly fresh and feisty on Sunday morning.
Especially odd as they must have been up all night trawling through their
little black book of Portuguese players, since low and behold there were two
young ringers warming up in the nets *eyeroll*. It transpired Rahul and
Shani were two T20 specialists who didn’t mind travelling up from Lisbon at
4am to make sure they had ample time to warm up *eyeroll*. They were fast,
and probably expensive.

The Batting

The decision to bat first was simple; we were exhausted and hungover.
Luckily, since our valiant skipper had carefully studied and finally found
the weakness of the opposition captain (begging), Captain Chris had played
into our hands and consented to our request. The match had not yet begun and
we were already one victory up; all was going to plan *wink*.

Strangely, the night’s rain had done nothing to soften the astroturf pitch
or hamper its supernatural bounce. The Amigos’ bowling line up had been
strengthened by the new members’ pace, but one should not underplay their
elders’ consistency. As in previous matches, they kept things rather tight.

The standout batting partnership from yesterday (Will and Matt) were due to
bring up the rear, which suited them both as they seemed to pick up injuries
like wombles do litter.

Alf, visibly shaken from the news his bosom-buddy
Les-the-sharp-tongued-Aussie-wicketkeeper had hung up his boots for the
weekend, put his broken heart behind him (professional) and rose to the
occasion building an excellent partnership with Sunny as openers. Alf began
by playing second fiddle to Sunny who drove through the V beautifully
scoring 28, before edging one to the slips. Alf then took centre stage,
joining James and finally Lewis at the crease, when Sunny decided enough was
enough and triggered him for LBW. After a short TMO review the decision was
sportingly quashed by Stubbsy, their mid-off. Bat-to-pad was undeniable, Alf
recalled, Sunny ashen-faced. Alf fell eventually to Shani (magic ringer) for
62 and Lewis went on to score a highly reasonable 36, 36 more than the
previous day.

Experts in the cricketing world would describe what followed as a
‘collapse’. Nipun fell early. The skipper ran himself out for 3, Shahed hit
a brace of fours before Shani *eyeroll* splayed his stumps. Amit and Matt
steadied the ship with a partnership of 19 before both being dismissed by
ringer Shani *eyeroll*.  Finally, the job of tickling a few more out of the
total fell to Will and Dan. Will had been promised a quiet morning and
looked like he needed it.  After moaning about his sore foot for basically
for the whole innings, Will rose and did what he does best. He scored a
quick couple then as the final delivery was due, a call from the bleachers
echoed “send it to the moooooooooon,” Will duly did so with a straight drive
over the bowlers bonce – six of the best.  191 runs for 5 wickets.

Lunch

Knockers stayed vigilant as finally they cottoned on the impressive quality
and quantity of lunch offered was but another divisive tactic to slow us
down in the forthcoming innings. Two soups, array of sandwiches and a
triumph of cakes/deserts calmed the nerves before the final showdown.

Half Time Plot Update

Behind the scenes, Knockers weren’t feeling confident they’d scored enough.
Not a full blown disaster, but equally we had definitely left quite a few
runs (and the glorious Pastel da Nata) on the table. The series was for the
Amigos’ taking.

The Bowling

It was clear that if the Knockers were to win this match they would have to
be ruthlessly efficient with their bowling and fielding.  And so Amit led
the charge:

*That* first ball: Amit charged headlong into the wind, his black curls
billowing. Every sinew and muscle in his right arm was taught. Primed.  As
he released the virgin delivery of the innings – this missile of intent –
silence fell across the forest. At breakneck speed, it swung in
ever-so-slightly, yorking a bewildered Clive and cartwheeled all three
stumps (actually happens every time). The silence broke simultaneously from
all directions. All Knockers raucously celebrated, but  none more than
Nipun, whose earlier duck had been surpassed by one of the golden/king/ruby
variety, and therefor avoided the downing the duck of regret! The mood was
set.

I will spare the reader a blow by blow breakdown of every ball, however all
leather-flingers kept their economies below 6 an over, with Nipun keeping
them to 2.5 (if you ignore the extras!).  The story of the bowling attack
was consistency: Amit (6O, 1W, 1M), Alf (7O, 1M), Dan (6O, 2W), Lewis (6O,
1W, 2M), Nipun (2O, 1M), Soulman James (1O), with special mention to Wolfman
Shahed (7O, 4W, 2M). Tight.

Keeping it tight and tidy in the field:

The field seemed a little larger on day 3 and Knockers’ legs seemed a little
shorter. However the bowlers’ performances seemed to inspire our finest
fielding performance of the tour. We became a fielding team possessed and
with every run saved we came closer to the Pastel da Nata. This was showing
and even the Amigos began to applaud the dives and saves across the field.

It pains your writer to draw attention to his own modest skills, but it
would be remiss not to mention that he was accosted  by one of the
opposition at the drinks break who had developed “a little bit of a man
crush” due to the fielding finesse witnessed. Let me tell you ladies and
gents, when a man on the run from the UK authorities tells you he likes the
way you handle balls and “every time you run past him a bit of wee comes
out,” you don’t muck about – you say ‘thank you very much’ and get back out
to square leg pronto.

As the overs slipped away from the Amigos it became clear they would
struggle to catch our 191. With the Barmy Army in joyous spirits, Nipun and
James finished off the overs, leaving the Amigo tail enders with little to
work with. TKCC win by 33 runs, and are clapped off the field by a
congratulating Amigo throng.

There was a lot of love in the changing room after the game. Giggles, towel
whipping and soap dropping had become common place, but as the changing room
cleared for the final time two Knockers left behind had become particularly
complimentary, “I bet Iceman (Dan) shags a lot of birds,” “Yeah, I bet he’s
really good at making love.” No evidence has been uncovered to refute this
as we go to press.

A riotous award ceremony followed, with Alf, Will, Shahed, Dan, Amit, Lewis, Heather and Phil picking up gongs for their outstanding performances. We were treated to yet
another fabulous spread, dining pitch-side with our new Amigos. Fittingly,
our last moments at the Woodlands ground were spent eating drinking and
planning our rematch.  Once a series of heartfelt thankyous to the Amigo
players, supporters and expert chefs was completed the TKCC crusaders headed
back to the villa training complex for decompression. Job done.

With such warm hospitality at the ground, the only regret of the tour is
that we didn’t carve out enough time to do justice to TKCC’s own tour awards
that evening. With special thanks to Alf for putting these together, the
most notable performances of the tour are awarded as below:

Match 3 of 3: October 13th, 2019 – The Woodlands, Ansiao, Portugal

TKCC – 191 for 9 (35 overs)  AMIGOS – 158 for 9 (35 overs)

RESULT: TOP KNOCKERS WON BY 33 RUNS // SCORECARD: HERE

Still buzzing from #ThatWeekend #Tour… Just clinging on to the memories for dear life…

Hope this makes you smile as I am now, inhaling coffee from my Amigo’s mug in the back of my uber through rush hour traffic…

Yes – you guessed it – its the summary from Sunday Night….


TKCC Inaugural Tour Awards List

1/ Shredded Wheat Moment of Madness  – Alphonz: Dissent #Baaaaaaat

(Nick and Matt Run Outs the other nominees)

2/ Best Dressed Tourist – Mrs Heather Berry

(2nd place = Sunny’s Saturday Night Shirt)

3/ Bowling (Lead wicket taker) – Shahed “Wolfie” Ahmed 
(Runner-Up Dan “The Ice Man” Gibson accepted award on Shahed’s behalf)

4/ BattingLevers / – John “Iberico” Bercow (AKA Will Freeland)
– The greatest knock Alphonso has ever seen in 15 million games of cricket #Orderrrrrrrrrrr)

(Runner Up = Skipper #Consistent #RightHandedDavidGower)

5/ Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Matt: Saturday Partnership & Unbeaten all week
#RedInker #Asterisk

(Runner up = Amit aka The Kuala Lumpur Express, Bowling)

6/ Champagne Moment – By 5 votes to 4 – Amit: Cliveos’ King Duck

(Runner up = Levers/Iberico: nominated twice for final over heroics and Sunday’s final ball maximum 😂😂😂 #SendItToTheMoon


7/ Cava Moment = Phil’s catch on Day 1
(first genuine wicket of tour (not Les’s shocking dropped chance run out )

8/ Casal Ventozela Vinho Verde Spirito di Giro
Louie-Louie #smile #attitude #committment #drinkhardplayhard

(Runners up = SoulMan, Skipper, VC Sunny, Charlie – #SameHashtags)


Lets do the same awards next time but nominations by committee and decisions by council..

Massive “Mult Obrigado” to all the organisers and the TK Barmy Army once more.
Arrivederci Laaaaads
Alfos
Tour Veteran, Zero ODI’S, Zero Tests, Millions of runs (In the back garden)

Tour 2019: Portugal - Batting & Fielding Averages

NameMatInnNORunsHSAve100504s6sCtSt
Will Freeland332168112*168.01023700
Matt Bezuidenhout3335124*51.0*006120
Alf Rehman330736224.3019220
Sunny Sahota310282828.000601 (0/1)0
Nick Berry330623620.6007110
Dan Gibson330391813.0006100
Lewis Brown330373512.3004210
Shahed Ahmed320241212.0005000
Amit Dave32015107.5003000
James Brown321535.0000000
Nipun Don220331.5000000
Phil Berry1000//000010

Tour 2019: Portugal - Bowling Averages

NameMatOvBallsMdnsRunsWktsAveBBEcon4w5wStr/Rate
Dan Gibson31487252510.43-263.70017.4
Shahed Ahmed319126398714.04-315.21018.0
Matt Bezuidenhout3533038219.02-387.60016.5
Amit Dave3191232100425.02-215.30030.8
Lewis Brown319114292330.62-474.80038.0
James Brown316040/0-44.000/
Nipun Don27531390/0-55.600/
Alf Rehman31610911020/0-116.400/
Uncategorized

Skip’s Stag – May 2018

Earlier this Summer was my stag do, and lucky enough for me, my best man, brother and TKCC express train bowler Jamie arranged a cricket match at the famous and stunning Valley of the rocks home of Lynton & Lynmouth Cricket Club in Coombe Martin.

We had the whole pitch for the day and had a stag cricket match including TKCC regulars Sunny Sahota (#10), Jamie Berry (#12), Amit Dave (#4), Phil Berry (#20), Neal Lamont (#22) and Henry Williams (#30).

Below is a selection of fantastic photos taken by Jim Minhas of The Traps (@TheTraps) fame.

 

 

 

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New Kits for 2018

A New Year. A New Season. And now we have new team kits.

2017 was a successful first season for Top Knockers and we are looking forward to go into the new season with more experience, more fixtures and our first team kit.

We are proudly sporting logos for U-Care a charity we help raise support and awareness for each season with Warborough CC and also Opening Up Cricket, a charity we are looking to help support from this Season.

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TKCC Wedding Tour – Brazil

A few weeks ago TKCC went on their first trip abroad, but not to play any cricket.

We went and celebrated the wedding of our star allrounder Simon Howells who married his now beautiful wife Carolina.

Present from the TKCC team of 2017 were Best man and batsman of the season Lewis Brown, vice captain Sunny Sahota, and captain Nick Berry.