Sydney Classics Tour of Canada and USA 2017
Americans playing cricket! Who are you kidding! Maybe you should bring baseball bats just in case.
With these comments ringing in our ears we set forth from cricket civilisation into the unknown.
I was encouraged by the fact that I had agreed 14 fixtures in advance but who knows what the playing standard would be or what sort of pitches we would be playing on. Only 3 fixtures had offered us a grass pitch.
We had a squad of 15 players 11 wives and a daughter. How would they gel? Could they keep going for 4 weeks without their bodies failing?
We all arrived in Vancouver from various points. Flight Centre had recommended the Atrium Inn. The price was great but we soon found out why! It was a bit far from the centre and …ooh the breakfast! Eaten off paper plates with a highly limited menu and limited time to eat. Not a good start I thought.
A couple of days for everyone to acclimatise (including a group meal at a great restaurant discovered by George) and we were into the cricket. The first match against Melaroma was close but the next day we were taught a lesson in T20 cricket (don’t mess with the batting order!). In the last match in Vancouver, W Vancouver had recruited young A grade players near and far having read that we were Australian but did not finish the sentence about most of us being over 60! They hit us all around the park but we batted sensibly and they only took 4 wickets. Will we ever forget Ken baiting the bowler who was kindly bowling slow and next ball receiving a lightening delivery uprooting all 3.
So on to Toronto by plane.
From here on in we were staying at hotels in the Marriott chain. Great to be in the centre of town and eat a good breakfast.
We were quickly into the cricket. The first match against the Toronto Police consisted of 2 T20 games as they wished to give different players ago. Being police we should all feel safe (shouldn’t we?).
An unforgettable match for all the wrong reasons! The field was like a paddock and they were full of youngsters. Yet again nearly all the players were of Indian extraction
They were trying to knock our heads off until we had a discussion. They hit us all around the park and played in an aggressive manner. We batted with dignity but could never win.
News of the match quickly spread throughout Toronto and our next 2 matches were tremendous. Both were on grass. The Toronto Cricket Club has magnificent facilities and we were told it cost $15K to join (not just for cricket). Mississauga Ramblers were great hosts also. Both games were well contested.
We were on the coach to Niagara when we discovered that our hotel was Sheraton on the Falls not Sheraton by the Falls. The subtle difference is that the former is in US and the latter in Canada. Our game was in Canada so we did not want to keep crossing the border where Trump had greatly increased the security. Our players were offloaded in Canada and the WAGS took all our bags across the border. Had another great day and won our first match. We were on a roll (of 1) so US watch out.
We stayed at the Marriott signature hotel, the Marquis in Times Square. Great hotel but don’t mention breakfasts!
The buzz of NY was intoxicating and we soon all got caught up in it. We had provided a number of free days so the group could do many of the things on offer. One evening we watched the New York Yankees play Baseball, and they say cricket is boring…
We played 3 excellent games. The Staten Island match deserves a mention. It is where the first international match took place, which was between USA and Canada. Also there is a picture of Bradman on the wall when he played here. It was a great win for us but was soured by Ken damaging his shoulder when diving for a catch and ending up having to fly back to Sydney.
A real change of pace here. The architecture was wonderful and no one seemed in a rush. We won both games here against the British Officers and Merion. The latter match was a highlight of the tour. We played on the lawn tennis courts with a matting pitch in the middle. The Pavilion was magnificent and colonial in style. The Australian flag was flying and we felt transported onto times gone by. Teas were wonderful and we had the most special sit down dinner in a private room. A day not to be forgotten. It only cost $26,000 to join!
We also had a coach tour of the Amish Community on our day off, which the whole group agreed was quite memorable
Our final stop. Canberra on a greater scale. Washington is also a bit sleepy but great if you like museums and memorials.
The Fairfax Club organised 2 matches for us. The first was again against youngsters, mostly Indian, and we though here we go again. But no! Our bowling was too disciplined and they succumbed to the pressure. So when we came back 3 days later to play a genuine Over 50’s side we thought this should be easier. Nooo! Nearly all West Indian and one guy said he used to captain Clive Lloyd. They were all too skilful for us but were great to play against. Bring back the youngsters!
We finished the tour with a dinner for the whole group and great frivolity.
There are a few:
So do Americans play cricket? I am sure all the new immigrants consider themselves Canadians/Americans, so the answer is Yes. They are mostly playing T20 cricket on fields with long grass so this encourages big hitting in the air. Pure cricket shots are not rewarded.
The cricket was always enjoyable even if played against younger opposition. Many friends were made and it is pleasing to see the spread of the game.
The team gelled very quickly and the Partners immediately felt part of the group. They watched some of our matches and other days went off and did their own thing. There was a great feeling of togetherness.
We had a wonderful group of people and they were a joy to manage. A special thank you to:
Paul Adams, who as vice-captain provided many words of wisdom. He captained a few matches and nothing was too much trouble
David Clarkson and Seonaid Coldrick, for being the tour photographers with support from Sandra Collins
George Hodgson, Greg Evans and Mick Hanratty, for writing the match reports in amusing and interesting fashion and giving us lasting memories
George Hodgson and Michael Collins for captaining some matches
Colin Hoving for donating the picture books of Australia which were awarded to opposition players
Greg Evans for donating RooTed, awarded after each match for some outstanding act, not always on the field and not always good!
Raga and Michael Collins for taking on the wicket-keeping duties so capably
Ken Doughty for always being a good friend to me. Hope you recover soon
Raj Anand for his great bowling efforts and ignoring the pain he was in later in the tour
Peter O’Reilly for his great all round performances and being the professional that he is
Mike Snow for coming all the way from England being prepared to play with Aussies and always taking wickets in his first over
Ron Nes for being our enforcer and being prepared to run 3’s again
Peter Harrison, collating the match statistics and photographs and putting together this report as a special record of an amazing 4 weeks
Finally thanks to all the WAGS who contribute more than they realise and ensure (reasonably) good behaviour.
There were many other memorable moments but they will have to fall under the category of ‘what happens on tour stays on tour’.
I have been asked when is the next tour and where to. I am thinking about a Gaelic Tour but will let you know in the near future
Thanks again to all who toured who made it so special for me and my wife, Mei Lai.