France Tour 2013: A Pictorial Guide
Sun 01-Sep-2013 
 

The first game against new oppo Catus involved a two-and-a-half-hour drive through torrential rain, with irregular driver Oli Haill leaning hard over the tightly-gripped steering wheel like a half-blind octogenarian. As we fielded in the second innings Kurt slipped and ruptured (he later discovered) his hamstring.

Catus's kindly gentleman cricketer Martin/Martyn, codename 'Bunter', offered his services to Pacific and then joined us for the rest of the tour, even lodging with us at Le Bastit. (Whispered allegations Bunter was a charmingly sly John Robie-alike cat burglar were soon put to bed after a missing Dog Soldier painting was located in the bedroom of Adrian Duthie's festival-loving daughter.)

Next game was at the beautiful surrounds of Damazan, bordered on one side by a serene lake and on the other by a field of corn. Thanks to wickets from Tony Tambyraja and runs from Oli Haill, Aroon Korgaonkar and Nuggsy Gleadow, Pacific chased down the total with one ball to go, with Adrian Duthie's non-cricketing son Ashley completing the winning run, after Nuggs was suicidally run out in the last over. 

Nuggsy's emergence from his nurdling chrysalis as a breezily cover-driving butterfly was one of the wonders of the tour. Confidence is a wonderful thing, and Nuggsy has now realised he has a wider array of weapons in his batting locker than the dabs and cuts that once represented his armoury.

The last game saw Pacific throw away their unbeaten record on the continent, as French Under 19 captain Dan Nott, opening for St Au Lay Casuals, happy-slapped his team to an Alain Prost-like start, dismissing Nuggs back over his head in the first over. St Au Lay contained the only genuine Frenchman we faced on the tour, a talented man called Davide who was taught the sport by an English school teacher and is now director of cricket for France, and another player who is the coach for the aforementioned national Under 19s. 

Despite the sometimes dibbly and sometimes dobbly efforts of Haill, Bunter, and the rarely unfurled bowling arms of Duthie and Richards, Pacific had a fairly significant chase on their hands. And it was one that they came nowhere near accomplishing, with former heroes Nuggs and Aroon chastened by a combination of opening the batting and a pitch on which no Pacific player could find their rhythm. That only two boundaries were notched up until Oli Haill came in at 5 was an indication of how difficult the visitors found it to time the ball on this slow-bouncing astroturf wicket despite its similarities with its distant cousin Wray.

We only got to within 100 runs thanks to our own France Under 19s ringer, James, who knew the pitch and belted a few boundaries that we were very grateful for.