2011 Budapest tour
We were away the weekend of 30th April/1st May and missed the Royal Wedding hoopla. We stayed at the NH Hotel
Back> Tricky, CGC, Arsey, Yesterdays Man, Badmo, Tink, Smut, SteveO-O, CK1 Front> Rog, Swords, Elvis, Young Spillane
The tour report by Elvis
Hungary was this scene of this year's Salix season opening tour, home to Tokaji, thermal baths and the birthplace of my wife, who had previously suggested that she wasn't sure that the Magyars played croquet and if they did, it would probably only be Twenty20 croquet. Hoops and mallets were indeed in short supply, but in the six years since I last looked into organising a Salix CC tour to Hungary, drawing a blank at that time and settling for Italy, there is now a 7 team league; they are also the Twenty20 champions of Central Europe (reports they achieved the cricket-croquet double remain unconfirmed); and the Hungarian Cricket Association has an excellent website full of contact email addresses of incredibly welcoming people who help you pull your tour itinerary together.
Armed with fixtures for a 35 over match on the Saturday and a mini 8-a-side match on the Sunday the team arrived in drips and drabs over the Thursday and Friday of the Royal Wedding weekend, celebrating the joyous occasion by exporting the 3rd best British invention of all time (cricket) with the 3,124,322nd best British invention of all time (getting drunk and lecherous in someone else's country) to foreign shores. I wasn't there for the Thursday evening, so can only comment on the Friday, where we started with dinner at a restaurant of my wife's choosing and where we were joined by Adrian Zador, the Hungarian Cricket Association's de facto Budapest social advisor and possible Nobbler-in-Chief. Adrian kindly took us round a number of bars and clubs to give us a flavour of Budapest that we wouldn't have found if we'd stuck to the tourist trail. Some of the team were sensible and ducked out relatively early before the Pálinka (local schnapps) really hit home, but others continued on into the small hours, returning only when the forces of dawn and nausea bared their yellow teeth.
The spine of our team were still in bed when the taxis departed the hotel, although Adrian was there to make sure our transport left as organised and furnish us each with a can of beer. We headed out in the sunshine to the university grounds at Godollo to play a mixed Hungarian XI, drawn from a couple of teams in the league and captained by one of the founders of Hungarian cricket, Mike Glover. Put into the field we had an excellent start when their opening batsmen drove the first ball from Steve-O straight to Tricky who took the chance after a quick juggle. A second wicket followed shortly afterwards, the catch in the covers this time taken by your correspondent off Rog's bowling, but thereafter the Hungarian team bedded in for the majority of their overs; playing on the flix-mat our bowling was far too profligate, offering too many full tosses and balls down leg-side that were easily despatched by obviously talented opponents. A hungover CGC, who had eventually made it to the ground with The Young Spillane in a taxi that presumably required subsequent fumigation, went for twenty in an over, claiming poor choice of footwear as an excuse. Nobody bought. CK1 eventually made the breakthrough with a lovely fuller pitched delivery that beat the higher scoring of the batsmen, knocking over middle and off. Thereafter it was the Swordsman show: eeking out the other half of the high scoring partnership with a caught and bowled, he then dismissed a further four in consecutive overs to give him his first fiver for the club. By the end, the Hungarian XI had made 171; a challenging target but nowhere near as daunting as it had looked it might be.
After a tea of deliciously unhealthy pizzas, Salix went into bat like headless chickens. The flix-mat requires keeping a straight low bat to anything on the stumps, but too many of the team were cleaned bowled having a swipe at good deliveries that required more sensible play. Dave-ski, The Smuggler and CK1 all fell early in such fashion and the ship was only steadied by the newly monikered Bad-Mo (previously Padders), playing a captain's innings after CGC was demoted for the day due to his tardiness. The latter did redeem himself somewhat with a decent knock himself, including a couple of fine sixes through midwicket, before he too was bowled. The Young Spillane also overcame his over exuberance related illness to stick around for a while, but once Bad-Mo was stumped off a wide the writing was on the wall: the tail didn't wag and Salix limped home for 120. All that was left was to hand over to our hosts the trophy we'd bought for the occasion and award their highest scoring batsman, Eddie, our man of the match award; he went home with a shiny Salix tour shirt, part of tour collectibles range.
One of the Hungarian players lived on campus, possibly in some sort of regal role, and led us down to the college bar, where he ensured we had enough beer and an obligatory Pálinka to kick-start our evening. For most of the team the events of the previous night had taken the wind out of our sails and a delicious but low key dinner in a central Budapest restaurant was notable only for revelations about Tricky's hobbies in his youth that have earned him the new nickname of The Smuggler. The look of joy on The Smuggler's face at this change was palpable and I'm sure he in no way now regrets inviting the team to Munich for next year's tour. A quick stop off at the nearest hostelry to the hotel aside, most of the team went to bed early; the usual stalwarts of the Swordsman and CK1, and a remarkably energetic Dave-ski, did their best to uphold Salix drinking honour by joining Adrian for a tour of a few more bars, but overall it was a weak effort.
Sunday bought rain, but we headed over to the campus at Godollo anyway with the hope that it might eventually ease. After an hour of procrastination in the college cafe it still hadn't relented, but we decided to give it a go anyway with Yesterday's Man dexterously organising us into 3 teams of 9-a-side to play a round robin 10Ten tournament: A Hungarian IX, a Salix IX and an unholy hybrid of the two known as the Hunglish IX. First up were Salix against the pure Hungarian side, the latter batting first and compiling a respectable 72 after Salix had initially kept them restricted; again too many full tosses were dispatched over the boundary. In reply the Hungarians were not nearly so generous in their bowling and in the continuing drizzle Salix could only muster a meagre 46 in the ten overs, with two lonely boundaries between us. Next match featured Salix versus the Hunglish IX, which saw a much improved bowling performance from the Salix team, initially pegging the Hunglish to 5 for 4 after 3 overs. The Hunglish rebounded a little to squeeze out 42 from their ten overs, but despite the early loss of Dave-ski that target was seen off by Salix without further loss, myself and Rog doing most of the hard work before retiring hurt to let The Young Spillane hit the winning runs for his inaugural victory as a Salix Captain. Your correspondent had retired to the college bar for the final match so didn't get to see it live, but unsurprisingly the Hungarian IX won and all that was left to do was hand over another trophy to the Hungarians for beating us again, award a shiny Salix tour shirt to Adrian for services to Salix liver damage and bestow the man-of-the-tour award to Swordsman for his outstanding bowling performance on the Saturday, to which he added a few more wickets on the Sunday. Well done that man.
I believe the rest of the team went for a curry at one of the opposition's Indian restaurants on Sunday night (Ed: true we did), but I missed that as well, out with my in-laws for a birthday dinner. Thanks very much to the Hungarian cricket players for helping me organise the tour and for being such excellent hosts - from arranging lifts for us to the ground, to giving us a guided tour of the bars of Budapest and even agreeing to play in the rain after we'd come all that way. Most of all thank you for being very friendly and welcoming.
Next up, provided The Smuggler's still speaking to us, Munich, where surely we shall prevail. After all, nothing ever goes wrong in Munich.
35 Over Game