MCC have returned from their Tanzania and Kenya tour organised in association with Sporta Tours.
The eleven-day tour, which also included a match in Kenya, was the final of four overseas tours that have taken place with Sporta Tours this year, following trips to China, Hong Kong, and the UAE.
MCC played three T20 matches and two 50-over matches in Dar el Salaam, the former capital of Tanzania, and its largest city. All games took place at the UDSM (University of Dar el Salaam) Sports Ground.
The squad then moved over the border to Kenya, where they faced a Kenya Select XI at the Nairobi Club, before returning to the UK. MCC’s players also held various coaching sessions with local youngsters during the trip.
Tim Kirk, who has played over 100 times for MCC over the past two decades, managed the tour, whilst playing-wise there was a mix of both youth and experience amongst the squad.
MCC was captained by Mike Coles, who also skippers Wiltshire in the Minor Counties Championship. Ruel Brathwaite, who has played county cricket for both Durham and Hampshire, as well as representing West Indies, was also included whilst Steven Clark, Robert Cross, and James Hindson, formerly of Leicestershire, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire respectively, are part of the squad.
James Dixon, who has represented England’s Deaf team since 2005, and former MCC Young Cricketer Scott McKechnie, Head Coach at Kowloon Cricket Club in Hong Kong, were also included amongst a number of other playing members of MCC.
MCC’s Umpire for the trip was Roger Tolchard, who played Test and One-Day International cricket for England in the 1970’s.
Tanzania has a long association with cricket, dating back to 1890, when the game was first introduced to the region by British settlers.
The nation was granted Associate Membership of the International Cricket Council in 2001, and have since competed in the ICC World Cricket League. MCC last toured Tanzania in 2012.
MCC Head of Cricket John Stephenson said: “MCC are delighted to be able to support Tanzania Cricket’s development”.
“The trip completes another successful schedule of MCC overseas tours for this year, with another group of playing members getting the chance to represent the club globally, whilst helping to grow the game in areas less associated with cricket.”
Tim Kirk (Manager), Mike Coles (Captain. Corsham CC), Evert Bekker (Sevenoaks Vine CC), Ruel Brathwaite (Cambridge Granta CC), Steven Clark (Hampstead CC), Robert Cross (Heywood CC), James Dixon (Radcliffe CC)Martin Donald (Kenilworth Wardens CC), James Hindson (Caythorpe CC), Simon Lambert (New Farnley CC), Scott McKechnie (Kowloon CC), Alistair Neale (Tenterden CC), Sumeet Sharma (Finchley CC), Tom Twiney (Teddington CC), Roger Tolchard (Umpire), Alan Jones (Scorer)
Please see the below tabs if you would like to read an in-depth blog, day by day, on the happenings of the tour of Tanzania.
Credit: Jim Hindson, MCC
Members of the MCC squad took to Twitter after the tour, and expressed how much they enjoyed the tour of Tanzania.
Back home from Kenya and Tanzania. What a really enjoyable tour with MCC touring lads, all great bunch of lads, lots of good times and funny moments. Never forget about this tour! 🇹🇿🇰🇪🏏 pic.twitter.com/mx0DN09Opz
— James Dixon (@JamesDixon_UKDS) November 13, 2017
James Dixon, of Radcliffe CC and also a UK Deaf Sport Ambassador, will treasure the trip for years to come
Pleasure to represent MCC as we try to grow the game in Tanzania and… https://t.co/B0E7zp8V16
— Bobby Cross (@rjcross7) November 14, 2017
One of MCC’s main objectives of any of their tours abroad is to grow cricket in these countries they visit, hence their promotion of the “Spirit of Cricket”.
Part 1: Wake-up call for MCC in Tanzania
MCC’s Jim Hindson describes the Club’s first few days in the first blog of MCC’s overseas tour to Tanzania.
The MCC touring party met at Lord’s in beautiful autumn sunshine, looking forward to a first tour to Tanzania for seven years.
Assistant Secretary John Stephenson briefed the squad and spoke of his pride at being selected for the first time for an MCC tour back in 1999. He also outlined the role The Club plays in developing cricket in countries that are genuinely committed to growing the game. As we left through the Grace Gates there was a real sense of anticipation amongst the squad for what we might achieve whilst away, both on and off the field.
After linking up in Dubai with Scott McKechnie who flew in from Hong Kong and Simon Lambert, who had travelled from Melbourne, the full squad landed in Dar es Salaam on a sticky Thursday afternoon.
The chaotic scenes that greeted us as we queued through immigration proved in stark contrast to the Tetris-like precision displayed by our bus driver, who worked a minor miracle in loading 16 bags crammed full of kit into the vehicle. Unfortunately, he was let down by mechanical failure, leading to a comical effort to start the bus using a rusty set of jump leads as the rain began to fall. Only in Africa.
The squad were up early Friday morning with a 9am practice session scheduled. The sparse facilities illustrated the challenges faced by Tanzanian cricket but the incredible attention shown by the groundsman in sweeping every spec of dirt from an artificial wicket demonstrated a real sense of pride and love for the game.
The morning session was ideal preparation for the afternoon T20 match, which was also to be played on an artificial pitch, against a TCA Development XI.
The hosts won the toss and elected to bat, racing to 58 for 1 in the power play overs, hitting cleanly through the line of the ball and giving the MCC bowling attack plenty to think about.The littered patchy outfield and undulating run ups made for a steep learning curve which the Club struggled to come to terms with. This powerplay proved a solid base to launch from as the Development XI continued to attack, making 217-4 from 20 overs. Jimmy Dixon (1-20 off 2) and Jim Hindson (1-26 off 4) were the pick of the bowlers.
The MCC responded in kind with Simon Lambert launching the first ball of the MCC’s reply out of the ground. Unfortunately wickets tumbled as the Club struggled to keep up with a demanding run rate.
Suneet Sharma with 25 (14 balls) and Ruel Braithwaite 36 (25) ensured the hosts didn’t have it all their own way, with some late lusty blows, but a 31-run defeat was a wake-up call that this will be a tough tour.
The match was played in fantastic spirit but make no mistake, the MCC are gunning for revenge in the next match versus a TCA Chairman’s XI. This may yet be played on a grass wicket depending on the forecast rain. Watch this space.
Further information regarding MCC’s tour to Tanzania can be found below.
Part 2: Rain Stops Play
MCC’s Jim Hindson describes the Club’s unfortunate case of weather in the second blog of their tour to Tanzania.
Following on from my previous blog, a reception to welcome the MCC tour party was laid on by the Tanzanian Cricket Association on Friday evening, meaning there was little time to dwell on the T20 defeat versus a TCA Development XI earlier in the day.
The British High Commissioner for Tanzania, Sarah Cooke was also in attendance and the spirit of cricket was very much in evidence as the Club mingled with local players and officials.
The Chairman of the TCA addressed the gathering and spoke of the continued development of cricket in the country to which, MCC tour manager Tim Kirk responded in kind, saying how impressed the Club had been by the standard of cricket in the first match.
Tomorrow’s match against a TCA select XI presented an opportunity to show our genial hosts that the tourists squad was also of a high standard. With this in mind, we bid the gathering a fond farewell and headed back to the hotel for an early night.
Breakfast was taken promptly on Saturday morning with a view to an 8am leave for the 50-over fixture. The view from the hotel reception presented a sorry scene though, as the rain bounced down. Flooded roads indicative that the torrential conditions had prevailed throughout the night.
The match was scheduled to take place on an artificial wicket but there was still no chance of play. Rain continued to pour throughout the day and it was no surprise when the manager received a call from TCA officials that Sunday’s match v a Chairman’s XI was also abandoned and moved to Monday.
Saturday evening was spent watching New Zealand inflict a heavy defeat on India in a T20 international. The Kiwi’s victory on the sub-continent appeared to galvanise the spirits of our own tour party and a calmer day on Sunday with afternoon sunshine and temperatures in the late twenties mean prospects of play on Monday are looking good.
Part 3: Joy on and off the pitch
MCC’s Jim Hindson describes the Club’s joy with the weather as well as their success on the pitch in his latest blog of the Tour to Tanzania.
The torrential rain of the last few days has subsided and the forecast is excellent for remainder of the Tanzania leg of the tour. Clear blue skies and temperatures in excess of 30 degrees meant Monday’s rearranged fixture against a Development XI could go ahead.
The MCC arrived at the ground early to get some practice in, with revenge very much the watchword after a defeat in the tour opener. Getting used to playing on an artificial surface with incredibly slow outfield was certainly a factor in Friday’s defeat. The Club’s response was use the training session to take the ariel route which boosted the batsmen’s confidence.
There was a casualty though, when a towering six from captain Mike Coles smashed through a car windscreen some 80 metres away, testing tour manager Tim Kirk’s diplomacy skills. An amicable resolution was reached and a smiling Kirk returned, thankfully not the only time we would see a grin on the managers 49th birthday.
The hosts won the toss and elected to bat first but an improved performance in the field by MCC saw the Chairman’s XI restricted to 157-8. Simon Lambert led the way with a superb display of off-spin after being given the responsibility of bowling during the powerplay. Lambert finished with stunning figures of 1-10 from four overs and was well supported by Evert Bekker (2-13 off 3 overs) and Sumeet Sharma (2-15 off 2).
Early wickets hampered the MCC’s reply, which faltered to 95-8 with six overs remaining. It took a calm and calculated innings of 33 not out by that man Bekker, well supported by Jim Hindson (22 not out) to see the MCC home, in an unbroken ninth wicket partnership of 68.
It was a stunning game of cricket, where the hosts once again showcased their raw talent and it was a genuine relief to record a hard fought victory. A box of twenty poppies was waiting for us when we returned, thanks to Sarah Cooke at the British High Commission following a conversation earlier in the week. It had been a good day for the club.
Tuesday saw a change of venue, as we headed out to Dar Es Salaam University bright and early to run a coaching clinic for local primary school children. Scott McKetchnie lead the session superbly and was well-supported by the tourists, who were impressed with the knowledge and talent of the youngsters.
In the afternoon, the Club took on a TCA Chairman’s XI on the first grass pitch of the tour. The Club batted after wining the toss and McKetchnie lead from the front once again with a blistering 50 from 32 deliveries, which included two fours and three sixes. Contributions down the order saw the visitors reach 124-8, on a low, slow surface which felt around par at half time.
The match was broadcast live by ITV and the skipper of the Chairman’s XI claimed his side would win easily when interviewed during the break. Galvanised by yesterday’s victory and with the bit between their teeth, MCC produced a disciplined display in the field. Captain Mike Coles produced a fantastic performance with the ball, recording figures of 3-13 from four overs which included eight consecutive dot balls and a breathtaking caught and bowled.
The tourists ran out winners by 35 runs, with seamer Jimmy Dixon also excellent with the ball, taking 3-10. The boundary count has proved the difference between the sides, with the MCC hitting three fours and five sixes, compared to just two sixes by the hosts. The victory was particularly sweet for Simon Lambert who stepped up to co-commentate on the day. “You boys have got a mountain to climb the size of Kilimanjaro” one of many gems heard on the airwaves.
With one match remaining in Tanzania, the MCC have built some momentum and will be gunning for a third victory before moving onto Nairobi to take on a Kenyan Chairman’s XI.
It’s certainly all to play for.
Part 4: All roads lead to Kenya
MCC’s Jim Hindson describes the Club’s final fixture in Tanzania ahead of a trip to Kenya for one last match, in his penultimate blog of the Tour.
After three days of baking sun in Dar Es Salaam, the MCC were cleared to play against a DSM Combined XI at the Gymkhana Club – our final tour match in Tanzania. An inscribed stone laid by FR Brown sits within the pavilion – Brown captained the first ever tour of East Africa by MCC back in 1957. Back to present day and our own skipper Mike Coles won the toss for this 50 overs per side fixture and openers Simon Lambert and Tom Twiney wasted no time in vindicating his decision. On a slow but true pitch, they pounced on width and were particularly ruthless on anything over-pitched.
Both left-handers coped remarkably well with the sweltering humidity, as the slow outfield required plenty of scampering between the wickets alongside boundaries collected along the way. Lambert was first to record his half century and shortly after Twiney reached his, his partner was raising his bat once again, to celebrate a superb century. He went on to make 102 before being caught, his dismissal finally ending an exceptional opening partnership of 182. Twiney made a cultured 76 and with contributions down the order from Scott Mckechnie (61 not out) and Evert Bekker (33), a final total of 294-4 felt 20 or so above par.
It was Jimmy Dixon who made the breakthrough when the hosts responded, trapping opener Kilasi LBW. Spinners Jim Hindson and Alistair Neale were introduced into the attack at the end of the first power play and quickly made inroads, finding some sharp turn and making life difficult for batsmen. Bowling in tandem, slow left armer Hindson finished with 5-26 and off-spinner Neale 2-20, as the hosts collapsed from 41-1 to 90 all-out as the Club recorded a comprehensive victory of 204 runs.
After the game, speeches were given by both sides and the players mingled and swapped mementoes and stories, capping a fantastic seven days in Tanzania. The MCC’s visit had undoubtably raised the profile of cricket in the country, with comprehensive newspaper coverage and matches being broadcast on live on national television.
The matches had certainly been competitive and keenly fought, with the club eventually taking a 3-1 victory in this mini-series.
The Tanzanian cricketers displayed raw talent, combined with an admirable desperation to win and the signs are that the country has real potential to develop. Women’s cricket is also strong here and the Club witnessed at first hand the passion for the game shown by junior cricketers during an MCC coaching session with primary school children.
Better facilities, a more clearly defined infrastructure to be headed up by an national coach of repute would assist in capitalising on the undoubted opportunity that exists to develop the game here. Ultimately that will come down to support from the likes of the ICC and the Club will be feeding back to the games’ governing body with a detailed report from its latest trip.
After a fond farewell, it’s off to Nairobi to take on a Kenya select XI. A visit to Amboseli National Park is planned on the way where the touring party will get 24 hours to rest some weary bodies after three games in three days, played in 30 degree heat. The aches and pains are never quite as bad on a winning streak and the Club were in high spirits as they departed on the final leg of their African adventure.
Part 5: Kenyan rain fails to ruin trip
In his final blog of the Tour, MCC’s Jim Hindson describes the Club’s concluding days in Tanzania and Kenya, with weather once again proving to be an unlikely nuisance.
Following on from my previous blog, Thursday morning began with an early flight from Dar Es Salaam to Arusha followed by a two hour drive through the north of Tanzania to the Kenyan border. Our eventual destination was Nairobi for the final fixture of the tour against a Kenyan Select XI and the journey included a spectacular drive through the heart of Ambseli National Park where the touring party enjoyed a brief stopover. This provided the opportunity to see some incredible wildlife with sightings that included lions, hippos and elephants in an experience that will live long in the memory.
The journey was capped by a visit to a Maasai tribe that saw the tour party invited into the village. We were soon sheltering inside one of the mud dwellings as torrential rains transformed the barren lands. The Maasai had been suffering drought conditions for two years before our visit and the irony was not lost on us on a tour that has been hampered by spectacular rain throughout. The grateful smiles on the Massai tribesmen as we left the now flooded village illustrated that they received far more from our brief visit than they dared to dream of.
The next day, a five-hour road trip was briefly halted in the Kenyan wilderness as, led by manager Tim Kirk, the squad remembered those who had fallen in battle in a poignant and touching ceremony.
It was early evening when the tour party arrived at the Nairobi Club – the final destination on this African tour. It was noticeably cooler than in Dar Es Salaam and we were informed that recent rain (what is it with this tour and weather!) meant that the ground was sodden and that tomorrow’s fixture might not go ahead.
The evening was spent at a black tie function organised to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Kongonis Cricket Club, who play at the Nairobi Club. A lively question and answer session on all things cricket involved a number of the squad, but it was MCC umpire (and former Leicestershire and England cricketer) Roger Tolchard who stole the show.
Elsewhere, England deaf player Jimmy Dixon has performed admirably throughout the trip and it has been fascinating to see how he has integrated into the squad. During the first week, teammates were at pains to ensure this talented seam bowler felt included, writing down notes on whatever we could get our hands on to communicate. By the end of the tour, through Jimmy’s perseverance, players had learnt to sign a number of words to Jimmy and were even communicating this way with each other. A great example of how cricket brings people together and also an insight into what a brilliant bloke Jimmy is.
Unfortunately, heavy overnight rain meant that our final match of the tour was called off without a ball being bowled. Golf and shopping were the order of the day before an evening flight to Dubai, to then transit onto London. Scott McKechie and Simon Lambert bid a fond farewell here, heading back to Hong Kong and Melbourne respectively. It’s always sad to say goodbye but to be honest, it had already felt odd departing Nairobi without Roger Tolchard who had stayed behind to visit family.
It’s amazing how close you become with people whilst on tour – a group of strangers just a couple of weeks ago now firm friends. The trip had begun with a surprise loss for the Club in the opening match but was followed by three wins and this success was matched by the commitment of the tour party to spread the Spirit of Cricket on and off the field, most notably at the primary school coaching session in Dar Es Salaam.
Thanks go to the MCC and tour manager Tim Kirk for looking after us. We may now be out of Africa but will be forever connected with teammates and friends made on a truly memorable tour.