The senior cricket tour of India got underway on Boxing Day. Mr Peter Smith, English Teacher and cricket coach summarises the trip:
On arrival, we headed first for three games in Mumbai, two of them on the famous Oval Maidan in the centre of the city. These matches were against the cricket academy run by former Indian test batsman Dilip Vengsarkar, and his attendance at the third of these games was one of the highlights of the tour.
In the first of these games, the Hampton boys took an early advantage, with half the Academy batsmen dismissed for under a hundred. But the hosts recovered strongly to post a total which, in the event, was just out of the tourists’ reach.
The second match underlined the impression that Indian cricket at this level is exceptionally strong, but the tourists were now becoming acclimatised to the conditions – and the quality of the opposition – and this was reflected in events in the third game, the best of the three played out in Mumbai.
At first, the host team performed strongly, setting a target of over two hundred. But exceptional batting from the tourists’ top four batsmen brought the target within reach. At this point, the hosts showed why India is the top cricket nation, with a fielding display that snatched the game from the tourists and chalked it up to the host team.
Between the first game and the second, the party was given a tour of the city of Mumbai. From the Gateway to India to the remarkable Victorian railway station, from the exclusive Marabar Hills to the somewhat sobering Dhobi Ghat, the tour was an overwhelming experience, illustrating the colourful diversity of this remarkable city.
Next the party headed for Ahmedabad, a six-hour train ride north of Mumbai. Our fourth match was played out in front of the most spectacular backdrop of the tour, a religious college whose spires and onion domes evoked an inspiring tradition of Indian architecture.
Once again the match veered from one side to the other. Hampton batted first and posted a respectable total, but the Indian side seemed to have the situation in hand. Then a clatter of wickets brought victory to the tourists as well as the congratulations of a senior religious figure who had come to the game to meet the tourists.
The fifth and sixth games seemed almost to summarise the tour as a whole. In the fifth, Hampton found it hard to live with some extremely efficient Indian cricket, but in the sixth, the tourists raised their game to meet the new standard, eventually emerging the unluckiest of losers, beaten by a single run.
There was time on the final day of the tour to take a trip around Ahmedabad, to visit a number of places of religious significance and to sample some of the local cuisine at a bustling fast-food restaurant in the city centre. It was a vivid and exhausting day, full of unforgettable impressions, and in that respect, a perfect summary of the tour as a whole.
For more detailed reports on each of the matches, visit Hampton Sports Chronicle online: hamptonsportschronicle.org.uk
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