Projects Abroad Team Triumph in Indian Cricket Contest
India volunteers, Alice French and Ben Thurman tell us about their weekend of cricket, cows and controversy.
'On Saturday 10th February, for the third time, volunteers from all over the globe gathered to challenge the mighty staff at Projects Abroad to a game of cricket. The volunteers were at something of a disadvantage, having only three real cricketers amongst them but, with the assurance that the game would not be taken too seriously, spirits remained high.
The volunteers suffered an early setback as their captain, Simon Walker, tried - unsuccessfully - to field the ball with his head in pre-match practice on Friday evening. He was rushed into hospital and, although declared fit to play, it was clear that his performance suffered as a result. Moreover, our ranks were further depleted as a key member of the volunteers' team mysteriously fell ill the night before the match. Sabotage was suspected.
We were all rudely awoken at the unearthly, and frankly unfair, hour of 6am (thanks Pabbu!) in order to get to the pitch in time for the 'fun match'. Though looking around the breakfast table, one wondered how much fun anyone was likely to have at that hour of the day! The so-called 'fun match' consisted only of volunteers - cunningly split up into team A and team B - all desperate to prove their worth on the cricket pitch. Some impressed with their skills, whilst others found the game somewhat more challenging. Alice French caused our captain some serious selection problems, but did not quite make the final XI (or fit into the kit). Frederik Isler had the misfortune of being bowled out first ball, for a golden duck or - as volunteer Leonie Lawrence sagely commented - was it a golden eagle? This notwithstanding, he yet somehow managed to make the team. Sexism was suspected.
The real game began with the Projects Abroad staff batting first. Rajendran, who opened the batting, blasted into the game with a dynamic performance, sadly cut short when he was outpaced by Pandi. However Pandi's stint at the crease was also short-lived as, following a brilliant bit of bowling from Ben Thurman, he was caught out by Alice Lindsay or 'Big Al', as she likes to be known. Regardless of her incessant apologies, it is unlikely the two will ever really be friends again. Victor, the imposing opposition captain, then entered the crease and, despite some inspiring bowling from Freddie Swift, managed to preserve his wicket until he was expertly caught out by Alex. Another highlight was Fred Miles' surprisingly athletic piece of fielding, resulting in Pabbu's dismissal. Helped by significant contributions from the rest of his team - and despite Frederik Isler's alternative bowling style - Victor guided the Projects Abroad staff to a healthy total of 146.
The volunteers' innings got off to a promising start with a superb opening stand of 70 between Ben Thurman and Freddie Swift, before the inspired decision to bring Pabbu on to bowl, resulted in the former being dismissed for 23. A catastrophic middle order collapse ensued as Simon and Tom were returning to the pavilion almost before they had reached the wicket. Freddie 'man of the match' Swift controlled the innings, with help from Fred Miles who made 10, before being dismissed on 80. This left Frederik Isler and Leonie Lawrence to bring up the tense conclusion to this enthralling match, and it was here that we saw Frederik's place in the team justified as the Swiss superstar outplayed himself in his first ever game of cricket. In the controversial last over, Leonie Lawrence was judged run out, going for the run to tie the match. The volunteers were left forlorn and dejected as they lost the match by a mere 1 run to the far more experienced Projects Abroad side. Victor's until then unseen competitive side shone through as he ecstatically lifted the trophy up on high (although not that high), and the writing on the back of his shirt said it all! Alice Lindsay also batted well.
Despite the unwelcomingly wet weather, painfully early start and occasional intrusions by cows on the pitch, it was overall a highly successful day, enjoyed by all. So, from all the volunteers, a sincere thank you to the staff at Projects Abroad, but also a warning that this defeat was but a minor setback and will only make us stronger, so next time - watch out!'