Over the course of the week commencing 18th March 2012, thirty three members of Finedon Dolben Cricket Club set off on tour to Benidorm to play Sporting Alfas Cricket Club. Around half of the party set off on the Monday with the other half joining them on the Thursday.
The Thursday morning group set off from Finedon at 3:30am and soon arrived at Stansted Airport. After a brief delay at airport security, due to a former 1st XI captain forgetting to remove a pen knife from his hand luggage, many of the group decided it would be appropriate to start as we meant to go on and try a quick beer. This would turn out to be the first of many for the week.
Once we had negotiated the 2 ½ hour flight, and finally found the bus that was to transfer us to the hotel, we met up with the rest of the group where it became apparent that Benidorm was warmer and a lot busier at this time of the year than Mallorca had been in previous years.
With Benidorm veteran Andy Presland leading the way we went out to explore… In order to keep to the old adage of "what goes on tour stays on tour" we now have to fast forward to Saturday morning and the day of the game against Sporting Alfas.
After what seemed like a three hour bus trip we arrived at the picturesque ground underneath a cloudy sky. We were also greeted by former Finedon resident Gary Donaldson and his wife who now live in Benidorm and had come to watch the game. Rather unfortunately only five regular cricketers made the trip so the Dolben touring team had to call up said Benidorm veteran and former first team star Andy Presland, James Houghton, who must have found it strange using a cricket pavilion rather than working in one, and the enigmatic Jon Baish, as well as borrowing three players from Sporting Alfas.
Upon winning the toss Dolben skipper for the day Ed Billson decided to bowl first. It was then found that not only did the Dolben not have any keeping kit; we didn’t actually have a wicket keeper! Step forward Jon Baish who proceeded to put in a virtuoso display behind the stumps that few could have bettered on their wicket keeping debut, and especially not by anyone wearing shorts and a Celtic shirt. The only possible complaint that could be made was a slight naivety towards the LBW rule - "Am I supposed to appeal when the batsman stops the ball from hitting the wickets with his pads?" Jon asked afterwards!
The Dolben restricted Sporting Alfas to 138 all out which included three wickets for Sporting Alfas youngster Tyler Brown, two each for Alex Hawkes and Ed Billson and one a piece for Andy Presland (possibly his first since dismissing West Indian international Roger Harper), James Houghton (with the one delivery he bowled with a straight arm) and Chris Westland, who was also loaned from Alfas for the day.
The Dolben then proceeded to knock the runs off for the loss of four wickets with Andy Roberts making 33 not out and Tom Minney 47 not out, thus proving his tour batting to be considerably better than his tour organisational skills.
A good day seemed to be had by all and we would like to thank Tyler, Chris and Neil for playing for the Dolben from Sporting Alfas, the umpires and scorers, and Andy, James and Jon for turning out in a game they were probably not expecting to.
Everyone continued to enjoy the quite unique Benidorm culture (which included two wonderful Freddie Mercury and Mick Jagger karaoke tributes by members of the touring party in the Black Chicken) until 7am on the Monday morning when the bus left to take us back to the airport. Well nearly all of us… No doubt still suffering the effects of potentially being hypnotised the night before one room had failed to wake up and missed the bus! Indeed, their day got even worse when it appeared that they would have to be making a trip to the British Embassy in Madrid as they were missing a passport! Luckily the passport was found and one taxi ride and 75 Euros later they met the rest of the group at the airport.
We returned to Finedon at around 2:30pm after a thoroughly enjoyable tour and I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Sporting Alfas Cricket Club for their hospitality, Andy for organising the trip, Pete and Sue for sorting out the money and Paul and Alison for transporting the kit.
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