Twenty20 Coaches team tour Vienna
Have you ever wondered whether other countries play much cricket? The answer is a big yes! There many examples of the game being played outside its traditional homes (at a high quality too)....in fact whatever country you visit, you can guarantee that cricket is there in some form.
Not only that, but you can experience it for yourself, by touring! There are so many opportunities for English clubs to tour, whether for pre-season skill honing, post-season warm downs, or even Winter indoor tournaments.
In February, Darren, Mazza and Tom from Twenty20 did just this! Our destination, Austria, for the 30th Vienna Indoor Wintercup! This is a special weekend in our calendar, packed with cricket, socialising and lots of Wienerschnitzel.
The Touregs Cricket Society is Twenty20's touring side. We are comprised of our coaches, colleagues, and a selection of friends we have met in the cricket universe. Anyone is welcome to play with us.
3 Austrian sides participate each year. The hosts, Vienna Cricket Club, Seebarn (VCC's reserves), and the Austrian youth academy, SNASY. All of Austria's cricket clubs are friendly and hospitable. But if you take them on, expect cricket with a fierce competitive edge! VCC have won their cup 3 times in the last 5 years.
3 English teams made their way to the continent. Polygons CC, who have a long history of visiting Vienna (winning the event in the 90s), Half Volleys CC and ECAD Deaf. The Wintercup has traditionally seen British clubs travel to take on the best that Europe has to offer.
2 teams from Europe were invited, and both have fascinating backgrounds. Warsaw Hussars CC are a side made entirely of Polish cricketers, while the European "Continentals" Women's team brought cricketers from Belgium, Hungary, France and Germany under the same banner. Both clubs are in their early stages of development, and both have made an amazing leaps forward in a short time.
There were 2 stages to this six-a-side tournament, the group phase (Saturday) and the finals day (Sunday). There was plenty to compete for on day 1 - with all group winners playing each other on the Sunday, there was plenty of jostling for first place, every game being live!
Group phase: Hosts Vienna won the opening group, sealing their place in the finals with a battling victory against Half Volleys CC. SNASY then came flying out of the traps, their dynamic batting and highly aggressive fielding effort too much for Hussars or Seebarn to handle. The third group was won by Polygons CC, whose discipline prevailed against the Touregs and European Women.
7th place play-offs: It was ECAD Deaf CC's day, thanks mainly to their bowlers, who found immediate inroads against both their opponents. First, European Women were skittled for a low score, the total chased swiftly. The game against Hussars was a different story. The Poles bowling attack managed to send down a mixture of wides and unplayable deliveries, bowling out Surrey Deaf for 57 in just 5.2 overs! They were then on the ropes at 10-3, before Jerzy Suchodolski held the chase together, eking out runs where they came. His resiliance kept Hussars in the hunt, but they just failed to overhaul the total. European Women finished in style, but couldn't quite defend 90 against the Hussars.
4th place play-offs: The Half Volleys were run machines on the Sunday. They hammered Touregs for 88 in 5 overs (match reduced due to late arrival, if only they could negotiate the Vienna Underground like they could bat!!). And swept to another huge score against Seebarn CC. Touregs scrambled to a last over win in the consolation match- aided in part by scoring 9 off a single ball, just when things were getting tight!
Finals: With places 4-9 decided, the main event could begin! SNASY were the team who stole the show. After sweeping past Polygons (the life of Saturday night's party!) They were pushed hard by hosts Vienna (a repeat of the 2015 final), but a few flashes of brilliance turned the match in their favour. After finishing runners-up last year, it was a hugely impressive victory for the young stars. And they still have time to improve!
The Vienna Wintercup is worth attending for the amazing warmth of the hosts alone, who know how to put on a party! The team dinner on Saturday was attended by all, at a traditional Viennese restaurant. It was a great opportunity to meet some special cricket lovers from all over Europe (8 countries represented in 2016), and make friends that will last for years.
The food and drink flowed (in large amounts, Vienna don't to catering by halves!!) and the mood was absolutely buzzing. This was thanks in no small part to our friends at Polygons CC, who treated us all to some spontaneous Karaoke.
Songs ranged from old classics, to new hits....to the downright bizarre. What the local drinkers made of our chorus of "hit me baby one more time" is open to debate!
Interested for 2017?
The Touregs will be continuing to travel to lesser-known cricket countries this year and beyond.
If you'd like to play with us, you are more than welcome! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org