The 2017 MCC Tour Witterings of the Former Skipper

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Having spent the last 2 weeks reflecting on the 3 days of debauchery that took place from the 25th to 28th of July under the guise of a ‘cricket tour’, I must confess I am yet to fully recover from the experience. I witnessed scenes on a golf course that would make John Daly blush; a grown man breaking down before 6pm on the first day in a manner worthy of Paul Gascoigne; a 16 year old manchild REPEATEDLY carrying out acts in Pompey nightclub toilets that would be more commonplace in a Devonshire prison cell; and the man-child’s older sibling engaging in the kind of last resort behaviour usually reserved by Bear Grylls for those tricky stranded in the desert scenarios (rather than those slightly less tricky, stranded in Wetherspoons at 5 in the afternoon scenarios).

Like the oldest and purest format of the great game, the experience was a true test for all those involved, not least for the bar tenders, bouncers, McDonalds employees, Ibis cleaning staff and the hanging baskets of Portsmouth. Of the tourists themselves, some performed EXACTLY as expected (Chop, Burn), some survived extreme lows (Jerm, Cameron and Douglas by all accounts), some were just plain weird (Hamish Walker) and some demonstrated the kind appetite for alcohol, depravity and chaos befitting of such an event (Glover, Cox, Pasc).

While all participants should be acknowledged for going the distance, one man went further than anyone to ensure his name will rightly go down in the annals of tour history, as the 2017 Man of Tour. Whether it was his over excited pre-tour straight arming in the Wheel, over the shoulder swilling of Jerm’s ginger lady friend, consuming enough Dark Fruit to justify personal sponsorship from Strongbow, repeatedly turning dance floors into wrestling rings, clean bowling the Portsmouth CC opening bat first ball of the innings while 8 Darkies deep, or continuing to wage his own personal war on hanging baskets across the country, Ben Gardner’s performance will long be remembered by both his fellow toursists and the residents of Portsmouth alike. The bar has well and truly been set and I urge anyone reading this to raise a glass to Ben when you next see him.

A nod also to the elder statesmen of the club, whose commitment to tour was such that they travelled 3 hours in rush hour traffic, just to watch a Tour T20, sink 15 pints with the boys and consume vast amounts of lamb madras. Outstanding effort.

Cricket wise the ‘tour within a tour’ to the Isle of Wight ended in defeat to Northwood CC. Marshfield all out for 124 (14 overs) in a rain affected T20. An improved performance in the Portsmouth sunshine saw the tourists rack up 184 in 20 overs and beat Portsmouth and Southsea CC by 40 runs, Suffan Hassan with 84. 

Tour Awards
  • Man of Tour – Ben Gardner
  • Bores of Tour – Burny/ Chop
  • Breakthrough Performance – Hamish Walker
  • Pitch & Put – Matt Watson
  • Virgin Games – Ben Gardner
  • Best Cricketer – Suffan Hassan/ Olly Glover

And so it is with an overriding feeling of relief, tinged with only a slight hint of sadness that I bring both this report and the 2017 MCC Tour to a close. I truly believe a part of my soul was left in Portsmouth that week in July. The delights/horrors of the experience will only truly be comprehended by my fellow tourists. Luckily for those members of MCC that were unable to attend, 2018 will bring with it fresh opportunity to experience this truly unique environment and I implore you to be part of it; but as for Portsmouth 2017, you wouldn’t understand, you weren’t there…

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James Williams

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