MCC completed their final overseas tour of 2019 this week, as a thirteen-man squad returned to the UK having played eight matches in Sierra Leone.
It was the first time that MCC had toured Sierra Leone since 2003 and the tour was an extremely challenging one for the Club’s squad who experienced unconventional playing conditions during the trip, and considering the circumstances, five wins from the eight matches played represented an impressive return.
MCC opened their playing schedule with a four-wicket win over the Sierra Leone Under-19s team, before defeating the country’s national side by five runs a T10 – one of the first scheduled matches in such a format in the Club’s history.
The two subsequent fixtures were both scheduled to be 50 overs per side, however the matches were reduced to 35 overs as a result of the relatively extreme nature of the tour – with heat-related illnesses commonplace due to the humidity in the country.
MCC battled to triumph in both matches though – defeating Sierra Leone’s Under-19s by seven wickets, and the ‘A’ side by two wickets. The second win saw MCC fight back from being deep in trouble at 28 for 5, before recovering to overhaul the hosts’ total of 152 for 8 – an unbeaten 44 from Sam Arthurton leading the way.
After victory over Sierra Leone’s full side in a T20, MCC ended their tour with three defeats – however, as is consistent with all of the Club’s overseas tours, the cricket is of paramount importance, but so too the impact that the squad can have on the country in question.
Even with the hectic schedule of matches during the tour, the squad visited the Mokonde Grounds in Njala to assist the Cricket Association in fostering links with the University based there and also the future development of a cricket ground.
Tour Manager for the trip was Jamie Clifford, MCC Assistant Secretary (Membership & Operations) who said: “It was an incredible experience to tour Sierra Leone and I cannot thank the Sierra Leone Cricket Association enough for the warmth of welcome we received.
"The cricket played was very competitive and there are some talented cricketers in Sierra Leone. It did take some time to adapt to different conditions, but this is one of the joys of touring.
"I hope that we will have played a small part in helping develop the already well established love for the game. Certainly, all who took part in the tour will never forget the experience.”
As well as Sierra Leone, MCC toured Costa Rica and Mexico in 2019, and Nepal with the MCC Foundation.