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MCC in Cyprus: Treading the thin green line

MCC in Cyprus: Treading the thin green line

Following Tuesday's comprehensive defeat of the Cyprus National XI it was clear that some of the squad were suffering from stiffness, soreness and, in some cases (particularly those who were yet to contribute runs or wickets), a little mental fragility.

A day of leisure was required. Batteries needed recharging and game plans needed designing.

A small contingent used the day off to top up their Vitamin D levels and loosen stiff joints through aqua-robics in the hotel's pool.

MCC in Cyprus - schedule, fixtures and results

The majority, however, divided into two main parties, both indulging in very different activities. Party one decided to support local business, namely the Viklas Golf Club whilst Party two sought a more cultural experience.

Party one ably led by tour captain Matt Root - aka Steve Irwin - enjoyed picturesque surroundings, challenging fairways and lush greens. 

The round will, however, not be remembered for the quality of golf displayed. An act of genuine selflessness and sheer bravery in the face of horrifying danger shall live long in the memory of those present on the 8th hole.  

The afore-mentioned skipper stared a reptilian challenge in the face and took appropriate action. 

His 'fight or flight' response was triggered and all apparent risk was nullified.  Specific details of the techniques used cannot be divulged but needless to say the fairway was secured to the extent that the gaffer's four ball could roll around on the floor without risk of snake bite or harm.

Party two, led by tour manager and cultural attaché Jolyon Griffiths, enjoyed a more serious and privileged trip to Nicosia, the island's former capital.  During discussion with various high ranking officers at the game against the Armed

Forces, Jolyon inquired about how the touring squad might learn more about Cyprus, in particular the political and social struggles of recent years.

Various strings were pulled and a small group of MCC men were invited to join Colonel Angus Loudon at the United Nations Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) headquarters.

The group spent a little time in Nicosia, crossing 'the green line' with passports in hand in order to experience the Turkish Cypriot hospitality in the Republic of Northern Cyprus before heading to the UN controlled Paphos gate to rendezvous with Colonel Loudon. 

The Colonel took a great deal of time out of his very busy schedule to give the group a potted history of the island and an insight into the roles played by the UN peacekeepers in situ.

A fascinating and highly informative tour of various sights of interest within the UN protected area was organised by Colonel Loudon, highlighting several areas of conflict and giving a flavour of the tensions that existed in 1974.

The group left the base feeling very humbled by the work of the men and women of the various teams/units of the UNFICYP and far better informed of the island they have played cricket on.  

That evening the various factions reunited over a fine dinner in the old port area of Limassol. 

Stories and experiences were regaled to one another whilst enjoying Cypriot/Chinese fusion cuisine (an interesting mix that is unlikely to take off in the UK).

Following the banquet several chaps joined the tour manager for post-prandial beverages and twerking in the MCC stronghold of Serebola.  A fine end to a memorable day.

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