The 15-man MCC tour party met at wintry Lord’s on Friday evening.
Following the collection of the new kit (always the most exciting thing for any tourist), a team photo in the Writing Room and a few parting words from Club President Mike Gatting, we were ready for our long haul flight to Malaysia under the careful guidance of Tour manager Bob Baxter.
The boys were in great spirit as we landed
The boys were in great spirit as we landed for our collection and meet with fellow tourists Ed Kilbee and Andrew Clarke, who had flown in from playing grade cricket in Perth.
Our first night saw the traditional team meal where all the tourists started to share their stories and experiences of our great Club, aided by the infamous tour fines - where a debutant tourist was heavily reprimanded for rushing out to buy pads as he had not bought any with him.
After a training session, and watching Malaysia beat Singapore in the first match of the tournament, the following day it was our turn to take on Malaysia.
Opening with a win
Having lost the toss we were asked to bowl first and three wickets each for Jack Porter and George Harper gave us a great start.
While Malaysia consolidated, regular wickets from spinners Andrew Clarke, Luke Jarvis and Reinhardt Strydom meant we were able to bowl them out for 174 with 7 overs remaining.
With an unpleasant 40 minutes to bat before the lunch break, MCC lost early wickets from some hostile new ball bowling, with saw the Club fall to 27/3 at the break. Kilbee continued to strike the ball well before being dismissed for 21.
With wickets continuing to fall, Gareth James and Clarke managed to build a partnership as the host soared to over 40 degrees. The two took the score to 102/6 before James was dismissed for 35.
MCC Young Cricketer Clarke was simply outstanding, keeping composed in some extremely testing conditions.
With excellent support from Porter (18) and a crucial five not out from Harper, the left handed Clarke struck the ball to all parts in a match-winning 70 not out, as MCC claimed a two wicket victory.
A Singapore lesson
The next morning saw another scorching day, but the boys were fresh-faced and raring to go for MCC’s second match against Singapore.
Batting first in a considerably cooler 34 degrees, MCC suffered a challenging first hour, losing tour debutant Angus Stewart, Chilton, and Edward Ballard cheaply, but Kilbee was looking in fine form.
As the temperature continued to climb, Kilbee and former Hampshire cricketer Jonno McLean showed their resilience and class. After Kilbee fell for 39, McLean marched on, building a partnership with Strydom, who struck the ball well in the middle overs.
McLean’s innings was outstanding, as he hit a vital 83 off 89 balls, but some fine death bowling from Singapore meant we finished with a modest 223 after being bowled out in the final over.
As we took the field, the team felt the heat straight away, as the thermometer reached over 40 degrees.
Singapore's opening batsmen took full advantage, pouncing on the Club’s bowling, not allowing anyone to settle.
Captain Mark Chilton showed his vast experience of captaining one day cricket, bringing spin into the attack early, but it took the Club 17 overs before making the first breakthrough.
While we rallied after a a well deserved drinks break following the wicket, the batting side continued on, and with storm clouds looming the Club simply could not stop the flow of runs.
With just six more runs needed for victory, and seven wickets remaining, the storm eventually came, with Singapore winning comfortably on the Duckworth/Lewis method.
Two back-to-back fixtures in exhausting conditions have taken their toll on the boys, and everyone is looking forward to a chance to reflect and reenergise, ready for a must win game on Friday against Malaysia.