This year in May the Old Amplefordian Cricket Club embarked on their first ever international cricket tour.

The destination was the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada. Following the OARFC’s successful tour of Trinidad and Tobago in 2011, Nigel Slinger (A54) invited the OACC to follow suit and tour his home island of Grenada. It must be stated how grateful the OACC are to Nigel and his wife June for everything they did to put a fantastic tour in place and without them the endeavour would certainly not have happened.

The tourists could not have asked for a better welcome than a cool rum punch in the terminal, a VIP line through passport control and an ice cold Carib to welcome them.

The cricket started well with the XI looking smart in the national stadium’s nets. With West Indies academy players and Afy Fletcher, star of the West Indies Ladies team, testing the boys out there was a degree of confidence even if slightly dampened by the thought of playing in nearly 30 degree temperatures.

The first match was at the National Stadium, a ground that saw an England test victory in 2015, against the Prime Minister’s XI. Charlie O’Kelly (C07) won the toss and chose to bat. A solid platform of 50-0 from openers Ed Willis (EW07) and Ollie Greaves (J09) sadly didn’t materialise into a big score and in the searing heat the team had to settle for 152 all out. A modest score but defendable on a pitch that made boundaries difficult. Unfortunately, the PM’s XI went for the aerial route which eventually paid dividends even after an extremely tight first 9 overs from openers Charlie Hawkesworth (H10) and James Lowe. A rapid 75 took the game away and the OAs were beaten by 7 wickets. Not the desired start but an exciting day and a great experience to play in a test ground and meet the Prime Minister. Other notable performances were Tom Madden (EW05) scoring the side’s first 6 and a quick fire 20, and 1 wicket a piece from Hawkesworth, Ollie Coysh (H11) and John Clapham (J11).

The second match was at Progress Park against Junior Murray’s XI. Junior Murray, former West Indies wicketkeeper with a test 100, fielded a young side including Afy Fletcher and other talented youngsters. On a day that was more reminiscent of Yorkshire, Charlie O’Kelly lost a vital toss and the OAs were put into bat again. With the ball popping up from a good length the boys knew that it would be tough to set a good score and when Willis got out to one that reared up to his head this seemed even tougher. However, O’Kelly and Greaves batted well and shared the highest stand of the tour with 96. Eventually they were both removed with Charlie caught on 42 and Ollie stumped for 71. Blistering knocks down the order from Hewie Dalrymple (H11)(29 off 20 balls) and Hawkesworth (20 off 13) helped the OACC to post a total of 212 for 9. To the boys dismay the pitch flattened significantly leaving the bowlers with an even harder task to defend the score. Again the openers Lowe and Hawkesworth were not going to let them have their own way and a superb spell saw them both take two wickets to leave Junior Murray’s side reeling at 14 for 4. The bowlers continued well and backed up with a run out from Willis and a jaffer from Patrick Faulkner (H11), Junior Murray’s side were struggling on 55 for 6. Sadly for the OAs it soon became clear why Murray had a test hundred as he went about scoring freely and reached his hundred off 81 balls and they secured a 4 wicket win for the Grenadians.

The final game was against Nigel Slinger’s XI at La Sagesse and the OAs fielded first. With the boys now getting a feel for the conditions they bowled and fielded superbly to bowl the batting side out for 142 in 28 overs. Wickets were shared amongst the four bowlers with Clapham and Faulkner the pick with 3 wickets each and a fantastic run out from Hawkesworth. Sadly Slinger’s bowlers bowled extremely tightly and an easy looking run chase looked increasingly difficult. Dalrymple top scored with 30 and with him and Basil Fitzherbert (EW16) at the crease it looked as though the OAs would get there. Sadly wickets were lost too quickly and despite Hawkesworth hitting 16 off 11 the OAs were left with a 6 required off the last ball. This was a step too far and the boys had to settle for a 4 run loss.

Unfortunately a winless tour for the OACC but a fantastic tour nonetheless and we were grateful for all the supporters who made it such a fantastic trip. We are indebted to our sponsors Radisson, Carib Brewery, Bushbells clothing and Howdens who all helped in many aspects. Also we must thank the Grenadian Ministry for Sport for all their help and the Prime Minister for taking time out of his busy schedule to play us. However, a final and heartfelt thank you must go to Nigel and June Slinger without whom none of this would be possible. They helped us to have the trip of a lifetime and one that the tourists will never forget. Nigel hopes to use the tour to strengthen ties with Grenada and the College. Discussions have already begun on the next tour.