So the time finally came around for our Club Tour to Ho Chi Minh on a cold and wet noon Friday, meeting at the Beer Bay for the bus to take us all to the airport. All that is, except for Mike & Nitin, who missed the bus.
With the bus belting out the tune “Highway to Hell” from Chucker’s iPod and bags full of liquid refreshments, we made our way quickly to the airport, through check-in, immigration and to the bar where we were met by stragglers Adrian, Justin, Mike & Nitin. Now we were all accounted for and could relax from our work stresses and be like excited children looking forward to the weekend.
The duty-free kicked in on the plane and while there was no in-flight entertainment as such, we made our own. Not sure if the other passengers felt equally entertained …
A bus was pre-arranged and waiting for us at the other end. And it was waiting, and waiting for Nitin – and then his bag – to turn up. An hour later and most of the beer drunk from the on-board esky, we got moving again for the hotel. On arrival we made sure we knew who our room mates were and the room number; some tourists aren’t very good at knowing those “minor” details.
Over to Phatty’s for the get-together with a few of the Vietnam Cricket Club guys and before we knew it, it was our bedtime – or at least should have been.
Up early, though saved a touch by the hour difference in time, we assessed the casualties from the evening before. A few bangs and bruises with Becks earning the nickname of “Gorbachev” and one further victim of over-exuberance unable to move out of bed.
Back on the bus and on the way to the RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology). The ground was nicely prepared (I love the smell of cut grass in the morning) and looking great in the morning sun.
Adrian did a fine job of fitting the 15 players into a game for 11 and over to him for his match report:
Match report - 20/20
In the relative coolness of an early Saturday morning in Saigon, Lamma won the toss and elected to field. The rational of the Skipper's decision was to afford everyone time to wake up properly after a very boozy Friday. Unfortunately, this back fired, as three relatively simple catches went down in the first 10 overs as the Vietnamese League Representative Team ("VLR") went on the rampage, clocking up 139 in the first ten overs.
Anyone watching will attest to Lamma not bowling that badly (Richie opened up with a hostile spell of quick bowling) but encountering three top batsman who cleared the boundary rope effortlessly (due to a long outfield - hitting maximums is according to the VLR players the only tactic to employ). After a few choice words from the Skipper and Chairman at the 10 over drinks interval, Lamma turned their performance around and restricted VLR to a further 69 runs off the last 10 overs. However, being honest, were it not for the local rule of batsman retiring at 40 runs, Lamma would have been chasing over 300!
Editor’s note, we later found out that one particularly good batsman is known locally as the “Kashmir Lara” and it was alleged that the 13 million people that live in that region know of him!
Notable bowling performances were from Mark Burns (2 overs - 2 for 14) and Riggers (4 overs -1 for 35, his last two overs going for just 7 runs). In addition, the modest crowd were treated to some stunning fielding from Richie and Mikey.
Set 208 to win, it is fair to say Lamma were never in the game. By drinks, Lamma required 136 to win off just 60 balls! In the end, given the slow outfield and decent bowling attack, posting 130 for 7 was respectable (as acknowledged by VLR). Notable batting performances were put in by Becks (39), Sarge (29*) and Richie (22).
Match report - Sixes Tournament
The three team sixes tournament (featuring VLA, the Soi 7ers and Lamma) was a great way to enjoy the afternoon with the beers flowing. VLA ran out comfortable winners of the round robin tournament and I don’t think anyone playing will ever forgot the massive ‘6’ hit by one of VLA's gun batsman off Riggers (not a bad ball either!).
The one grudge match (the Soi 7ers v Lamma) was a see-saw affair that saw Lamma post 54 off 6 overs. The Soi 7ers were in deep trouble as Dave, Richie and Riggers gave Burnsey catching practice in the deep. Then came the US baseball player to the rescue, as Mikey hit 26 runs to steer the Soi 7ers to victory with 4 balls to spare to underline their superiority.
Editor’s note, it appears there were some typos throughout one of the team’s names and I am happy to report they have been spotted and corrected ;-)
With the games and presentations over it was time for the fine session to begin – come on down Justin and Nitin. The fines in the end were generously spread and to finish the day at the pitch a “boat race” was hatched between the Soi 7ers and Lamma. Somehow, that too went to the Soi 7ers.
Next stop Adam’s bar, ‘Pitches’ where we were fed, further watered and entertained in an upmarket part of the city before heading back to the hotel. Over and up to the Go Bar where things started to get very messy, one further bar and then the trendy Apocalypse Now nightclub was more than enough for the night.
Fortunately for Captain Adrian he had to head off back to HK early as work supposedly beckoned and so not endure any more of his team’s antics.
Sunday morning was “culture time” when Chucker led Monty, Richie & Dave to the famous Ben Thanh Market & War Remnants Museum (the only thing that was sobering all weekend) and a few of our own remnants had a wander around Ho Chi Minh’s attractive city. A lunch meet at the very nice Refinery and all too soon it was back on the bus to the airport.
Despite checking in together early we were spread throughout the plane, I suspect Vietnam Airlines had a plan for our flight home …
Big thanks go to Ben for liaising and making the great weekend it was, Daryl Bending of Concorde Travel for the assistance and advice he offered, Gaffa too for his local knowledge, Henry for having to deal with all the costings, and Andy S for helping raise the funds in the first place. Here’s to the next one!