To all cricketers reading this blog. Have you ever played under floodlights, under a velvet black African sky, in the warmth and humidity of a tropical night on a pitch so polished it reflects the moon and the stars? No? Well sign up with CWB and this could be one of many firsts you experience. Have you ever played in a team alongside the National head coaches of both Football and Cricket? No? Well there’s another CWB first. As you know the team this year is small and select so to field a team against the local Pioneers required some careful selection (persuasion) which led to Botswana National Soccer Coach and ex-Premier League Footballer Peter Butler and Botswana National Cricket Coach and ex Kenya World Cup representative Joseph Angara donning the coveted CWB colours. The select 12 was then made up by local coach Elvis (who needed no reminding it was Now or Never), local Women’s cricket phenomenon Shamillah Lara Mosweu (the clue is in the name), young Botswana national Squad member Dimpo (playing despite a donkey related knee injury) and local legend and all round good egg ‘Ricie’ (we think he has a real name but no-one’s managed to translate the Scouse accent).
In time honoured tradition the CWB Captain lost the toss and promptly elected to field first, a decision fully vindicated by Elvis striking in the first over, Mark taking a low catch behind the wicket after being driven back five yards after being hit on the chest by a suspiciously quick delivery the ball before. The remainder of the innings progressed in a mixture of big hitting, regular wickets and (from the CWB perspective) slightly too many 25 runs-scored retirements. Particular highlights were Shamillah winning the Mosweu family contest, persuading her brother to hit a ball straight into Elvis’ Blue Suede hands on the boundary; Liam conjuring up more leg spinning variations than Shane Warne to bowl two opposition batsmen; Ricie acting like a ball -magnet and throwing himself around the field like someone half (correction, a quarter) his age; Rachel making full use of the roll on, roll off fielding arrangements to bookend a couple of economical bowling spells with a sustaining G and T, before coming off the bench to clean bowl the Pioneers top scorer and Greg delivering a master class in fielding whilst capturing the action on the go-pro video. Sadly Joseph could not persuade any of the Pioneers batsmen to add their names to his list of victims alongside Tendulkar, Gayle and DeSilva, primarily as no one could lay bat on ball. Had we all bowled at his economy rate CWB would be left to chase 80, rather than the slightly more challenging 167, for victory.
The run chase got off to tricky start with CWB legend Greg getting the one unplayable ball of the night, a feat which thankfully for everyone else the bowler was unable to repeat. Unworried by this Ross and Mark started the scoreboard ticking over at or about the required run rate, with the project leader and captain finding the boundary on a number of occasions before reaching the compulsory retirement score in the seventh over – although the effort involved appeared to leave him wondering if there ought to be a compulsory retirement age for cricketers. Shortly after family fortunes were reversed as Shamillah was bowled by her little brother whilst trying to hit the ball to Francistown! Elvis, Dimpo and Liam all added to the total by batting for a good time not a long time, leaving CWB up with the run rate but running short of wickets. This was the time for cool heads and fortunately the CWB captain, showing he was no novice in the managerial and tactical game either, had paired together Joseph and Peter for just such an eventuality. His faith was rewarded with a stunning fifty run partnership, which left CWB needing ten off the last over. The footballing pro was able to find two runs off the first three deliveries, before being shown the red card by an express delivery knocking the middle stump out of the ground. Still the CWB team were unconcerned seeing Tim striding to the wicket, having heard all evening the detailed accounts of his majestic undefeated seven in this very same fixture a year ago. Sadly his lofted drive, surely headed for the boundary, couldn’t quite clear the deep mid on. An all run four of the last ball left the CWB heroes an agonising three runs short. Nonetheless, there were smiles all round as, in the true spirit of cricket (which we have been stressing to some ultra-competitive Botswanan children all week), we shook hands with the opposition. It was a game for everyone ; the players of the Pioneers could point out they beat the coaches, whilst the three managers in the CWB team could point to their top scores in the scorebook and wisely say ‘There’s no substitute for experience’. If you want a new experience, sign up today!! You won’t regret it.