Since Mr Bullet Bond, licensed to thrill, is deep undercover, and the season is fast drawing to an end, here are the general (or hazy) events of the Xiamen Tour 2015…
Shit Shoes, Cassius, Skid Row, Pope, Bullet Bond = B.B. for this lumberjack, Rash, and last minute tourist Cranky, all arrived through security at HQ airport early for their 6.05pm flight, so had a few cold brews near gate 50. Our flight would be delayed for a half hour, so Rash organized another round of beers (the best you can get for 7rmb). Everything was going to plan, until B.B. realized he was on a different flight actually leaving on time, so he sprinted off beer in hand to barely make his flight (and not spill a drop of his beer either). The rest of us had a long wait before the “mechanical issues” were finally sorted out an hour and a half later. Rash helped pass the time sharing his local spirit, reputed to be “sort of like a bad sherry”.
Arriving in Xiamen we found B.B. waiting for us at arrivals, but no taxis. Rash uber-ed us a car and we rocked up to the Marco Polo listening to Cassius’ playlist. The check-in process was swift and painless, although we had to cancel the “special requests” that Tinder had put on our bookings: no pillows, 5 extra rolls of T.P. and a 5am wake-up call. Thanks Tinder! Cranky, an old hand at touring Xiamen led to the way to find the early arrivals: Parrot, Tinder, Pussy and Square Root, who we found some time later accompanied by some friendly locals at a nightclub. There was some fairly rank whiskey on offer, and Cranky was not happy, so we headed back to the Londoner.
Saturday Morning & Pool Matches
The Bashers seemed to be assembled on time, even well-breakfasted, but as Shit Shoes handed out the trucker caps, he noticed there was one extra. Tinder was M.I.A., and it took 2 calls from reception, plus a visit from Rash to drag him down to the now long gone bus. So it was a lengthy taxi ride to the ground for a late arrival. Truffles was the first to arrive to the ground, and although it was warm and humid, some other teams were practicing (well, just Suzhou and Sanya). The pitch was very much like the rest of the field, but someone had been out with the white paint.
The Camel Bashers and Kooka Bashers went unbeaten through pool play. Pope and Pussy basically batted all the overs for the Camel Bashers (no retirements in this tournament), leaving Shit Shoes all padded up “with no one to blow”. The bowling and fielding was solid, especially Pope and Tinder on the deep boundaries to the leg side. The only exception was the cookie induced meltdown from Shit Shoes as one over went for nearly 30, causing a brief scare in the game against Sanya, but as the umpire said they needed 14 off the last ball, why not bowl a pie for 6?
The Kooka Bashers were more diplomatic with the batting: while a helmet clad Cassius blasted runs from one end, the wickets kept falling at the other end, so everyone got plenty of chances to bat. Mouse though clearly preferred a cold glass of Pimms and a few of the Nanjing cookies to nibble on instead. Rash also was particularly keen to sit out matches and partake of some refreshments. Apart from Cassius, the standout was B.B., who was everywhere, running people out, taking wickets, and picking up runs. Also notable was Square Root, who disgruntled over not getting to bat, proceeded to take out his frustration with a series of hostile bouncers against the girl playing for Team Suzhou.
Saturday Afternoon & Play-offs
The schedule had the Bashers playing the first four games of the tournament, so there was a lengthy lunch break. Pussy took advantage of this free time to consume most of the Nanjing cookies and achieve an incredibly peaceful state. The rest of the Bashers got some BBQ and a jug of Pimms, and discussed strategies for their semifinal matches.
The Kooka Bashers were up first, and bowled first against Xiamen in their semifinal. Xiamen never got going, and were bowled out for a lowly 30-odd. Good bowling from Xiamen, semifinal pressure, and a few brain explosion wickets meant that soon only Cassius and B.B. were at the crease. The game was in the balance with a handful of runs left off a couple of deliveries remaining, so Cassius told B.B. to “just get a single”. Incredibly though the very next ball B.B. calmly shuffled across and flicked the bowler over deep square leg for an A.B. de Villiers style 6 to book the Kooka Bashers final spot.
The Camel Bashers were up against Suzhou, the defending champions and our old nemesis from the Nanjing Rural Sixes. Pussy got out early, as he was starting to get deep into the cookie time, and that left Pope and Parrot to get the score moving. However, it was only a middling total at the end, and things were looking uncertain. Skid Row opened up, and immediately the ball was struck to deep square leg, where Pope popped the ball up with a leap in the air and completed the catch as it gently came down. It was a phenomenal catch. Runs were flowing though, and Shit Shoes bowled an average over that left the Suzhou in with a good chance to win. Parrot then stepped up, and with 2 run-outs early in his over, the game was changed, and the Camel Bashers were through to an all Bashers final!
The Basher on Basher Final
There was a lengthy discussion to get all 7 Kooka Bashers on the field, so Katie, a.k.a. Hammer, was roped into the Camel Bashers side. There was an even lengthier discussion about the punishment for Cassius’ non-partaking of any drinks during the whole day. Eventually he was let off lightly with a finish-your-vessel fine, and soon Skid Row had won or lost the toss and the Kooka Bashers were batting first. Shit Shoes opened up with a beauty that had Cassius chip to Hammer at cover, but the ball went to ground. Overthrows, overthrows again, and the Kooka Bashers were all over the final. Pussy came on to bowl, and in a freak event, bowled the perfect delivery to remove Cassius. The chirp of “that’s what happens when you drink and play cricket” caused instant entertainment on the boundary. Parrot chipped in with another good over, and picked up a wicket off his last ball. Pope then struck twice to be on a hat-trick, and all of a sudden things were going wrong for the Kooka Bashers. Rash hit a four, but when he was given LBW off the final ball of Pope’s over, the damage was done. The Kooka Bashers only scraping together 39 all out.
The Camel Bashers started with Pussy getting bowled off the first ball of the innings, but Tinder came out firing and slapped Cranky all around the field, including a big 6 over long-on. “Don’t you worry about that, pal.” Cranky eventually bowled him, but Parrot and Pope continued to score runs freely off B.B. Pope was finally out with just 7 runs remaining, and Parrot then dispatched Cassius for a brace of 4s to fine leg to win the Xiamen 666s for the Camel Bashers.
The bus ride back to the hotel was entertaining, as Tinder grabbed the microphone and described the trees on the side of the road, and the Nanjing boys started to sing “Cassius needs a haircut”. At the end of the journey Tinder sat down in the bus driver’s seat honking the horn until dragged from the bus by the irate driver. His last effort of the night was to yell to reception girls that Truffles, checking in at the time, was “the m***** f***** I was telling you about. He’s a c***.” Tinder then faded into the hotel, stumbling against sofas, columns and walls on his way. The rest of us costumed up and headed back to the bus, where we waited… and waited… and eventually got taken to the Dubliner. Suzhou came as a troupe of ballerinas, in shocking pink attire, but I suppose given their performances on the field, it wasn’t all that surprising. It was around this time that Dimitri, the Russian pimp, arrived to entertain the Bashers. Pope arrived with a cape and a wig, and perhaps it was the shock of all that hair, but all the same it was appalling attire, and nearly cost him the Player of the Tournament. There were rumours that B.B. should be scratched on there instead. The Dubliner led back to the hotel, which led back to the Londoner (interesting pub names in Xiamen) and apparently the All Blacks win over the Wallabies in the RWC final.
A handful of Bashers: Tinder, Truffles, Pussy, Square Root and Shit Shoes made it to breakfast before 10.30am, which was an effort. However, eventually, all the Bashers tourists ended the tour sitting around the pool drinking all the beer from the fridge at the nearest convenience store. The fines session was conducted by Truffles, who seated majestically on his reclining chair, conducted the proceedings fairly and generously took fines for Cassius, who had to “work soon”. Of course, B.B. ended up in the pool after his quality cricketing performance, once again staying at 150%. Then Cranky, Shit Shoes and Cassius took the mid-afternoon flight, and the rest of the tourists left around 5pm, so all arrived back to a cold and wintry Shanghai evening. We did have the Xiamen 666s trophy, and some hazy memories of the weekend’s cricket, and they really are the best sort of memories.
See you next year Xiamen!