Here you go, the one you have been waiting for! The first part of the Nanjing 6’s lumberjack.
This just covers day 1 for the Camel bashers, day 2 is being made up by Swahilli because no of us have any idea what happened apart from something to do with a glitter ball (not to be confused with Gary glitters balls)
The Camel Bashers squad assembled outside Shanghai Railway Station to catch the 06.12 train to Nanjing. Special mention to Captain Latex, who had spent the night trying to stop the Xiamin boys from tearing our sponsor apart, while also weakening our rivals by getting their first graders smashed (clarification: first grade cricketers), safe in the knowledge that we had a player to spare and he could strategise from the pavillion for the first game.
Choosing such an early train, which stopped at every industrial wasteland along the way, was rumoured to be for the convenience of one unnamed player who had other obligations for the day. The journey was uneventful other than Filthy absconding to attend a wedding (dressed in Bashers blazer and tie), some geriatrophillic behaviour from Sinbad and Latex, and the first signs of Long Dong’s narcolepsy.
Escorted into the ground over two hours before our first game, we took in the rural splendour of the playing facilities â€“ long grass and bamboo growing in the outfield, lethal metal flags as boundary markers, and a concrete structure that looked like a serial killer’s lair at deep square. Soon Swahili joined us to complete our squad, having travelled on Friday to be fresh for cricket, and having fertilised some of the gardens around the oval with regurgitated Jaegermeister.
The two trophies were on display in the pavillion and the Connery Shield looked great, but it was clear that both Bashers squads immediately took a shine to the Glitterball Plate, and set about ensuring we would bring some disco ambience to the Members’ End.
We batted first in our opening match and compiled a score in the mid 50s. Top scorer was Swahili, Omega also chipped in, Bugs came and went for a duck (his form improved remarkably once Babs arrived), and a few others chipped in a run or two. The Korean did not bat.
The total could have been enough had there not been a travesty of justice in the first over bowled by Omega when a thick edge was held at the wicket by Korean. Our appeals fell on deaf ears and, despite great bowling by Birdshit and some good work in the field by Swahili, who threw himself around the boundary and took a catch when blinded by the sun, we dropped too many and they reached the target in the last over.
In game two we bowled first, and the highlight of the innings was Made In taking his first wicket of the tournament when the batsman didn’t read the second bounce and spooned it up to square leg. The rest of the bowlers did a good job and we restricted them to a score of around 50.
Apparently there are some nuptials over in Pommyland which some people are getting excited about, and that may explain the ridiculous number of royal ducks recorded during the weekend. Omega decided to show his allegiance to the crown to begin our innings, leaving Swahili to hold up one end while wides and other batters chipped away at the score. Made In came in and hit his first ball of the season for six, then got out next ball, so it was left to Latex and Birdshit to polish off the rest of the runs, which they did with ease. The Korean did not play in this game.
One and one, so a victory would send us to the shield round, while defeat would mean we had a chance at the Mirrorball. We batted first and, with Swahili batting down the order after gorging himself on CJ’s magical vegan cake, Omega and Bugs opened and lasted till almost the end, setting a good target in the mid 60s with their contrasting but complimentary styles. Korean did not bat.
We took the field full of optimism and Latex brought himself on to open the bowling, hoping to unsettle the openers with his rarely seen chinaman deliveries. This tactic didn’t pay dividends and after one over they had almost a third of the runs without having laid bat on ball too often. Latex did redeem himself somewhat with a well taken outfield catch, but we weren’t able to restrict them and ended up headed for the plate round, with only the never-victorious Bogan’s Heroes standing between us and a possible final against the Just Beer Bashers.
We cabbed in to Nanjing’s most expensive hotel, a convenient hour’s walk from Jimmy’s bar, happy enough to be in the lap of luxury. Well, some of us were happy. Birdshit immediately started to build goodwill for the team by demanding a free bottle of Champagne because the check-in process was taking too long. “Okay” said the uncomprehending and cowering check-in worker, seemingly thinking that agreeing to any demand would at least placate the bibulously belligerent laowai.
“Okay?” replied Birdshit, briefly thrown by having his unreasonable demand agreed to. “Make that three bottles of Champagne! By the pool!” There was no Champagne by the pool.
A few altercations with the hotel staff later, and a delay due to Made In and Long Dong discovering that showering together doesn’t always save time, we were on our way to Jimmy’s for the fine session, Macau for a great dinner, and then back to Jimmy’s for more drinks. Come midnight, our numbers had dwindled to Sinbad and, perhaps because the rural setting inspired memories of woolshed parties in Aotearoa, the full contingent of five Kiwis, including Filthy who had rejoined the tour before dinner.
After witnessing a victory by the Chiefs, next stop was Castle bar, a high-class club across from our hotel. After the rest of the group had drifted across the road, there are reports of Filthy and Sinbad almost restarting hostilities in the Kashmir, but I can confirm that they arrived back at the hotel unscathed at 6, which meant Sinbad’s attempt at the record for longest non-coke-assisted bender ended at 45 hours. It also meant that Filthy, who had decided to forego the expense of the 5 star hotel, did not make it home to his wife. Perhaps he was upset at the revelations about Sneaky’s relationship with one of the original Bashers, or he was making up for the fact that he had missed the day’s fun, or was acting out because nobody bid on him in the player auction. Possibly, as he claimed, he was looking after Sinbad. Or maybe he felt like spending the 8RMB he had skimmed off each return ticket and sensed a chance of a free buffet breakfast. In any case, 24 hours after leaving Shanghai, all Bashers were safely ensconced in Birdshit’s all-time favourite hotel, and ready for day two of the tour.
More to follow when Swahilli can be bothered.