Cricket: Young Afghan refugee team relish their Nunholm experience

18 08 2010

On Tuesday, Dumfries Cricket Club hosted a team from the Refugee Cricket Project (RCP) in London. The team, aged from 15 to 18, was composed predominantly of Afghan refugees and is supported by the cricket charity, Cricket for Change (www.cricketforchange.org.uk).

Tom McBride missed out on a century scoring 97 not out

They were on what was a special trip for them to Scotland to see the team that is the story of the cricket world, the fast improving Afghanistan cricket team, play Scotland at Ayr on the Monday. That was a well chosen match since Afghanistan secured a comprehensive nine wicket win by playing the type of ‘hit hard’, ‘bowl fast’ cricket that also characterised their younger RCP counterparts.

Since the team expressly wanted to spend the rest of their time playing cricket they played a young Dumfries Select on Tuesday followed by two matches (of Twenty20) the following day at Ayr and Prestwick before making their way back to London.

The RCP side fielded first and after being welcomed to Scottish cricket by two heavy downpours that reluctantly forced them from the field the weather fortunately cleared to give them a perfect day for cricket.

The RCP side then demonstrated their obvious natural talent by producing an impressive bowling display including that by their opening bowler who happens to be a member of the Surrey U17 squad. That was matched by their fielding which was led by a fine display by their keeper.

However they met the resolute McBride brothers, Robert and Tom, who initially batted steadily to provide the Dumfries XI with a solid opening partnership. They brought up the fifty partnership after 15 overs and with elder brother Robert leading the scoring also took the side past the hundred before he was out for 66 attempting to hit over the top.

Chris Bellwood looked to be opening out when he was caught in the deep and he was followed by Fraser Conn, of Galloway, who was the early victim of one that cut back. Antony Hullat, also guesting from Galloway, clipped one to short midwicket and the spirits of the RCP side were raised by wickets falling at last.

Adam Elliot batted well to provide Tom McBride with the necessary support in the closing overs and it was the latter that accelerated to the extent that he was within sight of a century when the last over started. However, despite smashing the last ball for four, he finished three runs short on 97 not out with the local side ending on 210 for 4 after the 40 overs.

The RCP innings got off to a faltering start losing three wickets for just sixteen with Niall Alexander taking two and Stephen Temlett bowling the other. However the other Surrey U17 player batting at number three got support and belied the fact that he was actually a quick bowler sidelined by injury.

He hit some off-side boundaries of real class off the back foot and was the mainstay of the innings. He was the sixth out for 62 when the score was just past a hundred. With overs running out the chance of a win was gone but a fourteen ball score of 27 from number nine demonstrated how the side liked to play as they rattled up fifty in six overs.

They finished on a creditable 150 all out with Alexander claiming four wickets, Cameron Telfer three, Andrew Forsyth one, and good spells of spin bowling delivered by Anthony Hulatt and Chris McBride.

Remarkably for some of the visitors this was only their third or fourth real game and they were a real credit to their organisers including the ebullient coach from Cricket for Change, Danny Baker. If early catches had been taken then who knows and if their coach can find a good translation of “shot selection” they will continue their fast-track learning process.

He thanked the Dumfries XI and the club for “wonderful hospitality and a great day” and the club, in turn, were very pleased to welcome such an enthusiastic bunch of cricketers who were simply “chuffed to play”.

More information on the charity and this project can be found at www.cricketforchange.org.uk and as was apparent in the early slippery conditions if, somehow, the team could muster more than three sets of spiked shoes amongst them it would undoubtedly be appreciated.

Dumfries XI beat RCP by 60 runs at Nunholm
Dumfries XI 210 for 4 (40 overs)
T McBride 97no, R McBride 66
RCP 150 all out (37 overs)
N Alexander 8 overs 4 for 31, C Telfer 6 overs 3 for 30

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