Alderney tour, 17-19 June, 2022

There are few phrases more certain to bring an element, a frisson, if you will, of interest to a relationship than the ‘so what happened on tour? ‘ interrogation upon re-arrival at the familial abode.

The traditional response of ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’ rarely suffices to calm the interrogator, so for the first time the full, unexpurgated, uncensored details are revealed.

There will be no hidden phrases subtly placed for the knowing to spot, but invisible to the unaware. If a 23 year old Columbian twerker dressed for summer were to join the tour party at 2am one morning, this report would tell you about her. Our correspondent will not refer to ‘vibrant tropical flavours supplementing the evenings refreshment’.

So prepare yourself, the first time, for a detailed tour report. If you are of a shy, or nervous disposition it may be worth averting ones attention, and returning to the wholehearted goodness that is Wimbledon.

Some facts are undeniable. Alderney is an unusual but mesmeric tour location, buffeted by tide and time, and nestling a mere mashie niblick from our Gallic cousins.

Our 13 intrepid tourists congregated on this isolated rock, prepared and honed for three days of physicality, and ready to defend the Rioteers honour. An honour built up over many years through honest sporting toil with the locals.

Once congregated there was the little matter of accommodating and provisioning, before time for relaxation in advance of the initial engagement

By now the sky was high, clear and blue, the sun a massive gleaming grapefruit ripening above us, and the simplest pleasures were afforded us.

An hour or two of childlike endeavour amongst the purest of sands, with the feel of a ball between the fingers and the bracing sea between the toes, prepared the spirits and heightened the senses, in advance of the 4pm arrival of the congregating islanders for our first formal engagement.

The 20:20 is not the last weekend train to depart Waterloo for Totleigh-in-the-Wold, but the challenge which faced us that glorious summer evening, and faced it we did, with verve, aplomb, and panache.

It has been said the Rioteer will celebrate a defeat with the same gusto as he celebrates a win, but on this Friday there were no comparative benchmarks for assessment, as the metronomic regularity of wickets, sixes and incident, provided an early evening tonic for the gathering crowd. Celebrations underway, the evening progressed.

Statistics, as they are, provide only the merest hint of the occasion and are available elsewhere, so we must instead rely on this correspondent’s view of these initial skirmishing’s, which can be confirmed as wholeheartedly positive from all perspectives, and beginning to generate an impressive esprit de corps.

Retiring early the team reflected positively on our initial assignation, and committed to maintain an aggressive pace over the remaining weekend.

The breakfast table on tour, is a time of reflection, of engagement, and of rehydration. Few have breakfasted fuller than the Rioteers on this morn, and whilst Alderney may lack newspapers, people and religion, it has a significant market for pork based goods and butter, so for a Rioteer emerging into an overcast morning it was the perfect location.

With all 13 Rioteers re fuelled and ready the scene was set for the weekends main event, the trophy match.

The Alderney ashes.

Stories are legend about the origin of this mythical timber, however the facts are that at a little over 7 inches of hard polished wood, it represents the ultimate ambition of each Rioteer to lay there hands on this beguiling object.

And so into the fray.

By now the season had transformed into autumn, bluster and buffet were the conditions faced by the captains aiming for success as they strode forcefully through the winds to the toss.

The Rioteers were invited to bat, and they accepted the invitation, and whilst the weather stayed dry, it was the breeze and opposition that threw everything at us.

But the Rioteers had not travelled overseas to capitulate at the first hint of stormy conditions, and rowed into calmer water of the mid innings break well positioned for a win, with good performances scattered across the team, with particular praise being heaped upon individuals who can be read about for posterity on the Alderney honours board.

However cricket is nothing without its traditions and one of these is that those who contributed little with the bat have the chance to partake of massive carbohydrate loading in order to contribute little with the ball, and the full array of carbohydrates were on offer at the tea interval to those who had, and had yet to contribute.

The Rioteers as ever out stayed their welcome at the refreshment table, but eventually moved out into the gathering storm.

Having set a defendable target, the Rioteers progressed to defending it, but as the wind blew the runs increased, and the game moved slowly towards its epic conclusion.

Whilst averages, run rates, strike rates, and ipl values can tell you so much, the story of this match was the ceaseless endeavour of a small band of team mates in horrific weather conditions battling through adversity.

If Shackleton himself had surveyed the scene, he would have scuttled his boat and stayed indoors with the remaining tea but the howling gales were nothing to a Rioteer keen to lay his hands on the 7 inches.

And run by run, wicket by wicket the game inched, head down, into the eye of the storm.

The storm when it broke, torrential, with sheets of rain, came too late to affect the outcome, by which time all participants were safely retained under the pavilion enclosure, refreshing and rehydrating.

The winners celebrations were unrestrained, and whilst outcomes will have been shared worldwide, and the highlights package is even now the subject of a vigorous bidding war, it is worthy of note that this was the 13th match between the two sides, and there has yet to be a draw.

Retiring from the pavilion, further refreshment called, and partaking of a delicious evening repast, amongst friends, the events mellowed, and allowed further reflection.

Some wine was taken, then some more, and as the storm relented the Rioteers sought shelter elsewhere, eventually retiring back to our accommodation where those with remaining energy discussed the events of the day with a nightcap refreshment which was supplemented with vibrant tropical flavours.

Again, the morning dawned, and again the Rioteers gathered at the breakfast table, a little older, a little wiser and a little poorer.

But reflective of a famous match and prepared to forgo mainland life for 4 more hours, before ascending once more to the skies and normal life.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and whilst this 1,200 word epistle bristles with details as promised, only one image exists that can match this report in its style, its size and its importance.

Winners of the Alderney Ashes, 2022

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