The Taylor Vinters tribe pads up and strides out to Italy

A truly international cricketing epic, in which a maiden bowls her first over

Recently the TV cricket team travelled to Milan over a balmy summer’s weekend. The full-strength team comprised thirteen players, boasting a cricket team captain from New Zealand, as well as an equally promising Australian and others who were playing their first ever cricket match.

Milan was warm. Far, far too warm. Wine and cheese tasting was organised for the Friday evening activity and the TV team made their way to a quintessential Italian square for Aperol, prosecco and Peroni – the ideal preparation for what we knew was going to be a very social match of cricket the following day.

Saturday dawned, and breakfast was had by some, less so by others. The TV team, captained admirably by Ben Renshaw, headed off in trepidation and excitement to the Itatel Sports Complex which boasts a cricket ground. The pitch was a lovely parched AstroTurf track, stumps were hammered into the ground and the mercury was sitting stubbornly at 36 degrees. The Milan cricket club team comprised of a lone Italian man called Giorgio and his friends from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan – social this game was not.

TV were off to a fantastic start, winning the toss and choosing to bowl. TV set to work with impeccable fortitude, with Beale snaffling a key wicket in the first over. Wickets came at a steady pace; the Milan cricket club’s batting went at a higher pace and after 30 overs they had managed to set a not inconsiderable total of 246 runs.

In amongst the avalanche of sixes Victoria Cure produced a simple moment of magic. With the runs flowing she stepped forward to bowl her first ever over in Cricket.  Facing her was a whirling dervish of a batsman, fresh to the crease and full of pomp and chat. He crouched, bat raised, ready to join his teammates in racking up runs.  Facing him Tori was serene amongst the midges; she took her few steps forward, all nerves banished in this one moment. Her arm swung like a great and ever-so-slightly-crooked trebuchet of old and the ball flew through the air to reduce the batsman’s off-stump to splinters.  The cries from the field were bettered only by his own team mates laughs from the “pavilion”. He trudged off and TV were, just for a moment, the kings of this small corner of a foreign field.

Now, it was TV’s time to bat – chasing 247 runs to win. Tom McGuire faced and repelled the early onslaught of fast bowling whilst chipping away at the total. Beale swaggered in full of antipodean cricketing confidence, and very quickly (read: 1 ball later) swaggered back out, blaming ball tampering – naturally. In the spirit of a social game he was granted a reprieve and so turned to face another ball. Humbled by his initial failure he defended strongly for the next five.  Then came a wicked ball that bounced full and duly ripped through the stumps like a scythe in the wheat fields.  For the second time in the innings the Wizard of Oz was left trudging down a cracked and potholed yellow brick road. In total, TV managed to chase down some of the runs, just not enough unfortunately and promptly lost the match.

In true TV style, the cricketing tribe would not be disheartened; they headed back to Milan for some well needed food and hydration. Sunday was spent enjoying the sights and pasta restaurants in Milan before heading home in the evening.

The TV team will be returning to the continent next year with Slovenia, Minsk and Romania slated as possible destinations for research. If cricket is not your sport (though our version appeals more than most), there are plenty of other opportunities to experience our social and sporting culture, have fun and often do a little good along the way. Find out how to be truly tribal here.

Nick Mann