The West Coast Rollers embarked on their first ever international tour this past weekend, making the long trip to Namibia to take on Oranjemund.
Excitement levels were at an all-time high leading up to the tour, but that often leads to too high levels of expectation and the trip ends up being a dud. This one, however, was not one of those…
Cricket was the main reason we travelled up to the Diamond Town, but it turned out a secondary exercise as four days of pure awesomeness resulted in ever-lasting memories and the acquisition of some friends for life.
But let’s start at the beginning, on Thursday. This author’s memory of the day is a bit muddled thanks to the first double Red Heart Rum & Coke at 7am, but the pictures suggest we had a whale of a time.
The 6-hour bus trip was filled with laughter and lots of drinking, and our overnight stay at the Moores in Springbok was no different, with a team tennis tournament further separating the (drinking) weak from the strong.
Livers still in tact, we headed off to Namibia on Friday morning, stopping at Port Nolloth for a lengthy lunch and gaining a number of fans in the quiet coastal town.
We arrived at the border at Alexander Bay and, following a near miss for Darren MacGurk to be gained entry, we finally arrived in Oranjemund. If we still had any lingering doubt about what was in store for us, that was soon dispelled when we met Jacques Rosssouw – an amazing human being with one of the most infectious laughs ever known to man.
He and club captain Arthur Conry took us on a quick sight-seeing tour before showing us our quarters, where we readied ourselves for our first international cricket match – under lights nogal.
Any fears of us struggling in the foreign conditions were soon a thing of the past and Claude Louw (39) and Cornell Keulder (44) got us off to brilliant start, smashing the ball to all parts as they put on 70-odd for the first wicket.
A mini-collapse followed, but captain Hannes Carlson steadied the ship with an unbeaten 31 as the Rollers posted 182/8 in the 20 overs.
Oranjemund were never really given a chance as some tight bowling and sharp fielding (by some) saw them lose wickets at regular intervals, eventually being bowled out for 73 as the visitors won by 109 runs.
A lovely braai and loads of drinks followed, before a night of dancing, wrestling and swimming saw us keel over somewhere before 4am.
Some Rollers were strong enough tackle a round of golf the next morning on the beautiful Oranjemund GC, before we headed back to the cricket grounds for Round 2 against the hosts, who this time had a few National Defence Force players in their team.
The result was a much closer game, with the Rollers battling to 108/8 – Neville Cooper top scoring with 23, ably supported by Darren with 20.
OM got off to a good start and looked well in control of proceedings at 82/3. But Cornell had one over left and made it count, bowling star batsman Sean Silver for a classy 52, before adding two more wickets in the over.
Claude (2/20) and the returning Nico Rheeder (2/18) were then brought on and made sure of the victory as the visitors won by 10 runs.
Some serious fines and post-match drinks followed, with the local barlady trying her best to get the Rollers to pass out – to no avail.
At breakfast the next morning we were treated like celebs, with the restaurant manager taking fotos with us and everyone coming to say hello, before we made out way to the local gun club.
What was meant to be an hour of clay pigeon shooting turned into a day of partying, dancing, indoor cricket and darts. In fact, we did a whole lot more shooters than actual shooting on the range.
When we reluctantly made our way home, it was as an even more unified (and tired and sore) group of cricketers and friends, knowing we did our chairman and founder Dave Hillman proud, and having flown the Friendly Cricketers’ Association flag high.
We made loads of friends for life, but two people deserve special mention – the aforementioned Jacques, and his lovely wife Minnie, who made this tour possible and oh-so-memorable. Namibians are generally known as a friendly bunch of people, and these two are the absolute embodiment of that. We cannot wait to visit you guys again.
To our fellow FCA members, I urge you to visit Oranjemund and experience friendly cricket at its finest.