Ljubljana 2016

Compared to cricket in Lithuania, Slovenian cricket has a long history with games being played in Ljubljana since 1974. The league was expanded in 2007 with the introduction of the Slovenian National Championships and the introduction of Maribor CC and Bela Krajina CC to compliment the teams from Ljubljana.

The Slovenian teams kindly agreed to let the CIPA ITMA CC team play in the national 20-20 tournament with fixtures against Bela Krajina CC and Skofia Loka CC.

After the arrival at another glamourous hotel (nicely sandwiched between a building site, a hospital and dual carriageway), we had the now ubiquitous stroll around the old town looking for a restaurant specializing in local delicacies. Numerous meat, fish and cheese platters, washed down with local wine, beer and spirits, were consumed and all retired in high spirits. After mistakenly being dropped off at a country club (the concept of coming to Slovenia to play cricket and not golf was too much for our taxi drivers...), we arrived at a picturesque ground with a fully laid astroturf wicket, a well cut outfield and a two well organized, proficient looking teams finishing their game.

What followed is not for the faint hearted and was certainly some of the most difficult opponents we will ever face...

Having lost the toss, we were tasked with fielding. As Chris Milton ran in to bowl, the alarm bells started ringing as the opening batsmen stepped away and asked why we were not playing professional power play rules. After some negotiations, we were allowed to set our field. The next ball missed leg stump by a whisker and was then signaled a wide. Shoulders dropped and heads hung, we knew this would be a long game. As the batsmen got their eyes in balls disappeared over hedges, over roads, over buildings and all of our fielders defying the power play rules on the boundaries. The few and far between dot balls were treated with ironic cheers, which only seemed to steel the batsman further, and the next ball inevitably disappeared for a maximum. Indeed, with only three balls left of the Skofia innings, they called for a ball inspection to query the seam condition – not that it mattered, more boundaries followed.

In this game several bowlers recorded their worst recorded figures (at least for 24 hours…) and some of the worst in CIPA ITMA history. Any economy rates at under 10 an over were celebrated with some overs reaching 20 runs. Skofia finished on 269-3, which is 6 runs more than the highest recorded professional 20-20 score. The leading Skofia batsman finishing with a Chris Gayle or Brendon McCullum like 152.

The CIPA innings does not really merit recording for posterity. Sufficient to say, we did not clear the boundary with the regularity of our opponents or, in fact, at all. We scraped to 122, which meant this was also the biggest loss in our 14-year history and a negative net run rate of -7.35.

Unfortunately, we could not redeem ourselves in the second match of the tour. Again, the very strict rules on extras and the quality of the opposition batsmen meant bowling was not easy. One unfortunate bowler delivering an over worth 30 runs. As throughout the domestic season, dropped catches were commonplace with seven being shelled to only three taken. Bela Krajina CC finished on 166-6.

The CIPA batting was as similarly slow as the previous day with the only highlight being a fifty by Wilson, unfortunately at a rather pedestrian strike rate of 104. CIPA limped to 117 all out with a dramatic collapse of the last 8 batsmen scoring just 15 runs. We returned back to the old town for some mood-improving steaks and beers to numb the pain of loss.

The matches and stats have been entered and can be found here.