The first weekend of December saw the visit of SGCC Allstars, a touring team from St Gallen in Switzerland, who played three matches whilst also enjoying the Limassol nightlife. They proved to be a good team, who provided stiff opposition to the home teams which played them.
SGCC 202-5 (20 overs) beat Epi Lions / Moufflons Combined XI 87-8 (20 overs) by 115 runs
On Friday, with some of their players travelling direct from the airport to the Happy Valley ground, the Swiss team took on a combined team in a T20. They immediately showed themselves to be a good batting team, and the number 3 Anser played an outstanding innings of 125 not out as they amassed over 200 runs.
After an unpromising start when they lost the first 4 wickets for 32, and the 4th at 64, they recovered brilliantly through an unbroken partnership of 138 between Anser and his captain Nasir (30 not out). Beig was the best bowler with 3 for 24 from his 4 overs.
Nasir continued his good work with two early wickets, and Epi/Moufflons never threatened to get near the target, despite the efforts of Muhammad (12) and Andy Mulkern (22). So the weekend started with a very easy win for SGCC to get their tour underway.
SGCC 294-9 (40 overs) beat Cyprus 265-9 (40 overs) by 29 runs
The main match of the tour was the 40-over game against the Cyprus national team on Saturday, and again there was a deluge of runs on the batsman-friendly Happy Valley pitch.
Cyprus put the Allstars in to bat and again Anser was to the fore with another marvellous innings, this time falling short of his century with 78, caught by Usman off his own bowling. There were several good supporting innings, most notably by Falak with 49 not out.
The Cyprus bowling was generally a little wayward in the face of such an onslaught, but there were three wickets for Shafaqat and two for Fahad, who also took two good catches. Muhammad was kept busy behind the stumps, with a number of good stops and three catches, one of them a brilliant one-handed reaction effort.
The Cyprus reply began badly with two early wickets, but the ship was steadied by a good partnership between Muhammad, who played the attacking role, and Andy Mulkern, who initially was content to keep an end up. At the half-way stage the score had reached 99 for 2, leaving a formidable 196 still to score in the last 20 overs.
However, the Cyprus batsmen made a real fight of it, taking the attack to the bowlers and getting into a potentially match-winning position. Muhammad departed for a fine 78, but Andy upped the tempo and received good support from Usman (30), Fahad (20) and Shafaqat (14).
After 35 overs the score had reached 249 for 6, leaving just 46 from 5 overs for victory, with Andy and Shafaqat going well. However, the light was deteriorating fast, making batting and fielding difficult. The teams decided to stay out on the field to complete the match, but the conditions made it virtually impossible to score the runs, Andy fell for an excellent 57, and the innings concluded at 265 for 9.
A disappointing end to an entertaining match in which batsmen were for the most part well on top.
Mustangs 260-8 (25 overs) beat SGCC 171 by 89 runs
On Sunday the final tour game was against the Cyprus 40-over champions Mustangs. Three of the Swiss players had returned home (including master batsman Anser) so three local players made up the numbers for them. Due to the effects of the social side of touring, the match started late and was reduced to 25 overs per side.
For the first time the Swiss had to field first after Happy won the toss, and this time they were the ones subjected to a battering as Mustangs showed their pedigree by running up a massive total of 260.
The first ball of the match was crucial – Nasir found the edge of Rupinder’s bat and the ball flew to slip, where it was dropped. Thereafter Rupinder batted in imperious style to score 121, including 9 sixes and 13 fours. He found good support from Afridi (15), Bimal (19) and Fahad (36) as Mustangs scored throughout at more than 10 per over.
For the tourists Afzaal had a crazy day in the field. He took a hat-trick in his first over, was hit for 24 in his second, and another 23 – plus a wicket – in his third. His figures of 3-0-48-4 must be the oddest of his career! He also took two catches, dropped one and got injured trying to save a boundary.
The SGCC batsmen came out throwing their bats at everything, as they had to if they were to chase down such a total. Runs came, but also wickets fell regularly. Shahnawaz topscored with a powerful 47, and others contributed, but it was never going to be enough.
Dogar bowled well for his three wickets, Afridi took two, with one each for Bebek and Fahad, who also ran out the Swiss captain Nasir with a direct hit from the boundary. The final wicket fell, fittingly, to Rupinder, who was undoubtedly the star man in an emphatic win for Mustangs.
The tourists went home having enjoyed their tour and played some very good cricket, while Mustangs emphasised again what a good team they are.