It is with some measure of pride that I can safely say that the first ‘official’ RCC tour was a stirring success. All the photos of the tour will soon be posted on the Tours page. Until then I gladly submit my report.
Upon arrival, the Hon. Treasurer and myself had a quick nets session in the hotel and then proceeded to St. Peter’s to take advantage of the remaining light.
While the Hon. T. bowled his medium pace, I was forced on to the backfoot on more than one occasion. I did however manage a few nifty cover drives which worried both the pigeons and the local constabulary.
The foppishly turned out Carabiniari minced over and made it known that this was not on and we were to cease.
Immune to our protestations that, as we were in the Vatican not Italy, his powers were null; he shewed us on with some heroic wrist-flapping.
Inside the Basilica we were shriven of our sins, supped at the Lord’s banquet and were indulged in a plenary fashion.
Filled with the graces of Holy Mother Church and a fine supper, found ourselves on the steps of the Pantheon at about eleven in the evening.
This former pagan satanarium, now a rather barren and oddly shaped Church, suffered much from the ravages of Napoleon. Its large porch is supported by, if I am not mistaken, Corinthian pillars.
The central two of these so happen to be the correct distance apart as to frame a wicket.
A few tentative balls were sent down, and when the Hon. Treasurer snicked an horrid thick edge behind, I could do nothing to contain a shriek of “Howzat???”.
The effects were remarkable. While the odd Roman nose pointed our way in curiosity, the narrow lanes leading into the square were soon echoing with the patter of rushing feet.
Within moments we were in the midst of a growing crowd of Bangladeshi street vendors, Sri Lankan waiters and antipodean tourists. A cardboard box was found to serve as stumps and in the end, I exaggerate not, we had a full XXII for a match.
As I took up position in the covers I saw, to my delight, that in addition to batters, a keeper and bowlers aplenty, we had; three slips, covers, deep mid-wicket, a gully, a sweeper, longs on and off and a backward point.
The statly Church Warden and an Australian lady served as umpires, a loudhailer was produced and play commenced.
As stumps flew and balls were hoiked over the fountain and into the dining crowds, the Italians looked on in wonder.
They clapped and cheered, asked questions, and even the disturbed diners were much amused.
After fully an hour’s play the police turned up again. More finger wagging ensued and we were ordered to disperse.
I was left with the thoroughly unpleasant impression that, rather than the cricket, they were really upset by the sight of the Bangladeshis enjoying themselves.
Our later calls at the Venerable English College told us that little of Father Tim’s team remained other than a wicket in the mountain villa owned by the College. We did however get a fruitful history lesson. The College motto (Ignem Veni Mettere In Terram) was predated by an earlier motto no longer used; Pro Petrus et Patria.
This is going to be put to the membership as a possible club motto.
While the club returns undefeated, I think it would be fair to say that the only real winner was cricket.