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Tour to Bulgaria May 18-21

 Tour to Bulgaria May 18-21 

Bulgaria Cricket on Facebook 

Nomads  travelled to Bulgaria in May to play against two clubs Gostilitsa and  Kobaunte Blacksmiths.

TOUR PARTY: Mark Surridge; Aftab Kayani; Keith Juriansz; Ijaz Hussain; Peter de Boeck; Sajeev Asok; Charles Fellows Smith; Vince Gavin; Ramesh Satheesan; Helen Cooper.

SUMMARY Played 2 Won 2

Match 1 25/25 overs Nomads CC 204-3,25 overs(Ijaz Hussain 50rt, Ramesh Satheesan 44, Juriansz 34rt,Gavin24*) beat Gostilitsa CC 49,17 overs(Ramesh Satheesan 4-6,Surridge 3-6) by 155 runs

Match 2 25/25 overs Nomads CC 165-2,25 overs(Sajeev Asok 50rt, Ramesh Satheesan 42*) beat Kobaunte Blacksmiths CC 107,18.1 overs(Aftab Kayani 36,Fellows-Smith 3-20,Sajeev Asok 2-10) by 58 runs

 All the players and Umpire at Gotstilitsa

A new, unusual and quite different overseas tour for the Nomads, an exceptionally enjoyable one, for players and supporters of the three teams involved. Sadly our contact in Bulgaria – Derek Stocker was unable to attend any of the games or social events due to ill health, the Nomads wish him a speedy recovery, and thank him profusely for his efforts in helping to make this tour such a success.

Regular Nomads were assisted by an Asian contingent based in Bucharest, 2 from India & 2 from Pakistan: Ramesh, Sajeev, Aftab & Ijaz, and very welcome they were, on and off the field.

On Friday evening those Nomads already in place were invited by the Gostilitsa CC stand-in captain – Andy Searle to his apartment in VT’s old quarter. Specially prepared local delicacies, beer and Rakia were enjoyed before Andy & Mark S repaired to a nearby hotspot for further drinks and scenery spotting.

Our first game on Saturday was at Gostilitsa, against a team of mainly older British expats. We offered Andy Searle an exchange of players to even things out, however the offer was declined, and we were invited to bat. Keith Juriansz, Ijaz & Ramesh swiftly put on 130 runs against friendly bowling, and after the drinks break Mark Surridge & Vince Gavin added another 50 runs, and with the assistance of Mandy & Steve, Nomads finished their 25 over innings with a decent total of 204 for 5.

During the interlude we were supplied with a pasta, sandwich & cake lunch which went down very well. Along came the Bulgarian state TV news station mobile crew who filmed the proceedings, with the Nomads apparently featuring on the main evening BTV news. Several million viewers were told this was an example of what British people do to celebrate a Royal Wedding; i.e. send a cricket team to a mountainous region of Bulgaria…

Gostilitsa CC’s innings was quite short, with both Mark & Ramesh taking 3 wickets, they were bowled out for under 50 runs, and further refreshment was on everyone’s radar. The bar in the village was a complete throwback to the Soviet Union era, a monolithic concrete block in the village centre, though a statue of Stalin in the square no longer exists. Players and supporters from both sides sat outside in the late afternoon sun enjoying some banter and the local ale. One of the opposition was a hairdresser, and kindly trimmed Peter de Broek’s eyebrows, nasal and ear hair, to the amusement of all present. Always good to trim an umpire. Especially a Belgian one.

Sunday’s game took us to Armenite, near the city of Gabrovo, playing against a Bulgarian side, Kobaunte CC (AKA ‘The Blacksmiths’). This club has been started from scratch over the past couple of years, they have bought a field from a local farmer, which though a little rough in patches and so challenging in terms of fielding, is being transformed into a cricket ground. Surrounded by a huge escarpment on one side, and lush forest all around the field, with a little luck (and some funding) this may become in years to come one the prettiest, most scenic grounds in Eastern Europe.

The club founder & skipper Ivailo Katarsky received training from the Bulgaria Cricket Foundation in Sofia, and has now gathered together a dozen or so like-minded friends, neighbours and colleagues who are clearly becoming fanatical about cricket, complete with team uniform, collective bats, pads, caps, gloves and so on. The Nomads exchanged two of our players from Bucharest, Aftab and Ijaz, who were a great help to the local team with bat and ball.

Nomads were again invited to bat, Sajeev and Ramesh scoring 50 & 42 respectively, the total of 165 for 2 in 25 overs assisted by an energetic cameo of 15 not out from Charles Fellows Smith. All in singles…, as many of us are used to. Kobaunte were incredibly keen and athletic in the field, restricting many boundary shots to mere singles, with 7 of their team having a bowl, including youngsters.

 For lunch our Bulgarian hosts provided a sumptuous feast of barbecued local meat, Banitsa (see photo) together with a generous amount of salad & cold drinks. Kobaunte/Blacksmiths started their innings quite slowly, losing wickets on a regular basis, despite 36 from Aftab and a resolute knock of 26 from their last batsman – man of the match Tsonyo. Excellent bowling figures of 3 for 24 from Surridge and 3 for 20 from Fellows Smith restricted Kobaunte’s reply to 107 all out, aided by 5 catches and a good standard of ground fielding by the Nomads, helped ably by our two loanees, Kolav & Dimitrov.

The figures involved really don’t do justice to the enthusiasm, application and all round team spirit of the Bulgarian team, seldom have we faced such a keen team of beginners, who seemed to grin throughout the day, they were very happy to play with and against the Nomads, and don’t often get the chance to play against a ‘proper’ team.

After the game all present stayed on, a dozen new Nomad shirts were presented to Kobaunte CC, with Keith kindly awarding man of the match Tsonyo a pair of designer sports sunglasses. We didn’t see Tsonyo’s eyes for the rest of the day.

Charles FS was so enamoured by his batting and bowling performance that he threatened to get a round in, then realising that the beer was ‘free’, reverted to type.

Some 30 of us mingled at the makeshift outdoor pavilion, enjoying an endless supply of cold beer and food, swapping stories about life in our respective countries. As well as being advised that most of the Bulgarian team’s friends think they’re completely bonkers, for playing a game that nobody hereabouts understands, let alone being aware of what is going on in the field. We told Ivailo and his cricket mad buddies not to worry, we’re Nomads and experience those sentiments quite often…

It was the most social of occasions, and we’re very grateful to our hosts for making a game of cricket in the Bulgarian mountains such a superb day out for everyone involved.

In terms of tour logistics stuff everything worked as it should, flights to and from, car hire, lifts to remote locations, contact with both opposition skippers  and so on. The Nomads were based in Veliko Tarnovo, the ancient capital of Bulgaria, enjoying a tour of the medieval castle, as well as nightcaps at an outdoor bar situated at the VT Art Gallery, overlooking the River Yantra & Veliko Tarnovo’s old town.

On our final night in VT’s ancient quarter, glasses were raised by the Nomads still in town to another very enjoyable foreign jolly, and the promise that we should badger our President and continue to explore similar, unusual cricket tours abroad.  Why not? We  are the Nomads CC!