By Daniel Tosca, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Carioca Cricket Club (CCC) returned to Rio on Sunday night proudly sporting the first trophy in the club’s short history, which the Webjet pilot insisted travel upfront with him on the dashboard the whole way home.
The manner of victory was a smidgeon bittersweet with the team’s third game against the hosts rained off without a ball being bowled, but a win in the opening match against São Paulo, themselves unbeaten since 2008, had already given CCC the dream start in the tournament.
Following the traditional opening night of the tour preparations, there was plenty to take the players’ minds off the grey and damp early start. Having lost the toss, captain Rob Wallace led his team onto the pitch to field in what CCC felt to be a crunch match.
Leading the attack were debutante Steve ‘Wookie’ Chew and the more experienced (in terms of the highs and lows of Brazilian cricket at least) Oliver Ballhatchet, and the two lost no time in setting about the top order.
The SP openers were given a torrid time with the Hatchet man grabbing three wickets in his first two overs as SP were reduced to 6 for 3 from 4. Somehow conjuring tricky swing with a veritable shammy leather of a ball, Chew’s first four overs for the CCC saw him finish with figures of 4 overs, one wicket for just five runs. Tight, alright.
By the end of their spell the hard work had been done and Tarun Rai, Doug Gray and Rob Wallace were left to shore things up, the latter grabbing three wickets and then catching SP captain Matt Featherstone (51) to secure the win.
Slow and steady were the watchwords as Vim ‘Vinzy’ Akula and Nick Gibson went out to capitalize on their bowlers momentum, and despite a mini wobble in the middle order, Doug Gray steered the CCC home for a crucial opening round win.
Straight in to the Brasilia game, the pace was maintained and the opening bowlers again ripped through the top order, who, with their opener going for a diamond duck, were soon at twelve for three off three overs, all clean bowled.
The wickets dried up a touch along with the weather, but the batsmen were given no room for manoeuvrings, and from 38 for three they crumbled to 56 for nine with Rob Wallacey leading by example with two stunning, back to back caught-and-bowled’s that set him up for the team’s third hat-trick ball in two matches.
Despite failing to get the final wicket with Vince Bastick proving, indeed, a bit sticky, the Brasilia total of 80 looked eminently get-able in comparison to the 190 they had posted the day before against Curitiba.
With Vinzy in imperious form at the crease the total was reached with 3 overs to spare, the opener seeing out the win with an unbeaten 46 that included four monstrous sixes with the aid of his limited edition, iron-reinforced, tree-trunk of a (regulation) bat.
Having warmed up to a pre-match fever on the Sunday morning, as the first game ended so the Curitiban heavens opened, and after an hour of waiting and curry eating, it was clear that the host captain Norman’s rain dance for a draw had worked. With the points shared, CCC nudged ahead of Brasilia to claim the trophy, wrestling it from the clutches of São Paulo, champions the last five years, now down to third.