After an opening day of training and getting used to the conditions in Dubai, we were all looking forward to and ready for our first game against Dubai College U16. We got off to a slow start as both openers were out early on an unfamiliar concrete wicket, before Finn O’Brien (JDN) steadied the innings and finished with a well-earned 40*, with good support from Al Russell (RDO-C) and Sam White (JRBS). However, the opposition batsmen looked comfortable throughout the innings and passed our score with overs to spare and 8 wickets in hand. There were lots of positives to take from our opening game against a superior opposition and our bowlers worked hard throughout the innings.

This good effort was rewarded with a trip to the Wild Wadi water park on the following rest day. The rides were more extreme than UK equivalents and we all really enjoyed the day. The next morning was focused more at learning about the culture of the area as we stopped off at the Sheik Zayed Mosque. We had an interesting tour of the unique building, which is the third largest mosque in the world, before focusing our minds on the upcoming afternoon game against BSAK.

Our final practice game took place at the 7* Emirates Palace Hotel. Nick Harrington (RDO-C) and Ben Barber (WFM) got us off to a good start and we were in position to push on with the score at 73-0 at the half way stage of the 30 over innings. Ben got out soon after, but our batting stayed positive, in particular the running between the wickets. However, this positive running proved to be our downfall as the innings collapsed with four run-outs. We finished on 129-8, with Nick scoring 48. The opposition got off to a flying start and never looked like getting out until the spinners came on. Milo Dundas (JRBS) made the breakthrough with the opening wicket and more followed in quick succession, with Milo taking 2 and Jack Rogers (GRP) 3. However, our small total was not quite enough as they got home with 4 wickets to spare. This was a huge improvement on our first match, with a much more energetic performance.

The first of our ARCH trophy games was a day/night match on Sunday against Leeds Grammar. They batted first and posted a competitive score of 176-5, with a strong bowling performance all round, and two wickets apiece for Will Harris (DMG) and Finn O’Brien. We got off to a slow start but were kept in the game through a brilliant partnership between Finn O’Brien and Al Russell, Al scoring 58. This was followed by a small collapse in the middle order, leaving it all to do for the tail. They batted brilliantly, with Will Harris taking the game to the bowlers with a dominant 17, before Alfie Gibbs (DMG) and Milo Dundas were calm under pressure and kept up with the run-a-ball rate required. They saw us home in the last over with 2 wickets in hand, capping off a strong batting performance.

Monday morning started with a cultural breakfast. We all found it very interesting to learn about and experience such a different culture from our own and were provided with some great entertainment when Finn O’Brien was made to dress up in the traditional Muslim clothing. Then, in the afternoon, the team went on a very enjoyable desert safari. The activity consisted of some dune bashing, camel riding and then a barbeque.

Our second group game match was against Dubai G force academy in Abu Dhabi. We started the game well with Al Russell and Ben Barber opening the innings. However Ben got out just when we were looking settled at the crease and the middle order faltered against G Force’s skilful spinners. Despite Al’s well-made 62, our score of 155 never looked quite enough, especially when their openers reached 70-0 off 6 overs. They won the game comfortably with about 10 overs to spare and only a couple of wickets down. Although a disappointing result, there were many positives and many lessons to be learnt playing against the eventual winners of the competition.

Our next match was our final group game against Trent College at the Sevens ground. We won the toss and batted first but never really got going, scrambling to a below-par 135 off our 40 overs. Despite some good bowling, good batting saw Trent home with a couple of overs to spare.

Another rest day followed where we were allowed to spend the day with our families, most of whom had come out to support the team. We returned energised, refreshed and a bit sunburnt for our final game on the Friday against Newcastle school. Armaan Treon (JMOB) and Nico MacDonagh (NJR) batted right the way through our 20 overs finishing with 74 and 57 respectively. They had put us in a very strong position at the half way stage and we ended up defending our score of 157 very comfortably, with most of the bowlers chipping in with wickets. It was a fantastic way to end the tour and marked a clear improvement in our cricket from the start of the week. Victory saw us finish 5th out of the 8 teams competing.

Big thanks must go to Mr Fulton, Mr Gillam and Mr Montgomery who have organized such a fantastic tour. The team has taken a lot out of it and our experiences out in Dubai will stand us in good stead for this coming season.

Ben Barber (WFM)