Local cricket fans, players, coaches and officials were treated to a short tour by the world renowned Marylebone Cricket Club last month and many are still enjoying the buzz of rubbing shoulders with the distinguished visitors.
MCC played six matches, winning four and losing two – to Greenies and a President’s XI in their first tour here since 2003.
MCC are based at Lord’s in London and a tour party is drawn from its members who are dispersed from all over the United Kingdom. The members have all played at a high level and on this tour Gavin Hamilton was the only one who had played at Test level.
They tour the world playing matches and giving clinics to help raise interest and standards in the game. It certainly worked here.
At the last match at the Jimmy Powell Oval in West Bay, MCC captain Roland Horridge, said: “I think we had a fantastic trip. We’ve made a lot of friends here, played some hard cricket and been beaten on two occasions, but won the main games against the national side which was our aim.
“To win four and lose two is slightly disappointing but we’ve made friends and enjoyed ourselves.”
He was pleased that the coaching clinics were well received and oversubscribed and would have liked to do more coaching with the women players to help that part of the game grow.
“We also tried to get the coaches together to have a clinic with them but were only here for nine days. Time was pretty tight.”
MCC enjoyed the blazing sun away from the appalling UK weather, the worst in 50 years but home-loving Horridge was looking forward to seeing his wife and three kids again. “The weather will change in the UK, we’ll take the sun back with us.
“Ten years is a long time not to have come back and I feel we’ve rebuilt some bridges, made some new friends and hopefully that will stand us in good stead and we’ll come back earlier next time.”
Horridge was impressed with the Cato brothers, Darren and Corey and Zach McLaughlin. Others who shone included Kervin Ebanks and Marlon Bryan.
“There are also three or four quick fast bowlers coming through who bowled some heavy balls and gave us a fright,” Horridge said.
“The conditions balanced up the teams. They were tough for us. It was 100 degrees, the wickets are quicker and bouncier. The one at Smith Road, because it rained and crumbled a bit, made life very difficult for us.
“We came to be tested and we all contributed to what was a successful tour. I’ll be surprised if we’re not back here within five years.”
MCC veteran Keith Medlycott said: “I thought the whole trip was outstanding, both on and off the field.
“The quality of cricket was of a high standard, higher than we expected and socially the Caymans is a fantastic place. On the basis of an MCC tour this is the perfect place to come.”
Medlycott said he had been on an England tour to the West Indies in 1989-90 and Cayman compares favourably with all of the Caribbean islands.
“Obviously, this is an affluent place and the two wickets we played on were good and conducive to good cricket,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of good, young players here and if they can get exposed slightly more to international games and also to the international methods and coaching styles I think it can grow really quickly.”
As for his own performances, the left-arm spinner said: “I think for a 48-year-old man I did remarkably well!
“Actually, on the coaching side I really enjoyed it. I went to a couple of schools to coach the young kids.
“On the playing side, because of injuries, I ended playing in five matches which hurt the legs a little bit.
“With my coaching background it made it advantageous to have me on board. So if I can come back in a coupe of years I’ll be delighted.
“Every single person in our camp enjoyed it. They played hard on the field and thoroughly enjoyed it off.
“The quality cricket was excellent and the camaraderie of the sides we’ve played against was great. It’s nice to be talking about cricket again, which is something I think we don’t do enough of in England, even at professional standards. But here it was different and that has made everybody keen to continue to learn.”
MCC also brought former Test umpire John Holder to pass on tips to officials. Overall, it all got the thumbs up from technical director Theo Cuffy who said: “It was a fantastic learning experience for all of us.
“Their professionalism and approach will help us going forward. Even running between the wickets was like an art form.
“Everyone is focused on hitting boundaries in the 20/20 format but MCC showed from their running that you need to learn to manipulate the strike which is a hallmark of good batsmanship.” Frank Hinds is the assistant coach to Pearson Best for the Cayman national team. He plays for JJ’s in Division 2 on Saturdays and played in three losing matches against MCC.
“Personally, I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be,” said Hinds who was captain in the last game.
“For the younger players, it should help them realise that the consistency of cricket we’re playing is not at a high enough level. I just hope that people can learn from what they have seen from this.
“It’s all about consistency and bowling at a high level for a long time and not just one or two balls. And in batting don’t just give away your wicket.
“It was a good outing for us and our players just need more exposure like this for the guys to develop their cricket at a more consistent level.”
Omar Bryan is an all-rounder who bowls off spin. The 29-year-old firefighter plays for By Rite in Division 1 and JJ’s in the second division. He was in three matches against MCC, including the winning President’s XI team. “I got a lot of experience from it,” Bryan said.
“I bowled well in the first two games but didn’t do so well in the last one, but I batted well in the last game.
“It was a great experience to come up against some high class players who have been playing a long time against guys like us who work for a living. It was a good, basic all-round tournament.
“I’m looking forward to MCC returning and hope to make the national team again.”