Cricket in Hanoi

The game of cricket started in English villages many years ago, but is now played with varying degrees of skill and enthusiasm in many part of the world.

The author has even played cricket in Hanoi in Vietnam; please try to imagine – it’s July 1998 and very hot but somehow we persuaded someone to let us play on their football field!   A motley collection of local cattle appeared to be the only grounds men we could find, and they were a bit reluctant to move off their field.

Initially there were 18 or 20 of us, and we divided ourselves into two teams – Australia versus the Rest of the World!  Most of us had running shoes or trainers, and wore shorts.  One young man turned up wearing a smart Bradman outfit complete with a baggy green.

The World team batted first and I cannot remember what I scored, but we were all out for 30 runs.  Our numbers increased during the afternoon, and we ended up playing 14 a side.  We had arranged for a supply of cool beer and pizza for a tea break.  Some local boys looked at the pizza longingly, and they got their fair share, even though they probably had never tasted cheese before.

Now it was the turn of the World’s team to field, and we agreed that each player would bowl one over.  Now I’m no spring chicken, but I found I could get some spin off the uneven surface and even managed to get two wickets in my over – the beer probably helped.

Now we had a problem as the next bowler could not be found, so I bowled a seventh ball, and got another wicket!

A few balls later Australia won with their 31st run.  The loser had to pay for the beer and we all congratulated Brad, Mitch and Suneer.  Suneer?  The Ozzies had slunk in three ringers from the sub-continent!  Now I asked the scorer to let me know whom I had bowled out, but they told me they only recorded the runs scored, not the wickets, so all traces of my three wickets from seven balls was lot to posterity!

We all retreated to a friendly hostelry in Nguyen Khac Can Street, just off Trang Tien, which unfortunately has long since closed its doors.