Over the course of the Boxing Day Test, the MCC welcomed one of its reciprocal clubs, Cricket Club of India (CCI), who were on their first Australian visit since 2003.
Having spent five days in Perth and playing two matches, our guests literally received a stormy reception flying into Melbourne late on Christmas evening amid thunder and lightning.
We trust their experience in Melbourne over the next week was exciting in a different sense and far more enjoyable.
The touring party was able to take in the first two days of the Australia v India Test before heading to country Victoria, playing the Barkers Creek CC (est. 1855) at Castlemaine, celebrating 25 years since the first of six matches the two clubs have played against each other.
On Thursday December 29, the MCC XXIX Club played CCI in a 40-over match at the Albert Ground.
Captained by Michael Sholly, the XXIXers bowled first and dismissed CCI in the 40th over for 178. Matt Stein was the leading wicket-taker with four.
In reply, Ash Middlin and Justin Graham both made half-centuries. Troy Lamb, a former MCC player and recent addition to the XXIX Club member ranks, finished 43 not out to help take the XXIX Club to a six-wicket victory in the 30th over.
On the Friday evening, on what was scheduled to be the fifth day of the Test, a dinner to honour the CCI was held in the Long Room.
Apart from the wonderful experience of dining in the Long Room, it was an opportunity for the touring party to formally meet MCC players, officials and various committee representatives.
MCC president Paul Sheahan toasted the CCI and later exchanged commemorative gifts with tour manager, Sundeep Guljrani, who responded on CCI’s behalf.
Next day, players from both teams arrived excited by the prospect of playing a match on the MCG on the last day of the year.
CCI captain Vinayak Samant, a wicket-keeper/batsman who has played more than 100 first-class matches, won the toss and elected to bowl first.
MCC captain Andrew Kent (22) opened up with Michael Hill (53 off 37 balls, four 4s and four 6s) with a stand of 75 before both were dismissed on that tally. Seb Gotch (31) steadied the innings with top scorer Matthew Brown (76 off 83 balls, two 4s and two 6s).
In the end, after the flying start, CCI would have been well pleased with holding the MCC to 9/245 off the allotted 50 overs. Aniket Redkar and Harshad Desale each took three wickets to rein in the early run rate.
In response, MCC were well on top having dismissed the first four CCI batsmen with only 46 runs on the board. However, once again, the CCI demonstrated fighting qualities. Akshay Jambhekar (91 off 105 balls, eleven 4s) was joined by Rahul Lad (37) and added 84 for the fifth wicket.
Another handy partnership took the score to 5/199 with nearly nine overs remaining and put CCI in a favoured position to win the game.
Wickets fell but the scoreboard kept ticking over to the exciting stage where CCI needed eight runs for victory with one wicket in hand from the final over.
The match ended abruptly when Dan Worrall rattled the stumps with his first delivery of the 50th over, taking his fourth wicket in the process, to secure a seven-run victory for the MCC.
Melbourne Cricket Club 9/245 cc (50 overs)
(M.Hill 53, S.Gotch 31, M.Brown 76, A.Redkar 3/55, H.Desale 3/42) defeated
Cricket Club of India 238 (49.1 overs)
(A.Jambhekar 91, R.Lad 37, D.Worrall 4/40)