The Phené Philanderers Cricket Club

Over the boundary
Daily Telegraph, Friday 6 July 1990

THE winds of change slowly breezing through Albania are not just political. The country seems to be embracing one rather un-Marxist sport. Cricket has not made much headway there since the Twenties, when England batsman C. B. Fry was offered the crown of Albania, which was looking not so much for an opening bat as for a gentleman with a substantial income.

Since Fry was unable to come up with the readies, one King Zog was chosen instead; now, though, cricketing links have been resumed by a London team which is believed to be the first to visit Albania's shores.

The Phené Philanderers - from Chelsea's Phené Arms - were on tour to Corfu but their sponsors, London's Martyn Holidays, managed to arrange a detour to an Albanian fishing town. "We couldn't find any flat land there," says captain Noel Baptiste, "so we set up a wicket on some concrete - using a pylon as the stumps."

At least one Albanian appears to have a natural aptitude for the game - local tourist guide Dragua Kaleme. "He hit the ball all over the place," laughs Baptiste. "He struck a German tourist who was standing at mid-off, knocking his camera out of his hands."

Baptiste sees a bright future for the Adriatic game: "They view it as a civilising influence".