We travelled up to Vic for the first time for our last game of the 30-over league season against a new opponent in Raval Sporting CC. It would turn out to be a game with many records, with very few in our favour! Captain Sid Tewari lost the toss and Raval chose to bat.
Sid opted to open with the spin/ seam combo of Tommy Creagh and Anish Shindore. The scene was set early on as the first ball of the game went for four, followed soon after by the first six. Despite some damage in the first over, Anish quickly pulled things back with a wicket in his first over, caught well by Umair Iqbal at point. However, Raval's other opener Karan Datta continued bludgeoning the ball over the short straight boundary and by the time the opening bowlers came off after 6 overs Raval had reached 47/1, despite tidy figures for Anish. Sid brought himself and spin-twin Umer Razi on. Umer got a wicket in his first over thanks to a second good catch by Umair. Unfortunately, this brought Manish Manwani to the crease, who had clearly been watching Datta (at this point with over 75% of Raval's runs having passed 50) from the sidelines and fancied a piece of the action. Sid started to chop and change the bowlers more often, with Anish and Tommy coming back for one over either side of the introduction of Maroof Shaikh. Datta had had a bit more trouble with Anish's seam than any of the spinners, which proved to be the same with Maroof until he got hold of him in his third over. Todd Fraser gave the trees at long-off some catching practice, but offered the team a half-celebration after having the batters caught twice in two balls (sadly off a no ball and the resulting free hit). By this point Datta had passed a brilliantly made hundred, but was to fall in the next over to Umer for 125 off just 67 balls. Two balls later and Umer had another wicket and, at 193/4 off 20 overs, there was hope that we might be able to limit Raval to a chaseable total. Sadly, Manwani clearly didn't read the same hopeful script as us and set about demolishing our bowlers. None of Tommy, Damien McMullen, Umer (3/57), Sid or Anish (1/54) could stop him, or new partner Kshitil Patel, as Raval scored a mammoth 165 in the final ten overs. That was until Tom Kynaston, in his last game for the club before returning to England, was brought on for the last over. With his second (legitimate) ball, Tom (1/16) had him stumped by the again fantastic Jack Jewson. Raval had finished on 358/5 from their 30, the highest score of the league season so far.
If chasing two a ball for 30 overs was unlikely (especially with our dismal batting form all season), any chance of winning quickly to improve our net run rate to get into the top positions was definitely out of the window and splatted on the ground below. Umair and Maroof went out to bat. Aided by five early penalty runs for rubbing saliva on the ball, and a few wides, the pair got us off to a fast start and we started to get more hopeful on the sidelines that the chase might just be possible. Having reached 67/0 from eight overs, we were just two runs behind where Raval were. At this point they brought on Guarang Mahyavanshi, who immediately got a wicket with his first ball, with Umair (14) falling. Maroof and Umer (13) rebuilt briefly before the latter too felt to Mahyavanshi. In came Sid, who smashed two sixes off his first two balls but would all too quickly fall to the same bowler again for a quickly made 20, caught in the deep attempting a fourth six. Anish came in to join Maroof, who was on strike and got to his 50 next ball, his first for the club. Sadly two balls later he was bowled by that man Mahyavanshi (4/46) again without adding to his score. When Anish was dismissed cheaply, we were on 135/5 from 18 overs and the task of chasing down this mammoth record target was becoming rather unlikely! The two wickets falling had brought Jack and Damien together, who went about steadying the ship with a 26 run partnership. By this point we were taking the small victories, and celebrated bringing up our highest total of the (rather abismal batting-wise) season. El Presidente (17) fell with the game absolutely dead and gone and Todd came to the wicket. On the sidelines, the remaining three batters of James Smith, Tommy and Tom were all padded up, clearly not expecting great things from either Todd or Jack. However, the two of them batted through the rest of the innings with a superb 71 run unbeaten partnership, with Jack cruelly finishing two runs short of another maiden BICC half-century, with Todd finishing on a BICC-best of 21. We finished on 232/6, some 126 runs short of Raval but still easily our best score of the season.
Sadly, the defeat condemned us to last place in Group C with just one win from the six games we actually played. There was little shame in losing to this Raval side though, who will finish top of the group, and had four fine individual performances backed up by the rest. Most importantly, the game was played in a great spirit and Raval invited us for a beer at the end of the game. That's definitely the way into our hearts and I'm sure we'll meet again on the pitch soon. We wish them well in the quarter-finals. Hopefully our next showing in the federated league will go slightly better!
After the game (and beer), we headed back to Barcelona for a curry at our partner's Koh-i-noor in Poble Sec.
BICC made our first trip to Empuriabrava and was surprised to see something magnificent at the ground. GRASS! With a constant rain of skydivers in the background it was quite a nice ground to be at.
Sid won the toss and decided to try our luck with the bat. Maroof and Burhan opened the batting and managed to scratch together 16 before Burhan was caught and bowled in the fourth over. That brought Umer to the crease, who was looking good with a lovely six over long on, before he was trapped in front for 6. Anish came in and was dealt the same fate leaving BICC 3/29 in the seventh. Maroof, who had been batting well, tried to clear the infield but was caught. Damien retired hurt at the end of the same over bringing Hamza and Jack to the crease. They had our longest partnership in the middle ( 5 overs ) before Hamza was also caught. Much like Umi, Sid came in, cleared the boundary, and was bowled leaving the scorecard 6/66. Oscar and Tommy were dealt the same treatment followed shortly after by Bruce, being caught in the covers which left Roses a mere 75 for victory.
Roses came in with the intention of wrapping up the game in five overs but Tommy and Sid had other ideas. Tommy picked up their opener with his third ball as superdad Anish took a calm and collected catch in the deep. Not to be outdone, Sid also took a wicket with his third ball, luring a batsman out while Jack quickly removed the bails in a very tight call which fell in our favour. Tommy picked up another wicket with his eighth ball in similar fashion to the first wicket with Anish taking another nice catch on the run in the deep and a bit of belief was creeping into the hearts of the BICC faithful.
Sid made the opposition dance to one of his world famous moon balls and the batsman seemed to have no choice but play at it a few steps out of his crease and popped an easy catch to Damien at slip and they were 4/37.
Roses then put on 19 more before the Tommy-Anish combination pulled another victim. Umi chimed in with a nice catch from Bruce (with a look of surprise on his face) but that was the end of the wickets as Roses chased down the below par total. A few tough catches went down but it was a great bowling and fielding performance. Unfortunately more runs were needed on the board to trouble one of the top teams. BICC are still struggling with the bat with only one player reaching double figures (Maroof) but there is one more opportunity at the end of the month.
In usual BICC style we went for a feed and a drink together after the game for a laugh and to discuss the what might have beens before heading back to Barcelona.
After having to forfeit our league game last week, we travelled back to Riudarenes for our fourth league game there against a familiar opponent in Rising Stars. We were confident of repeating previous victories against them despite their status as a seeded team in our group. With a squad heavily depleted by Covid cases and contacts, we finally scraped together an 11 on Thursday, and fortunately none of them had to drop out. One notable absentee was Sid Tewari, so Stu Boyd took the reigns as captain for the first time in his BICC career. Tim Lee made his BICC debut and Oscar Kleparski his league debut, as we welcomed previous captain Mohsin Nawaz back for his first match back since standing down last year.
Stu lost the toss and we were put in the field. The returning Mohsin (1/22) and Seb Armstrong opened the bowling. Both quickly got breakthroughs as two wickets fell in the second and third overs. The third wicket built a 52-run partnership that Oscar (1/17) finally broke. Tim was finally rewarded for some miserly bowling in his third over to leave Rising Stars at 85/4 at the halfway stage. Damien McMullen, Maroof Shaikh, Kevin Kitchin and Nathan Blyth came on for their first bowls of the tournament and it was the latter two who rewarded their temporary captain’s faith with a wicket each, Kevin (1/13) on his third ball and Nathan (1/23) in his third over. Seb and Tim came back to clean up the tail, Seb (2/32) picking up one wicket and Tim (3/18) getting his just rewards with the final two wickets either side of a run out by Stu. Rising Stars were bowled out for 195 with one over left, mainly thanks to 69 from their number 3 Mati-Ur-Rehman Malik (and 39 wides…).
Maroof went out to open with Hamza Baig, the only outfielder not to bowl in the first innings. The two went about trying to build a solid start, but Hamza fell in the sixth over. Stu came in, but fell an over later bringing Tim to the crease. Him and Maroof stayed together for five overs, but we were still struggling to keep up with the required run rate. When both fell in the space of three balls, we were on 42/4 after 12 overs. Kevin and Damien spent a few overs in the middle together but also couldn’t get the run rate up. Kevin was caught and Damien (17) was run out, bringing Nathan and wicketkeeper Jack Jewson (22*) together for the biggest partnership of the innings – 29. Unfortunately, by this point we needed more than two a ball and, with wickets running out, victory looked increasingly unlikely. After Nathan (19) got out, Mohsin (13) came in for a cameo and Seb kept Jack company to the end, eventually dismissed off the last ball of the innings. We finished on 137/9 from our 30 overs.
Ultimately, we were undone by one batter from the opposition (Malik’s 69 was the only score over 22), some wayward bowling (our 39 wides to their 13) and the progress of the opposition in the year since we last played them (“They're quick bowlers and don't mind bouncing you. Was good to see their development actually. They played good solid cricket all day.” – Stu). Despite the 58-run defeat, it was a good day individually for many of our players. Kevin and Tim picked up their first BICC wickets, with Oscar joining them in getting his best BICC figures. Nathan also achieved his first league wicket, as well as his highest batting score. Jack and Seb also managed to bag their best batting score for the club, with surely more to come. Our next game in two weeks-time is the long trip away to Empuriabrava, to play the local team Roses Spartans.
With BICC seeing unprecedented availability in recent times, there has been a growing desire to get a friendly team going alongside our league team. After two failed attempts, we finally managed to organise a game against a Bengali XI full of juniors trained by our former player Nadim. It was also the first game played at CEM Maresme, which has become our regular practice ground in the past few weeks. The game saw no fewer than four BICC debuts (Shane Lightley, Martin Dobson, Jon Wong and Barry Edwards) as well as a ‘second debut’ for Edward Spencer-Phillips, who had a brief spell playing for the club in 2007/08. Umer Razi captained a BICC side for just the second time. Only Umer and Sam Phillipps (and Edward) had played for the club before 2021, as we did our best impression of the England squad currently playing Pakistan (“sorry, what was your name again mate?”). The BICC 2nd XI was up and running, and for the first time we’d have two sides in the same weekend*, with 19 players set to play over the weekend.
Umer lost the toss and former BICC guest player and Bengali captain Omar chose to bat. Shriram Bhosale and Nick Parkes opened the bowling with some fierce bowling that was too quick for the Bengali openers, with most of the runs during their two over spells coming from wides. Then came a new newbie and an old newbie in the shape of Jon and Edward. With pace off the ball, the batters felt a bit more comfortable and started to play a few shots, although at the cost of three more wickets, with Jon picking up his first BICC wickets. Umer kept ringing the changes, and having relieved him of the gloves, Burhan Ejaz and James Smith came on to bowl for the first time in a BICC shirt. The pair formed a more miserly partnership and were unlucky not to pick up more than the one wicket, another first BICC wicket for James. Umer quickly ditched the gloves, handing them to the late-arriving Barry to bring himself on for a bowl. With his wicket, and one more for the returning Shriram and Edward saw Bengali finish on 108/11, after Umer graciously allowed them a twelfth batter (not that he managed to contribute anything!).
Barry went out to open with last week’s league opener Burhan with the two of them settling well for a 23-run partnership. This was before Barry (11) felt to the local rule of hitting the ball over the fence behind the wicket (a notice that he’d missed having arrived late – oops!). This brought Shane to the crease, who provided something of an anchor as Burhan (10), Martin (after a thundering straight drive!) and James fell at the other end. Shane fell for a well-made 16, and we were starting to get nervous in the dugout watching on as wickets fell consistently. When Nick and Jon too fell cheaply we were on 55/7 and staring down the barrel of the gun. Fortunately, Edward and Umer built a strong partnership, taking us to within sight of victory before Edward (12) fell to the same rule as Barry (despite knowing about it). Shriram came in to watch Umer (26*) hit the winning runs with four overs to spare.
Our thanks to Nadim and Bengali for getting us a game and providing a good opponent and to Anish for umpiring the first innings when he’d just turned up to deliver the kit bags! It was a really enjoyable game played in the right manner by both teams. A huge well done must be given to Mr Wides, for scoring so many runs across both innings in a low-scoring game. Ahem...
*We didn’t get two sides out in the end, as we had to forfeit our league game the next day after a positive Covid case ruled out half the team! D'oh! We’ll try again soon.
Once again we travelled to Riudarenes for a Catalan league fixture, this time against Trinitat Stars. Our team had no fewer than four debutants – Tommy Creagh, Shriram Bhosale, James Smith and Todd Fraser (the latter two had already been involved as 12th men). Sid Tewari won the toss and we decided to bowl.
The opening pair of Stu Boyd and Shriram got us under way, with little luck. They were replaced after 7 overs by the spin pair of Sid and Tommy, who immediately got stuck in to clawing back the match. Sid got a wicket first ball and fourth ball, before three more wickets (two for Sid, and a first for Tommy) in three overs reduced Trinitat from 51/0 to 74/5. Tommy would go on to claim three more wickets to finish with very fine debut figures of 4/32 from his 6 overs. With spin clearly working well, Umer Razi came on to bowl, with less success before Sid came back to clean up the tail along with the returning Shriram (1/32) who claimed his maiden wicket. Sid had picked up consecutive five-fers, finishing with 5/14 from just 5.1 overs. Trinitat Stars were bowled out for 119 from 21.1 overs.
BICC went out to chase the low score knowing that time was on their side. Maroof Shaikh and Burhan Ejaz opened the batting, playing well and settling the nerves with a steady 21-run partnership. When Burhan got out, he was followed by Stu first ball. This brought Maroof and Umer together, who once again steadied the ship and took BICC to the halfway mark runs-wise. A little wobble followed, as we collapsed from 59/2 to 81/7, as Maroof (23) and Umer (20) were followed cheaply by Nick Parkes, Shriram and James. Captain Sid came in at 9 to join President Damien. When the latter was run out for 17, we had already passed into triple figures and could smell our first league victory. With Sid (21*) scoring most of the runs, he and Todd Fraser (4*) took BICC home with 8 balls to spare.
For the first time in 9 years, BICC had won a Catalan league match!
p.s. you can read Cricket España's report of this historical game here
BICC travelled to Riudarenes again for its second league game of the season, against another new opponent in Ali CC. Sid Tewari won the toss and decided to field first. Also like the first game, the playing eleven included two debutants, Maroof Shaikh and Nick Parkes, with 12th man James Smith also yet to make his debut on the pitch.
Rez Hassan and Anish Shindore opened up, and it didn’t take long for some fireworks. Both suffered at the hands of Ali opener Zeeshan (58) who got the oppo off to a flying start. By the time both opening bowlers were withdrawn, the score had reached 71/0 after just six overs. Umer Razi came on for the seventh over. Zeeshan reached his 50 with a huge six before Umer got his revenge, dismissing him caught and bowled. The volume and energy on the pitch, which had naturally subsided somewhat, increased and BICC felt like they had an important breakthrough. Sid brought himself on at the other end and got two wickets in his first ball. Suddenly Ali had gone from 81/0 to 85/3. They kept tumbling, with Sid completing a 5fer after just 3.4 overs which left Ali on 125/6. Umer eventually bowled out with very respectable figures of 1/40. Meanwhile, Stu Boyd had come on to replace Sid and continued his economic trend. He also managed to pick up two wickets, the first a slightly fortuitous LBW followed by a slip catch by Nathan (his fourth in three games), conceding just nine runs from his four overs. Tom Kynaston replaced Umer and also kept the scoring rate down (at least, when he found the astroturf strip…). Sid brought himself back on again, and again got a wicket first ball to achieve his best ever BICC figures of 6/24. Two balls later and Maroof combined with wicketkeeper Jack Jewson to end the innings with a run out. Ali were dismissed for 160 in just the 23rd over. After that electric start, BICC had done well to reel in what could have been a formidable total. Sid made sure to praise Jack’s efforts behind the stumps as having saved 20-30 runs in just his second outing for the club.
Four balls later though and Jack, opening the batting with Umair Iqbal, had run himself out without scoring. First Stu, then Sid, Nick and Umer briefly joined Umair, with BICC struggling to get going against the Ali openers. When Umair (25) was also run out in the 13th over with the score at 47/6, we were well in trouble. Whilst the required run rate wasn’t necessarily an issue, we were fast running out of wickets in hand. Then Maroof and Nathan came together, occupying the crease for a few overs, steadily accumulating the highest partnership of the innings (19!). Those watching on from the side started to believe again, before Maroof unluckily fell to a very sharp stumping. Anish came in next desperate to regain some batting form but unfortunately nicked off, the keeper pulling off a smart dismissal on the way to player of the match. With Tom doing his finest Jack Leach impression (0 off 10) at one end, Rez’s quick cameo (19) came to an end after one too many big hits and he was caught in the deep. With this brought the end of the innings and the match. Despite a 64 run loss, we had enjoyed our day. Whilst chatting away with a beer after the game, the two teams for the next match at the ground turned up and, looking at our mood, presumed we’d won. Maybe next time…
In the end, Ali were too strong for us across all departments and we could see why they were one of the seeded teams in our group. They played in a good spirit and we hope to meet them on the pitch again soon!
In other positive news, we were able to use our new Big Dogg kit for the first time, the first time BICC has turned out fully in uniform for many a year. And don't we look good!
BICC travelled up to Riudarenes for our first game of the 2021 Catalan league season against Lleida Tigers, the first time we've competed in the league since dropping out during the 2013 season. The match saw the debuts of Seb Armstrong and Burhan Ejaz, with another recent recruit Todd Fraser as 12th man. It was also a first BICC appearance on Catalan soil for Tom Kynaston, after his debut in our last game in Menorca in October.
Lleida won the toss and decided to bowl first, with Sid Tewari deciding to open with himself and wicketkeeper Hamza Baig. Hamza fell with the score on just 6, before Stu Boyd and Kevin Kitchin both fell cheaply to leave BICC on 24/3. Umer Razi came to the crease to join captain Sid and the pair steadied the ship well in a 72-run partnership. Halfway through the innings, there was a brief delay as the local mayor, Mr Josep Solé Turon, was introduced to the teams by members of the Catalan Federation's committee. Unfortunately soon after the break, Sid fell one run short of his 50 and his departure brought about another quick flurry of wickets, with Anish Shindore, Nathan Blyth and Seb falling with just five more runs added to the score. Rez Hassan (11) came in for a quick cameo, before Umer, quickly running out of partners, was caught for 39. With him gone, the last wicket partnership of Burhan and Tom scraped another five runs before the former was bowled and BICC were dismissed for 135, leaving 15 balls unused on the table. The morning's game at the same ground had seen the Ripoll Warriors successfully defend a similar score in the second innings, so there was optimism in the camp (or at least, on the whatsapp group).
New boy Seb opened up with Sid, and after leaking a few runs, both of them got one of the openers out in their second over. In the fifth over, Rez was brought on to replace Seb (1/28). Together with Sid (2/22), the pair brought the scoring rate down and continued to pick up wickets. Rez ended up with impressive figures of 2/13, both of his wickets taken by Nathan at slip (but cleverly claimed by Kevin on the scorecard). After 9 overs, Lleida Tigers were 58/5 and starting to run out of batters, even if their scoring rate was still above the required. Stu and Anish were brought on, with Anish (1/25) picking up a wicket well caught by Hamza. A few balls later and the teams were off for a rain delay. At this point, BICC were ahead by one run according to the Duckworth-Lewis method. Despite this, there was a want to get the job done on the pitch. After a few minutes, the teams went back out, with Lleida's number 3 Ahmed Ifraz ultimately taking the game away with the help of a few too many extras. Including a 5-run penalty for incomplete kit (that the umpires were helped to remember in the 46th over of the game) the 7th wicket put on 57 runs. In the end, that partnership made the difference and meant we fell to defeat. Our wait for a league win continues at 9 years!
Despite the defeat and the iffy weather conditions, everyone had a great time and were pleased to be back playing a cricket match after over seven months. Beers were had post-match, and some of the guys went for a curry too. Onwards and upwards! Visca BICC!
See scorecard here vs Menorca
See scorecard here vs Mallorca
Menorca v Barcelona Saturday 24th October 40/40
At last a fleeting return to some kind of normality as we had the pleasure of entertaining a new look Barcelona International CC. The visitors escaping from the ciudad condal after enduring much stricter lockdown and confinement than ourselves. They arrived in dribs and drabs before being fully assembled on Friday evening, steam let off in various hostelries, culminating in a finger buffet at Es Figueral.
Menorca were dealt a savage blow with the eagerly anticipated return of the now fit and slim (f&s) Dan Osterbery thrown in to disarray following a calamitous bike ride. It was unthinkable considering he´d only days before completed the 800km across the arduous camino de Santiago alongside new skipper Joe Brayne. He certainly fell by the wayside having being cajoled in to a libatius lunch with the effervescent Sturgeon, he was unable to negotiate the 4km from San Luis to Binibeca resulting in numerous breakages and a whole heap of pain. The comeback put on ice and ibuprofen until next season unfortunately.
Brayne lost the toss and was asked to bat first. Much hope resting on the young yet more than capable Lavin first up but it wasn´t to be on this occasion as he popped one up to the covers. Fellow opener Hagger (29) fared much better but was cruelly triggered by new coach Cotton. A brush up on the laws wouldn´t go amiss during the close season was the general consensus. Replaced by Roussel (29) a solid partnership ensued until he also fell LBW bringing Dow to the crease. It was dour from Dow as he struggled to make an impact, the country gent back in the hutch, gilet firmly zipped for a spluttering 3. It was former skipper Cotton´s offspring who top scored. No appreciation for line or length on display his 36 came quickly and awash with youthful exuberance. A late unlikely flurry from Sturgeon rounded off the hosts innings a below par 173 posted.
The Barcelona retort wasn´t the best initially with Hamza and Sid both falling cheaply, the Catalans in trouble at 30/3. That brought the enigmatic Umer Razi to the crease, the much maligned all rounder silenced his critics with a carefully paced innings. He was brutal with anything short and despite being dropped relatively early on he controlled the run chase superbly, ably assisted by Stu Boyd who upped the ante, finishing the run chase with aplomb and 11 balls to spare.
A joint yet socially distanced dinner at the outstanding Clementina followed proceedings. We were enlightened by Sturgeon and Dow who gave a comprehensive description on the subtle nuances throughout the Southern French wine region. Port was also on the agenda, Dow an authority on port and dessert wine impressing with his depth of knowledge.
Sunday 25th October Barcelona v Mallorca T20
Mallorca came to the party on Sunday too playing a T20 Mallorca in the morning and then against ourselves in the afternoon.
The first game ended up being a very tight affair with Barcelona just pipping the Mallorca boys by 3 wickets with only 1 ball to spare they made hard work of chasing down a paltry 108.
Menorca v Mallorca T20
To the final game of the season Mallorca batted first with the hosts under the stewardship of Roussel. New boy Stefan and stalwart Ali did well at the top of the order scoring 21 & 31 respectively a useful 26 from Zeeshan also got the visitors up to 119 at the close of their 20 overs the local bowlers all doing well to contain the neighbours.
There was a certain air of bewilderment as Tysoe was taxed with opening alongside Lavin. He struggled to gather any momentum, out for 11 in the 9th over. Once Lavin (29) and Tysoe made their way back to the pavilion in successive balls there was a monumental middle order collapse giving the visitors a comfortable 27 run victory.
So the curtain falls on a non event type of season, we are eternally grateful to both Mallorca and Barcelona for making the herculean effort to get here and enjoy the facilities at the home of Balearic cricket. Also to everyone who helps behind the scenes, the ground looks great, the new wicket is playing as we hoped it would and the good news is we´re fully booked for the next two seasons.
See you all next season.
Jeff Barker (Menorca CC)
See scorecard here vs Menorca
See scorecard here vs Mallorca
Following our cancelled tour in April (done for obvious reasons), BICC were champing at the bit to return to Menorca after somehow going two and a half years without a tour there. Despite having lost a couple of senior players in recent months, the club is seeing a real boost in numbers this season and managed to whip up a mega sixteen players to take the short trip across the Mediterranean. Of these sixteen, ten had never been on a BICC tour, one more hadn’t been to Menorca and two hadn’t even made their official debut for the club! Menorca ever-presents Sam Phillipps, Umer Razi and new captain Sid Tewari were back for their sixth tour on the island.
THURSDAY: Sid and Sam, joined by Hamza Baig, arrived on Thursday and quickly went to check out the ground and its beautiful grass. There they found new Menorca captain Joe Brayne and Jeff Barker preparing for the weekend’s games and were invited to join them, and a few other MCC players, that evening for a catch-up drink. The weekend had begun!
FRIDAY morning saw a further seven players arrive, all of them first-timers (Anish Shindore, Oscar Kleparski, Leo Viñola, Kevin Kitchin, Simon Eldridge, Nathan Blyth and Jack Jewson). After going for a burger lunch near our hotel, the ten of us headed to the ground for a look-around and a net practice, but only after the traditional photos and rolling around on the grass! Whilst there, the penultimate group of Umer Razi, Rez Hassan and Umair Iqbal arrived and briefly joined in the practice. With the sun setting, we headed back to the hotel (via picking up the final three arrivals of Damien McMullen, Stu Boyd and Tom Kynaston) to freshen up for dinner and get everyone checked in. Given the current situation, finding a place for dinner for a group of 16 can be difficult, but we were very lucky to find and completely book out a great restaurant in the town of Es Castell called Es Llenegall (highly recommended!). Upon returning to the hotel, some of the players took advantage of current restrictions to sit outside the hotel with a great view over the port, having one last night cap before bed.
SATURDAY morning, and finally time to play on Menorca’s hallowed turf! With us having such a large touring group, Menorca were kind enough to agree to a 12-aside match (12 batsmen, but just 11 fielders). The playing XI was Hamza (wk), Sid (C), Kevin, Umer, Damien, Stu, Anish, Rez, Oscar, Leo and Nathan, with Simon being the 12th player to bat at 3.
Menorca won the toss and decided to bat. Rez and Anish opened, and it wasn’t long before Anish got the first wicket of the game, dismissing Adam for a duck courtesy of a smart catch from Damien. Captain Sid had said that he was going to rotate the bowlers through short spells, and so after just three tidy overs each, he brought on Oscar and Stu. Oscar struggled a bit to find his line so, trying to find a breakthrough as the second wicket partnership started to build, Sid decided to bring himself on soon after, bowling in tandem with his vice-captain. A couple of overs later and Stu got that breakthrough, ex-MCC captain Simon giving the second opener Julian out LBW for a well-made 26. Batsman wasn’t happy, bowler was convinced it was plumb (in other news, water is wet). Despite this wicket, Stu was whipped out of the attack next over to allow Umer to come on from the Pavilion End. It proved to be a good swap as Umer got a wicket in his second over, dismissing Nick for 29 with another LBW. This brought about the halfway drinks break, with Menorca on 67/3 after 20 overs.
As they say, drinks bring wickets, and Menorca lost one the very first ball after the break. Opener Rez returned and immediately got Marcus to edge the ball to Nathan at slip with a good ball, and Nathan somehow managed to cling on to it! Unfortunately, BICC’s catching was to deteriorate somewhat over the next couple of overs, with Sid dropping a catch off the bowling of Umer, before Umer dropped one off the bowling of Rez, and then Rez dropped one from Leo’s first ball, after he had replaced Umer. Rez was then taken out of the attack and Damien was brought on to bowl some spin. His first over saw the batsman take a big hit out towards deep midwicket where Nathan was waiting for the ball, only for the fourth drop to go down in as many overs. The batsmen were living dangerously and offering chances and another wicket was only a matter of time. Luckily, the catching behind the wicket was up to scratch, and when Leo got Toby (36) to swing at a wild one, Hamza somehow held onto a relatively thick edge and the quick-scoring batsman was gone after a 54 run partnership. Despite this success, Leo became the second bowler to be taken out of the attack straight after a wicket with Nathan coming on for his first bowl. It turned out to be another stroke of genius (or sheer luck) from the captain, as he took a wicket first ball, the batsman picking out Mr Safe Hands Stu in the deep with accurate precision. Nathan would get a second wicket in his second over too, this time caught in the covers by Sid. Despite securing best-ever figures Nathan was taken out of the attack, with Sid and Stu returning to bowl together again. Stu then claimed two wickets in an over, as BICC looked to quickly clean up a very strong looking tail. He first knocked over the stumps, removing MCC stalwart Roy (24) before enticing the next batsman Grant to edge one straight up high, Stu claiming the catch off his own bowling. Rez replaced the wicketless Sid and quickly got his second wicket of the innings, Jeff caught by Umer. This brought the last batsman in, but confusion led to Joe being run out by Stu. BICC had bowled out MCC for 166 from 37.2 overs, with eight wickets falling in the 17.2 overs after drinks!
After a half an hour late lunch break, Sid and Hamza went out chasing a below-par score full of confidence. However, after a quick start, Sid was dismissed in the third over for seven, caught by the keeper having tickled the ball off his glove. Specialist batsman Simon came in and managed to build a strong foundation having recently come back from injury, playing like an old Ian Bell circa 2013 (or so he claims…). Hamza fell in the ninth over having scored 13, skying one well up into the air, only for it to fall into the keepers’ gloves. Kevin (1) came and went quickly, becoming the second victim for Grant. This brought Umer to the crease, the ‘enigmatic’ and ‘much maligned’ all-rounder (according to our hosts!). With two of the steadiest scorers in the club batting together, the required run rate rose for a while, although Umi was putting away the bad balls and Simon was able to swing his now fixed arms at a few balls as they played themselves in. That being said, both were giving opportunities, but it was Menorca’s time to put down catches and allow a big partnership to build. They managed to make it to the 20 over drinks break unscathed, with BICC on 64/3, still requiring a further 103 runs. Despite the rising run rate, we were confident with two set batsmen and some big hitters left in the shed yet to come.
At this point, Simon decided that it was time to accelerate, but having given a couple more opportunities that MCC failed to take, finally succumbed when charging up the wicket and being stumped for 18. In came President Damien with 81 more runs required from the remaining 14 overs. Umer too had moved up a gear, and offered another chance in the covers but was put down. With the batsmen having run a single, Damien was then caught at mid-on off the very next ball for a quickfire 12. This brought the dangerous (but tremendously ‘unwell’) Stu to the crease, with 68 now required from 12 overs. Umer offered one more difficult chance to a diving slip fielder, before reaching his fifty with a big six over long-on. By now, the chase was down to a run a ball and the ball was well in BICC’s court, even if next-man-in Anish couldn’t bare to watch Umer’s continued blocking! Stu and Umer calmly continued knocking off the runs, with the scores tied after Stu hit a massive six, and Umer called him through for a suicidal run in a definite attempt to get on strike to score the winning run. Stu turned down a single off the last ball of that over, before dismissing the first ball of the next for another massive six to win the game with 11 balls to spare. Stu finished on a quick 45* and Umer on a well-constructed 63*. BICC continued their unbeaten run over the Menorcans, stretching an unbelievable 11 games. MCC were left cursing their luck and wondering how we always end up on top in these usually tight games.
With the game finished, we hung around at the ground having a beer before heading to nearby Sant Lluis for a lovely, socially distant dinner with the usual speeches from Menorca’s Jeff and our captain Sid. Upon returning to Mahón after dinner, a few of the players headed into town for one last drink.
On SUNDAY, Menorca had invited their Balearic neighbours Mallorca to come play both us and them. With the clocks having gone back overnight, we headed to the ground for an 11am start in our first ever fixture against the Mallorcans. Sid again lost the toss and we were put in the field in this 20 over match. The playing XII was Jack (wk), Umair, Oscar, Kevin, Anish, Sid (c), Rez, Nathan, Hamza, Umer, Tom (bowling only) and Sam (batting if desperately required).
Rez and Anish opened again, with the pairs first overs both ending with a boundary following five dot balls (albeit with four byes in there too). The Mallorcan openers didn’t seem to want to run, with the first twenty runs all coming from fours! In his second over, Anish managed to dismiss both opener Mujahid Ali (bowled) and number 3 Tishan (caught at slip by Umair) in a double wicket maiden! Sid continued his system of rotating the bowlers and brought himself and debutant Tom on. Sid went for a four before the batsman finally scored a run by actually running! Off the next ball, Sid put down a sharp return catch off his own bowling. Two economical overs followed, Tom conceding just two from his first BICC over and Sid just one from his next. Then, in Tom’s second over, he got his first BICC wicket, claiming opener Stefan for 19 following a great catch from Oscar. Tom wouldn’t have to wait long for his second wicket, taking advantage a wide to claim Qais, again caught by Oscar, off the seventh ball of the over. Sid took Tom out of the attack, bringing on Umer, who was again economical in his first over. This left Mallorca struggling a bit on 44/4 at the halfway stage of the innings.
Tom returned from the other end, replacing the skipper, and managed to get himself a third wicket, Rez this time taking the catch at mid-off to dismiss Mallorca captain Wesley. Umer then got in on the act at the start of his third over, having Dev caught by debutant wicketkeeper Jack for his first BICC dismissal. Tom bowled out his fourth over to finish with impressive figures of 3/25, before he ran off to the airport to catch his flight, with Leo substituting for him in the field. Sid brought himself back for his final over and finally got a wicket with his last ball, bowling the fast-scoring Rizwan for 15. At this point, Sid brought back the opening bowlers to clean up the last wickets. Anish claimed the wicket of anchor Paul (26), before Rez claimed the last two wickets in three balls, first bowled before taking a good caught and bowled to end the innings. Mallorca had been dismissed for 105 from 18.3 overs. There were wickets for all five bowlers, but particularly impressive figures for Tom and Anish (3/10).
After a quick break, Jack and Umair opened the innings, chasing what seemed a low score for the second game in a row. The pair built a solid, if slow, start before Jack nicked to the keeper in the seventh over for ten (doing an absolute textbook ‘walk’ off in the process). Oscar came to the crease and tried to increase the scoring rate but fell for four, caught and bowled to Qais. This left BICC looking behind on just 31/2 at the halfway stage, needing another 64 to win.
Things went from bad to worse in the next couple of overs, as BICC then lost another wickets to be on just 44/4 after 12 overs. Kevin came in and was quickly run out from a good throw, running all the way to the boundary much to the amusement of the gathering Menorca fans. Anish then came in looking to try out his new bat, and was promptly bowled first ball. Sid came in next, with BICC needing to up their scoring rate, and he and Umair did that in a needed quick 30-run partnership. Sid was bowled attempting a big shot, but he’d done a job and inputted some momentum into the scoring. Rez came in and offered much of the same, rotating the strike well with the accelerating Umair. Rez was caught in the deep for 11, having perfectly picked out long-on. This brought Nathan to the crease, with BICC now seemingly on top but frequent wickets making things tense on the boundary. Just four were needed from the final over, with opener Umair on strike needing four for a maiden club fifty. First ball, dot. No problem. Second ball, wicket! Umair had edged through to the keeper and had to go. In came Hamza, batting well down the order and he hit a two off his first ball. Two to win, three balls left. The pair then scampered a single off the next ball. (Some) relief, scores were tied, with Nathan now on strike. The two batsmen met and presumably discussed tactics. Nathan missed the ball, and the keeper gathered it cleanly, but was unable to hit the stumps as Hamza sprinted to the other end, both batsmen making their ground, meaning BICC had won the game from the penultimate ball of the over! Once again, we’d made it far more complicated than seemed possible at the change of innings, but we had won our first game against Mallorca.
That afternoon, Mallorca were playing Menorca in another T20 match in front of a good crowd of 30 or so picnickers. We ordered pizza and sat down to watch as Mallorca comfortably beat Menorca, batting more aggressively in this match, and thus setting them a target that was out of their reach. A last beer or two were consumed after the match with promises that we’ll be back soon for tour number seven. Our thanks again to Menorca for having us over once more and organising a great tour in difficult circumstances, even though they haven’t been able to play much this year. It was nice meeting Mallorca CC on the Sunday too, I’m sure it won’t be the last time that our two teams meet. Assuming new restrictions allow, we’ll be back playing on our less green ground in a couple of weeks, daydreaming in the outfield of having a pavilion, a bar, and spectators!
Check out the highlights from the game versus Mallorca here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEHxaDVnC4I&ab&ab_channel=BarcelonaInternationalCricketClub
See scorecard here
It was very windy up in Montjuic, which caused several interruptions as the pitch kept blowing away (yes, you read that correctly). Sid Tewari lost his first toss as captain and we were asked to bowl first.
BICC opened with Rez Hassan and Anish Shindore. Both kept the runs down well for the first four overs but couldn’t quite make the breakthrough, with a surprising and rare drop from Stu Boyd at long off. Badalona opener Omar then got his eye in and punished Rez’s third over, hitting three successive fours. Sam Phillipps and skipper Sid replaced the openers in the sixth and seventh overs respectively. Leo Viñola had a run out chance in Sid’s first over but, with the strike batsman stranded in the middle of the wicket, unfortunately threw to the wrong end! In the next over, after a couple of loose balls rightly put away for six, Sam finally made the first breakthrough in the eighth over, as Rez caught Omar with a simple chance at mid-on. Rez was in the action again in the very next over, as he ran out the other opener Salim. Soon after there was another run out, this time Sid with the throw following further confusion with the running. Meanwhile, Umer Razi replaced Sam (1/21) and the two slow bowlers really brought the run-rate down with some tight bowling. Sid replaced himself with Stu (2/20), who kept the trend with a tidy first over. In his next two overs, he would get two wickets caught and bowled: one a more simple looping catch, and the other that was hit hard straight at his face (a good thing he got his hands in the way!). At the “other” end Leo replaced Umer and managed to bamboozle the opposition batsmen with his first few balls with some impressive flight. Sid brought himself back on for the penultimate over and claimed the wicket of the fast-scoring Injamal LBW to finish with figures of 1/23 from his four overs. Rez came back for the final over, conceding just six runs. The over ended with two more run outs in two balls (with the out batsman from the penultimate ball staying in the middle as runner, he was effectively dismissed twice in two balls!) as Badalona pushed for a few extra runs. They finished on a respectable 162/8 from their 20 overs.
The regular opening partnership of Sid and wicketkeeper Hamza Baig went out to bat and were immediately up with the rate required in the first few overs. Amazingly, Hamza managed not to edge it over the fence behind him throughout his entire innings. The two of them pushed up through the gears and were well ahead of the required run rate by the end of the six-over powerplay. The two gave no chances to the opposition bowling, with the only “reprieve” when Hamza was caught on a free-hit. They were helped by some erratic bowling by the Badalona bowlers, who sent down ten wides in the opening overs. Once the powerplay had finished, Sid and Hamza continued to push on, with three consecutive overs in double figures before eventually Hamza fell for a rapid 46 off 26 balls, caught attempting to hit another boundary. The opening partnership had put on 97 in just 9.2 overs and had really put Badalona on the back foot. Sid then offered up a chance but was fortunately dropped. Umer had came in at 3 and steadied the ship as the bowling got more accurate before he fell for nine in the fourteenth over. Nathan came in to bat, with just 32 runs needed from the remaining six overs. He played some elegant shots, most of which went straight to a fielder. Sid passed 50 to complete silence, because the scorer can’t count. He was bowled soon after for 54, bringing debutant Kevin Kitchin to the crease. After Nathan perfectly picked out mid-wicket, Damien McMullen came to the crease and he and Kevin saw off the last few runs to take BICC over the line for their first victory of this second edition of Slog Fest with nine balls to spare!
So BICC start this league the same way they ended the last one, with a victory. Everyone managed to contribute (some more than others!) and it was a good game played in good spirits.