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