Menorca's view of the weekend
See Saturday scorecard here
See Sunday scorecard here
Menorca v Barcelona International CC Saturday October 30th 2021
Barcelona very kindly filled the final weekend of the season at Biniparrell following a withdrawal by the scheduled side. Hopefully the last COVID affected fixture ever.
The Catalans arrived brimming with confidence following their unblemished record against the locals. Many of the 13 previous encounters going to the wire but Menorca unable to get over the winning line, the new look squad as their international name states very much a mix of antipodean, Asian and British players who've taken residency in the Catalan capital.
The game at one point looked unlikely to go ahead as there was rather a lot of precipitation around but a swift phone call to our very own man of the cloth Rev Strudwick resulted in divine intervention and following some sterling work by the players preparing the ground a reduced format T20 game got underway at 2pm.
The visitors won the toss and as one would expect opted to bat. The opening new ball partnership of Wilson and your correspondent gave nothing away first up conceding only 20 runs from the first 8 overs and taking 3 wickets to leave the visitors reeling. They never recovered with all the Menorca bowlers taking wickets at regular intervals Adam Lavin 3/3 bowled superbly as the Catalans were skittled for 70. Only chairman McMullen 25 with a score of note.
The locals made no mistakes chasing down the paltry total Lavin and Hagger scoring 32* and 35* respectively to give a long awaited 10 wicket thumping victory to the hosts.
An early finish most welcome in the chilly conditions, chairman Manners presiding over his final weekend in charge in fine form at the bar. The late afternoon BBQ prepared by our very own Michelin man Osterbery most welcomed by visitors and hosts alike. The natural ingredient dessert supplied by Wilson was well received too.
Sunday v Barcelona International CC 40/40
There was quite a contrast in the weather from Saturday to Sunday, the heavier tog gilets tucked away as the sun beat down for the final time at the home of Balearic Cricket.
Menorca batting first got off to a measured start before Dow was triggered for 3. Saturday evenings Jugged hare supper washed down with a fine vintage claret having a negative effect on the judgment of line and length. There were contributions in the teens from Catterall, Brayne, Dan Sullivan and Barker. Burns senior made 22 but it was Sunday skipper Roussel who excelled hitting 52 from 37 balls at the top of the order. Menorca posting a slightly underwhelming total of 158 from their final 40 overs of the season.
In reply the Barca boys found head baker Wilson in excellent form, he uprooted both openers in quick succession. Luke Burns showed great control despite his tender years, impressively conceding only 11 runs from his 4 overs. The youngster unlucky not to pick up a wicket too. Shane Lightley made 39 but Menorca continued to take regular wickets. Roussel 3/35 showing his prowess with the ball to cap off a fine individual performance on the day. McMullen was proving a nuisance with the bat and it seemed likely that he would get the visitors home. He fell for 70 in the 36th over leaving the last wicket pairing to get 9 from 3.3 overs.
Akter Husein bowled the antepenultimate over and conceded 3, John Chipperfield then stepped up to the plate 6 required by the visitors for victory, the second ball of the 38th over hoicked through midwicket for 4 by Kleparski leaving the Catalans needing 2 to win or 1 for a tie.
Chipperfield strained every sinew with his very next ball, finding a way under Kleparski’s bat to rattle the off stump and give Menorca what seemed like a very unlikely victory. The collective euphoria showing just how much this meant to the team and spectators alike.
A superb and fitting end to what´s been a testing half season both on and off the field. We look forward to brighter times ahead with a full calendar of fixtures in 2022.
A debt of gratitude to the volunteers who got us to the end of the season. You all know who you are.
Special thanks to our chairman Andrew Manners for over three decades at the helm. We wouldn´t be where we are today without your dedication, perseverance and guidance.
Menorca travel to Malta for the first time this weekend for an end of season tour. Match reports to follow providing your correspondent doesn’t get overly inebriated.
Jeff Barker - Menorca CC
See our weekend report here
See Saturday scorecard here
See Sunday scorecard here
Having managed to put together a huge 16-man squad last year, we were well on target for a similar number this year, until the unfortunate late drop-outs of captain Sid Tewari and vice-captain Stu Boyd. Combined with injury concerns over Sam Phillipps and James Smith, and three players (Nathan Blyth, Jack Jewson and Hamza Baig) having to leave early on Sunday morning, it suddenly left us going from having a selection headache to scraping together an eleven to play both days. With Sid’s drop out, it left just Sam and Umer Razi as the only two to have been on all seven BICC Menorca tours. James, Shane Lightley, Burhan Ejaz, Nial Evans, Seb Armstrong and Todd Fraser were all on their first tour with the club, with Nial set to make his BICC debut on the Saturday.
FRIDAY We arrived in dribs and drabs throughout the day, with some fortunate enough to not be working! The early arrivals of Nathan, Jack, Todd and Hamza left Oscar Kleparski working in the hotel and they set off to explore the island (a rarity for us!). In the evening we hit the ever-popular Rainbow Spice curry house in Mahón, before returning again to Latitude bar, with some heading on to the casino afterwards too.
SATURDAY With some grey clouds overhead and rain steadily falling in Mahón throughout the morning, there was real worry that we would face our first Menorca cancellation. Despite assurances that it wasn’t raining at the ground, there was a significant delay to Nathan’s first game as BICC captain. Eventually, there was a break in the weather allowing the hosts to do some groundwork before announcing the match would be shortened from 40 overs down to 20. Nathan won the toss and elected to bat, seemingly to the delight of the Menorcans. That delight would stand as BICC had one of their worst ever batting performances on the Balearic Island. With none of the top six batters getting into double figures it left us in dire straits on 36/8. A relatively strong 27-run partnership between Damien (25) and Seb (10*) helped us post an abysmal 70 all out, with the last wicket falling in the last over of the innings. A shoutout to Grant Wilson (2/11) and Adam Lavin (3/3) for really stifling us.
Despite the low score posted, there was some optimism that early wickets might get Menorca nervous, especially with our constant reminders of how they’ve failed to close out such games against us in the past! The wicket had been slow with the rainfall, but unfortunately for us the sun came out over the tea break and started to aide MCC. Seb and Burhan opened up for their first bowls on the island with both keeping it tight, but failing to make a breakthrough. When replaced, Umer too kept it tight from his end, but unfortunately Oscar had one of those overs you see on a blooper’s reel and the game suddenly got away from us. In just the tenth over, Menorca completed the chase with both openers finishing in the 30s (that man Lavin thwarting us again!).
With Menorca celebrating their first win against us in the modern era, we settled down in the clubhouse to watch the England vs Australia game from the T20 World Cup and used the nets whilst waiting for Dan Osterbery’s superb barbecue and music from Alex (and Shane ‘Gallagher’). Despite the result and weather earlier, it was a great evening.
SUNDAY We woke up to a much brighter day as clearly the weather gods were pleased with the cricket result from the day before. With three tourists heading home in the morning, and only Umair Iqbal to replace them, we looked set to be short on numbers for the second game. Up stepped James to save the day (just don’t tell his doctor) and our eleven took the field first, following the gentlemen’s agreement to swap it around from the day before. Sunday’s captain Umer decided to maintain the opening partnership of Seb and Burhan, with the latter finally picking up our first wicket of the tour following a great opening spell. They were replaced by Damien and Todd. Both picked up a wicket, with Damo getting MCC’s Sunday captain Nick Rousell out shortly after he passed 50. They were replaced by Sam and Umer who dried up the run rate somewhat whilst getting a wicket each. Oscar came on and silenced the armchair critics by bamboozling club captain Joe Brayne first ball. Seb and Burhan came back on and it was Burhan who go two further wickets to finish with impressive figures of 3/37. The final wicket, a runout by Oscar, fell off the last ball leaving BICC with a chasable target of 159.
Vice-captain and new arrival Umair opened up with the hungover Nial and neither hung around for very long. Shane came in at three and played a steady if aggressive role. Seb was promoted up the order but could only offer a cameo for 15 before Umer came and went cheaply. Shane and Damien shared a decent partnership before the former played a tired-looking shot and was caught for 39. Burhan also came and went quickly bringing Todd to the crease. Despite him only scoring 13 he shared a 56-run partnership with El Presidente who reached his first 50 in three years. Todd’s dismissal meant James avoided a TFC award but he also decided to avoid the ball as he got a golden duck award instead. At this point 21 more runs were needed with just two wickets left. Both teams knew the crucial wicket would be that of Damien – sadly for us he was bowled soon afterwards by captain Nick (3/35) for an apparent BICC best score of 70. He had left eight more runs for the final wicket to eke out, with the overs left not really a problem. Oscar managed to hit a single, followed by a two and we were getting perilously close to the target. He hit the dangerous John Chipperfield (3/20) for four and we were just two runs short of victory. BICC knew the script having won so many of these close games over the years, it almost seemed inevitable... but then off the next ball Oscar inside edged onto his stumps and the game was gone. Menorca rejoiced and Barcelona despaired. That ten-match winning streak over the years was well and truly gone.
Despite the strange feeling of losing twice in Menorca for the first time since 2015 (against Marylebone Cricket Club, no less) it had been another great weekend on the island. Perhaps buoyed by actually beating us for once (or perhaps it was the drink), there was talk of a preseason trip next spring. Here’s hoping we see each other again soon.
Our thanks to everyone at Menorca who helped organise the weekend, to the bar staff for not letting us go thirsty, to Dan for not letting us go hungry and to Grant for not letting us go sober. It was also the last weekend of long-standing MCC Chairman Andrew Manners’ reign, a mightily fine innings and one that probably deserved to end on a high note. We’ll be back to start a new winning streak soon!
See Menorca's alternative view of the weekend here