See Scorecard (or at least, see the first innings and some vague details from the second!)
We travelled to Vidreres for the first time to play a new opponent, one of the Over-40’s “franchises”, Catalunya Green in a T20 friendly. Despite having lost one player to a no-show in the morning, we went with 12 players, having been told we’d play 12 a-side. Amongst those 12 were two debutants, Ankita Rane (our second ever female player), and Michael Dorgan (our first ever Serbian international)!
Umer Razi won the toss and we batted first. Sadly there wasn’t much positivity to write about in our batting innings, with only one player getting past 7 (even extras wasn’t its usual help!). Coming in at 3, Ravi Maduranga scored his maiden BICC 50 at just over a run a ball, finishing on 59*. We finished on a below-par 94/6 from our 20 overs.
With a couple of big hitters up the order, something we were sadly missing yesterday, Green made light work of the chase. Despite the quick chase, there were first BICC wickets for both Hesh Rukunayake and Michael, and Bill Brooks got two in two balls before his hattrick ball landed just out of reach of the cover fielder. With the chase done, we bowled a few more overs before shaking hands and calling it a day.
Another game that moved venue last minute (this time sort of at our request!) as we made our debut at the Vic “Old” ground (aka the baseball ground), instead of Vidreres. It was a curious ground, with the pitch laid out between second and third bases, meaning a very short boundary behind the wicket. To counter this, one of the dugouts and an area behind the fence were bizarrely included in the playing area. More on that later…
We scraped together an eleven and drove up for the afternoon start (a nice change from the early morning starts). With the opposition turning up late (a nice change from us turning up late), we were awarded the toss and Umer Razi chose to bat first. Well aware that this ground was much less of a run fest than its neighbour (the “new” ground), the skipper opened up with Umair Iqbal. This left Maroof Shaikh and Jack Jewson, who had shared a century opening stand in the last game, in the dugout and much cursing of the captain and his clearly very selfish ways. Fortunately, they gave us a decent start, with Umair surviving a couple of dropped catches. Umer even managed to hit the ball into the dugout, leading to a scramble to find the ball amongst the bags as the batters lazily and somewhat uncomfortably ran four. Shortly after, both were dismissed in the space of three balls after a couple of bad shots. Maroof came to the middle first, followed by Ravindu Maduranga. Another decent partnership was formed, and we were keeping up a decent run rate given the extremely long grass in most of the outfield and the fact that Maroof seemed to pick out short mid-off from half the balls he faced. After Ravi was caught behind, Shane came to the middle and struggled to get going at first before finally finding the middle with an aggressive stroke. “Shot!”, cried Nathan Blyth from the sidelines, as the ball nestled into mid-on’s hands. Shriram Bhosale was promoted up the order as a pinch-hitter and we took the batting powerplay at the end of the over. There were some big shots, that all got caught in the grass, before Shriram was bowled from the penultimate ball of the powerplay. Maroof’s (22) lengthy stay came to an end shortly after and Jack came and went, before a mini partnership between Nathan and Burhan Ejaz as we tried to make sure we batted the overs. That looked less likely when Nathan and Agni Sikdar fell to consecutive balls. Despite yours truly seeing off the hattrick ball and some clever running we were all out nine balls short of the end of the innings for 137, Burhan the last to fall.
A total that was perhaps a bit below par, but with the opposition also yet to record a victory this season, we had high hopes of defending it. Umer rang the changes in the first few overs, with Burhan, himself, Shriram and Ravindu sharing the new ball through the crucial first six overs of powerplay. Ravi picked up three early wickets, one in each of his first three overs (their top three, no less), to get the ball rolling. The skipper got in on the act soon after, before Maroof, the “best bowler in the league” did his party trick of taking a wicket with his second ball. At the halfway drinks break, the game was right in the balance at 84/5, with the Warriors seemingly heavily dependent on their number 6, Harjot Singh. Ravi got a fourth wicket with his last over before the seventh wicket partnership seemed to be taking the game away. Shriram came on with just ten runs needed to win but got the wicket of the dangerman Singh with his first ball. Suddenly our spirits were lifted and optimism returned - and that only increased when, three balls (and three precious runs) later he got another. Burhan was given the next over, two wickets or seven runs needed. Just like Shriram, he got a wicket first ball and numbers 10 and 11 were at the crease. With the Warriors clearly desperate to keep the last man off strike, they attempted a second run which was never on, and despite a slightly high throw from Maroof in the deep, Burhan removed the bails at the bowler’s end to complete the run out which won us the game! A first league win of the season by just four runs, thanks to some much better fielding than last time out keeping the pressure on from some more solid bowling (and, remember those four runs we scored having it into the dugout....!). Hopefully it’s a catalyst to better performances and more victories - the post-match beer (or air, for our still fasting Muslim brothers) tasted all the sweeter this time!
A few of us reconvened later for Iftar - breaking fast with a curry in Barceloneta. Here’s to more post-win curries!
We arrived in Vic with March’s incredible cold snap still in full flow, the car thermometer reading 0º and some frost still lingering in the shade! Unlike our game against Botany Bay last week, at least the sun was out. With one car arriving at the ground late, we forfeited the toss and were put in the field - not exactly what you want in such cold conditions.
The first innings was littered with far too many dropped catches to be able to remember when they took place, but we estimated on the way home that each of their top four batters were dropped at least twice each as all passed 50, Manish Manwani really punishing us for his second consecutive century against us. Raval got off to a quick start against Burhan Ejaz and the returning Rez Hassan before Ravindu Maduranga was brought into the attack early, his first three overs going for just six runs. Seeing that his spin was slowing the oppo down, Umer Razi brought himself on and and finally made a breakthrough in his second, and the game’s 12th, over as Ravi took a good catch in the deep despite being blinded by the sun - breaking the 100 run partnership that C Patel (54) and the dismissed Datta (52) had formed. Burhan came back into the attack for another two over spell, but it was his replacement Edward Spencer-Phillips that got our second wicket with his second ball, getting Patel LBW. Unfortunately for us the run rate shot up from there, despite Umer chopping and changing the bowlers, as I Patel and Manwani repeatedly found the boundary. Their devastating 8.2 over partnership put on 122 runs - their efforts combined with some sudden cloud cover making fielding less and less enjoyable. Ravi finally and deservedly picked up the wicket of Patel (80) caught by Burhan. Another 50 run partnership later and Manwani (101) became the third Raval player to be dismissed immediately after a personal landmark, Burhan claiming his wicket in his third two over spell of the innings. Rez managed to put some life into his figures by getting two wickets from the last two balls of the innings, both brilliantly stumped by Jack Jewson standing up to the stumps. Raval finished on 332/6, some 25 runs shy of the record score they got against us last year!
After a quick turnaround, and with the sun back out, Maroof and Jack - our two highest scorers against Raval last year - opened the batting. Together they put on a fantastic 107 run partnership with things neck and neck with where Raval had been in their innings. Sadly, Jack (45) was bowled and two overs later Maroof (45) was caught. Umer followed them back to the hutch in another two overs, and from then our run rate fell somewhat. When Nathan was also caught, another batting collapse had seen us go from 107/0 to 157/5. Ravi (30) and Damien McMullen (26) put up some defense and played some great shots but with the required run rate now rocketing we were effectively out of the game. Their 54 run partnership was ended as first Ravi, then Damien, fell in the same over to Das. A quiet couple of final overs followed before Das again struck twice in the last over, to claim a 4fer. A shoutout to Ishan Patel for adding a 3fer to his 80 from the first innings.
We finished 112 runs short, rueing giving Raval’s top four so many chances. Had we taken even half of them, who knows how this game would’ve ended up - but hats off to Raval for taking advantage. Manwani took a nasty blow to the eye whilst fielding and was forced to leave the ground, we’re assured he’s ok and we hope there’s no long-lasting damage (even if he does love batting against us!). Our next game is in three weeks, our first game in Vidreres against the unknown team of Punjab Warriors.
After three years without welcoming a foreign touring side, Botany Bay CC came to visit, coincidentally from the same league as our previous visitors in 2019, Redbourn! With the Catalan Federation having denied our request for a free weekend with no league game, we were faced with the tricky task of three games in two days! The 18-strong group (with 12 players) arrived to a Barcelona that had been grey, wet and chilly for a couple of weeks, hoping that the games would be able to go ahead.
Having managed to miss the train to Vic (along with yours truly!) our game got underway about an hour late and was reduced slightly to 35 overs. Under overcast skies threatening rain later in the day, Umer Razi won the toss and chose to bat. Nial Evans and Umair Iqbal opened although the former didn’t last long, given LBW by his own teammate. Umer (37) joined Umair (48) at the crease and the two shared a 105-run partnership before both fell in quick succession. Not too long after another two wickets fell quickly: Nathan Blyth was impressively run out by Harris and Todd Fraser was lbw to leave us 169/5. Burhan Ejaz and Maroof Shaikh (32) shared a mini partnership to get us close to 200 before they and the tail collapsed, from 195/5 to 201 all out, 14 balls short of the end of the innings. BBCC had bowled all 11 players, with seven of them picking up wickets.
After a delicious (and far too quick for my liking) biryani and samosa lunch we headed into the field with a few raindrops already starting to fall. Todd and James Smith opened the bowling and it wasn’t long until Todd picked up a wicket, thanks to a brilliant stumping from Ravindu Maduranga standing up to the stumps. The next wicket was another great piece of fielding, this time a run out from Maroof. Todd picked up another wicket, bowling the other opener Anderson (31), before being taken out of the attack. Todd and James were replaced by Sam ‘Tour Craig’ Phillipps and Aragon’s greatest ever leg spinner, Leandro Español. Despite some tight bowling, it wasn’t until his last over that Sam removed the dangerous Harris two runs short of his 50, caught by his fellow jug-avoider Umair. In the same over Maroof managed to get another run out, leaving Botany Bay on 123/5 after 20 overs. Drinks were then taken with Ravi ditching the gloves in order to come on to bowl alongside Umer. Ravi picked up a wicket in his second over before a partnership formed between Marchant (30*) and Penn (32). Although Burhan ran Penn out towards the end, it wasn’t enough and the visitors scraped through with two wickes left, in what we had been told was the final over (but seems to have only been the 33rd!). Despite getting a bit damp and cold, it had been a fantastic game that (hadn’t quite) gone down to the wire. We returned to Barcelona for a quick change and shower before reuniting for dinner, followed by a hunt to find a bar that would fit 20 people in. In the end, the last stragglers got home at 7am!
Given that late night, it was probably lucky that our game on Sunday wasn’t due to start until 6:15. BICC were returning to play at the Olympic baseball ground in Montjuïc after about a decade without playing there. There were debuts for Anton Kritzinger and Henry Hawkes, as well as competitive returns to the club for Bill Brooks and our only ever Catalan player, Roger Pons again after about ten years each. Given Leandro Español’s presence in the 12-man team, it saw us field two Spanish players for the first time in our history. With us having forgotten to bring stumps, it was probably also the first time we’d played a game with a concrete slab/ bin as the stumps…!
First-time captain Umair (eventually) won the toss and we were to bat first. Mohsin Nawaz and Nial Neil Nigel Dave Evans opened the batting, and got us off to a decent start before Mohsin fell in the sixth over. Rez Hassan came to the crease, and after playing himself in a bit decided to dispatch the ball to all parts with all his 30 runs coming in boundaries (six 4s and a 6). During this onslaught, ‘Dave’ had been dismissed with Jon Wong replacing him. He did make Rez run, whilst also making 30. Debutant Henry showed promise with a big 6 but could only manage 11, Bill was brilliantly run out for 1, Roger (apparently) scored his first ever BICC run and our second debutant Anton (32) started smashing the ball around the darkening ground having come in down the order. We finished with a seemingly competitive score of 184 from our 20 overs.
The lights had come on during the change of innings, which was probably a good thing given that Mohsin and Rez were opening the bowling. The English openers struggled to get bat on ball as they conceded just 20 from the first six overs, with Mohsin bowling Anderson and Mullen, and stand in keeper ‘Dave’ sneakily running out Hancocks from behind the stumps. Bill and Anton bowled the next four overs with Mardon taking something of a liking to both of them as BBCC caught up a bit with the runrate. 84/3 at the halfway point, with 102 needed to win, ‘Tour Craig’ and Leandro bowled the next four, with Leandro getting Mardon stumped the ball after he’d reached his 50, some great work by ‘Dave’ to remove the bails hit the bin. Unfortunately for us this brought Saturday’s top scorer Harris to the crease, and he wasn’t to miss out on a personal landmark again. The pink ball disappeared over our heads once again as he made 83*. Mohsin and Rez returned to bowl the final two overs with 15 needed to win and, although Mohsin picked up a third wicket, it made no difference as Harris dispatched the penultimate ball of the match for six. Two very close games that had both ultimately gone the way of the visitors. After a team photo and Botany gifting us a signed shirt of theirs, we retired to the bar for a final drink or two.
Overall, it was great to be able to welcome a touring team again and to play two great, close games both in fantastic spirit despite some hiccups (the weather, the ground, the stumps). We’d happily have them back, and who knows, maybe we’ll even visit them one day!
After a narrow defeat in the rain on Saturday, BICC had two fixtures on Sunday. The first of these was a league match in Empuriabrava against local rivals Men in Blue. Unlike the day before in Vic, the sun was out and there was grass on the outfield.
After arriving just in the nick of time, captain Umer Razi jumped straight out of the car and ran to the middle for the toss. We were to bowl first.
After a wayward start, the opening pair of Shriram and Burhan started hitting a good length and putting pressure on the batsmen. The openers, however, weren't looking to hang around and got Men in Blue off to a quick start. They had 37 runs on the board when Burhan made the first breakthrough, with Agni taking a sharp catch at the end of the fourth over. Another 30 runs were added in quick time before Burhan struck again. After six overs, the score was 67-2.
BICC toiled away for the next few overs, but the runs kept flowing and it wasn't until the the 15th over the skipper Umi removed Men in Blue's big-hitting number 4 - trapping him LBW for 35.
This was the turning point, and from there the wickets started to fall much more quickly. Todd bowled a lively spell and was rewarded with two wickets, and Ravi kept things very tight in his six overs, finishing with figures of 1-28. Burhan took another three wickets to take his first five-for for the club!
Maroof was brought on to bowl the 28th over, and after a loosener which was given as a wide, he picked the last wicket with his first legal delivery, to finish the game with figures of 1-1. Men in Blue were all out for 205. Overall it was a good fielding performance from BICC, with fine catches from Damo and Umer as well as some body-on-the-line fielding from Bruce.
Maroof and Ravi opened the batting for BICC and they started cautiously against the Men in Blue openers, who were making the most of the uneven bounce that was coming from the artificial pitch. In the third over, Ravi was out caught trying to take on the short ball and Umer joined Maroof at the crease. These two settled in nicely and were playing the bowlers very well and finding runs when there was a bad ball. It wasn't until the 9th over that Maroof was out caught.
Nathan was in at number four and he and Umi safely navigated the team to drinks. Unfortunately the break didn't serve Nathan very well and the second ball after drinks he played all round a straight skiddy ball and was clean bowled.
Jack and Umer played a few nice shots in the next few overs, but the slow outfield was not providing much value for shots along the ground. Eventually Jack fell for 7 to leave us at 57-4 after 14 overs. Once Umer went a couple of balls laters, BICC started an England-esque collapse and lost the last six wickets for 18 runs and were bowled out for 75 runs after 21 overs.
It was a disappointing batting performance, with only Maroof and Umer making it to double figures, but credit must also go to the Men In Blue bowlers, who bowled with good pace and accuracy and made scoring runs very hard. Next week's league game in Vic against Raval Sporting means there's not long a long wait until we get a chance to get the first victory of the season on the board!
For the second year running, our first game of the season changed grounds at the last minute, although at least this time it was just 100 metres across the Vic playing fields! With the sun barely over the hilly horizon, captain Umer Razi won the toss and, much to the annoyance of his sleepy and chilly team, chose to bowl first. Our opponents Ali Youngster CC, losing finalists in last year’s 30 over competition, featured former BICC player Tanzeer Mohammad. We had three players making their first league appearance: recent recruits Nial Evans and Ravindu Maduranga as well as club president Sam Phillipps.
Birthday-boy Burhan Ejaz opened the bowling with Tommy Creagh, a seam/ spin combo. With fielding restrictions for the first six overs, the pair couldn’t keep the run rate down and they finished the powerplay on 53/0. An over later, and there was a double change in the bowling with Ravindu and Shriram Bhosale coming in to the attack. There was finally a breakthrough in Ravi’s second over as he dismissed captain Basharat (55) with a tricky high caught and bowled taken at a wide, short mid-on. Two overs later, Ravi claimed the other opener LBW. After Shriram got a deserved wicket in the fifteenth over, Ali Youngster were 128/3 (a much better score than last time we played in Vic…!). The runs had dried up a bit since Ravi’s second wicket and he was replaced after the drinks break by Sam with Shriram continuing. A five over spell together saw a couple of chances go begging but the run rate remained lower than would be expected. With the batting team taking their three over mid-innings powerplay, Ravi came back on for his final two overs along with the skipper, with both taking wickets in the first overs of their spells. Ravi (3/58) was replaced by Damien McMullen’s medium pacers as Umer continued, with the Pakistani picking up a wicket in each of his three overs of the spell. Damien too picked up a wicket (although the umpires claimed that Maroof’s stumping was in fact a run out!) as Ali Youngster collapsed from 172/3 to 226/8. Unfortunately for us, that ninth wicket partnership put on 52 unbeaten, mainly helped by Arslan Mohammed’s own 51*. We would have 279 to chase down after the break, but we went in buoyed by an improvement compared to our last league game there. A shoutout to Maroof Shaikh for doing a good job filling in behind the stumps, and to Ravi for his three-fer and two catches, plus two drops no one else on the pitch would have got anywhere near (and for escaping with most of his skin intact).
Maroof and Nial opened for us but couldn’t quite get us off to the start that we wanted. Both fell in the fifth over bringing Ravi and Nathan Blyth to the crease. Whilst there were a couple of profitable overs between the two, Nathan was dismissed caught trying to keep that momentum going. Ravi was joined by Damien and the pair enjoyed the third 30ish run partnership of the innings. Sadly we then endured a middle order collapse similar to Ali’s in the first innings, as Damien, Ravi (41), Umer, Tommy and Shriram fell in a five over spell, the last two dismissed by our ex-player Tanzeer who was inevitably in the wickets. This left us 130/8 just after the halfway mark. Now at the crease were Burhan and James Smith who combined for an incredible partnership, frustrating the bowlers who had sensed they were close to victory. Despite some great shots by both batters, perhaps the most incredible part of their partnership was the 20th over, with fifteen balls bowled by three bowlers, after the first two had to be removed from the attack for bowling high no-balls. As the two progressed, some hope started to trickle into the nine watching from the boundary although time was definitely against us. Burhan was trying to up the scoring rate but he was dismissed for a very well made 37 and with him gone any chance of a shock upset was gone, but the 76 run partnership had at least gotten us closer than looked possible. The newly re-injured Sam hobbled out to the middle only to have to hobble back three balls later (his first BICC dismissal in 1275 days, he’ll have you know!) and the game was done.
We had fallen 71 runs short but there were some promising displays against one of the strongest teams from last season. With the sun now firmly beating down on Vic, most of us headed to the train station for a drink before heading back (although a few stayed on longer enjoying the city’s main square throughout the afternoon). Our next game is in two weeks against another new opposition, King Empuriabrava CC, at their home ground. Onwards and upwards!
A 16-strong group of players (plus a supporter!) drove down to Alfas on Friday, with the jokes and banter flowing from the start despite us going in five cars. Although he captained in last year’s trip to Menorca, it was Umer Razi’s first tour as official club captain, and indeed his first game since becoming captain in December. We were due to play against Sporting Alfas on Saturday before being joined by La Manga Torrevieja on Sunday for a T10 triangular tournament. BICC hadn’t faced either team for at least a decade, meaning they were new opponents for all of our squad. However, one of the Alfas players (Carlos Parkin) had faced us in the first meeting between the clubs back in 1996! Ravi Maduranga (Saturday), Hesh Rukunayake and Agni Sikdar (both Sunday) were all set for their BICC debuts.
Having all set off at different times from Barcelona, we met up at a colonial themed restaurant (perfect for our mixed nationality bunch…) up the coast in Altea for dinner, before heading back to base in Albir to sample a few of the local beverages.
Umer lost his first toss as full-time captain and we were put in the field. Despite the economical efforts of opening bowlers Shriram Bhosale and Burhan Ejaz, Alfas got off to a solid start. After six overs, they were replaced by Anish Shindore and Nathan Blyth (much to the surprise of everybody). The Nathan experiment lasted just two overs before he was replaced by debutant Ravi. Anish then picked up the first wicket of the game, removing Crompton just four runs short of his 50 caught and bowled to leave the hosts 70/1. As dangerous as he had been, the wicket simply brought the current national team captain, Muñoz, to the crease. He got off the mark with a huge six off Ravi, before he picked up his first BICC wicket removing the other opener, SACC captain Pennick. Anish was then taken out of the attack to be replaced by Maroof Shaikh, who was also difficult to get away. In his third over, he bowled Muñoz (30) and the three current or former international players were out with Alfas now on 113/3 just past the midway point of the innings. From this point on, the wickets fell much quicker and more cheaply. Ravi (2/24) picked up his second before the skipper (2/3) brought himself on for a successful three over spell. Anish (2/17), Shriram (removing Parkin for a well made 31) and Burhan came back on and picked up a much-deserved wicket each. Jack Jewson also gets a well-deserved shout out for three catches behind the stumps too. Alfas had an England-style collapse, going from 113/2 to 145/9 as their innings ended with no one outside the top four scoring more than two runs.
After a quick break, Maroof and Umair Iqbal went out to open. With the (ahem, significant) help of Mr Extras, they got us off to great start, sharing 46 runs before Umair gave second slip some catching practice. Captain Umer came and went to his first (legal) ball and Nathan didn’t last much longer before controversially being given out LBW by his own teammate. Suddenly we were 51/3 with the middle order rushing to get their pads on. Ravi came in at 5 and joined the calming presence of Maroof. They shared the highest partnership of the day, 74 runs, before Maroof fell for 41 trying to go up a gear with the game all but in the bag. Jack fell cheaply to a less contested LBW. Off the penultimate ball Ravi (48*) and Nial Evans (making a fine 0* from his one ball) managed to run four byes, which probably cost the Sri Lankan a debut 50! BICC won the game by five wickets with eleven overs to spare!
Alfas captain Pennick had half of both teams doing push-ups after the game as punishment for ducks or dropped catches, before BICC player of the match Ravi got a good introduction to Western European culture with a race involving downing a pint, spinning around a bat and a race against Alfas’ player of the match! After a couple of (calmer) drinks with the opposition at their clubhouse, we headed into town for a curry (and another drink or two).
On Sunday we headed back to the ground ready for our first ever T10 matches. Umer won the toss and we chose to bat first, looking to set a challenging total against a team already well versed in 10 over games. Having lost Jack early on, Shriram (29*) and Umair (25) put on 74 for the second wicket aided by 20 wides (each wide was worth two runs, but not bowled again). Umair was dismissed with two balls of the innings left. The most incredible part of the innings was the final ball when five runs were scored following some chaotic fielding and panicked running! Thanks to that, BICC finished on a respectable 81/2.
From very early on, it was clear that SACC opener Brown wasn’t going to hang about. He hit four boundaries in Hesh’s first over for the club to get the hosts well ahead of the rate. From then on, none of the other bowlers took major punishment but everyone also failed to get that crucial breakthrough until James Smith picked up a wicket (the wrong wicket!) of the other opener in the sixth over. Unfortunately this merely brought Bilal to the wicket for a cameo 10* off five balls, with the chase completed by Brown (49*) hitting a high no ball for four - James’ accidental no ball costing him a chance of his personal landmark. SACC won the first of the round robin games by nine wickets with 13 balls to spare.
The second game of the tournament was us against La Manga, who had arrived during the first game. We were well aware of their prowess, having watched them play in the Spanish championship final last year in Barcelona. Umer again won the toss but chose to bowl first this time. Leg spinner Ravi, having been first change in the first game, was asked to open and was miserly, conceding just five runs in his two overs. Sadly for yours truly, that just meant that they attacked the bowler at the other end! Alger (20 off 11) was (crocodile) caught well by Shane Lightley off the bowling of Burhan (1/9) in the fifth over, Tedder came in briefly but soon had to retire hurt. Hesh made up for his expensive first over with two cheap overs, aided by cheap overs from Umer and Shriram too. No more wickets but LMTCC could only manage 62/1 from their ten overs. Having comfortably beaten that score in the first game, we fancied our chances of a first T10 win.
Ravi also opened the batting alongside Crocodile Shane. Despite a couple of good shots, Shane was struggling to consistently get bat on ball and was eventually bowled. Umer came in next and together with Ravi batted cleverly, keeping us up with the run rate. It was largely without risk, until off their best bowler’s last ball Ravi (26) went for a big shot and was caught. AIded by some quick running, and a couple of byes to the keeper, Nathan and Umer (21*) completed the chase with a ball to spare. BICC won by eight wickets!
In the final game of the tournament, with most of us already headed back to Barcelona, LMTCC beat the locals, meaning the tournament ended with each team winning one game each (La Manga officially winning the tournament on net run rate!). It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day and weekend, great to meet two “new” teams and visit the beautiful ground that Sporting Alfas have. I’m sure we’ll be back before a decade is up, and hopefully down the coast to La Manga too! Thanks to all involved for inviting us and organising.
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
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.