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.
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!