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!
See scorecard here
Once again the toss was avoided as the tourists elected to bat first. Mohsin Nawaz was up once again and bowled a great line from ball one. Enzo Balke came on a the other end and also bowled beautifully not giving away an inch and bowling the bowl right on the spot. The first breakthrough came in Enzo's second over and he rattled the stumps of the opening batsman leaving them 1/10. Mosh picked up the second wicket in his third over cleaning up their other opener and they were 2 /15. Mosh and Enzo were given a rest in the heat after a great spell by both and Paolo Toffolo and Siddhartha Tewari took the reigns and also gave away nothing. Sid got a wicket in his first over, bowled, and the tourists were 3/33. Tidy bowling all round meant Moreton never had an easy shot and the run rate was kept quite low. Sid grabbed another in his third over bowled and they were 4/48 with their best bat, and captain, heading back to the pavillion. Umer Razi took over from Paolo and was immediately rewarded with a wicket with his first ball as Paolo picked up a catch. But Sid wasn't finished yet. He got two more, one caught by me and the other bowled as he collected four wickets for the match. Umer bowled another batsman and then again shortly after (which we called a no ball and brought the batsman back) Shayne Rotte got in on the action and grabbed a stumping with the help of Nadim Aseq A Arman and as I ran off to the loo Ted Richards snuck in for an over which left them with a total of 64.
Umer and Aamir Naseer opened the batting. The first to fall was Aamir and we were 1/6. Controversially Sid was promoted to number 3 he and Umer put on 20 more before Umer, after hitting a nice six, was bowled 11(7). That brought Rob Paterson to the crease. The battle for highest run scorer is hot and as Alex Wollauz waited patiently for his chance to push his total further ahead but was denied as no other wicket came. Sid and Rob collected the rest of the runs in 14.3 overs leaving Sid 26*(33) and Rob 38*(39) and that was that. We finished up with the usual banter and speeches and we have now three consecutive wins and momentum coming to the mid season break.
See scorecard here
* Touring side led by Phil Tompkins (of Moseley Ashfield CC, Birmingham), but just a scratch XI of friends.
The day was a little wet and humid and we skipped the toss as the opposition opted to bowl first and we opened with the sturdy duo of Umer Razi and Siddhartha Tewari who put on a 46 run opening stand before was out caught for a quickfire 24(16) which brought Alex to the crease. He and Sid then put on another 42 before Sid was caught behind for a solid 21(33). Meanwhile Alex was playing textbook cover drives and all sorts of good, aggressive shots. Ted Richards came in but wasn't lucky and was bowled for 2(3) Rollo Bennett added one more to the total before he too to was bowled.Rob's mate Abe then jumped in after a few years without a bat and Alex pulled up another 50 to put himself well in contention for highest run scorer this year. Abe managed some good shots until he was finally caught and bowled 20(22), by our very own Mohsin Ahmed Nawaz who had decided to play the villain for the day. Nirjon Hasan came in and then Alex was finally dismissed (Mosh again!) for a very healthy 54 (36). Rob Paterson hit a four and then the overs were up for our good total of 164.
We opened with Nirjon and Alex. Alex struck first luring the batsmen down the pitch to be stumped by the nimble Nadim Aseq A Arman. Sai Raja Gopal playing his last match bowled really well and gave nothing away. Rollo picked up their number three batsmen cleaned bowled. Sidd chipped in to remove the other opener and their top run maker also bowled. Ted got a rattle too and Sid got another with a catch from Umer. There were two runouts one by Umer and the other by Sid. I gave myself a bowl and snuck in two wickets in a row to clean up the tail. And that was that we bowled them over for 122. 42 runs short.
All in all a good game, a good laugh, and a good bunch of chaps. We sat down for our usual chinwag.
See scorecard here
We then travelled to our first game and from the outside, it looked like a nice stadium but inside, it was a dustbowl football pitch! We watched as the opposition rolled out the pitch and captain for the day Lee decided we would bowl first. Martin threatened us all about sliding in the new kit on the outfield which Chopper straight away ignored!!! The first few overs went pretty well until the opposition worked out that we were all still pissed from the night before. They then decided to dispatch us EVERYWHERE. Even the bloke outside of the stadium complained as he was getting fed up with chucking the ball back. Highlights of the bowling innings were… Nuts nearly snuffling up a filthy hat-trick (if only his hat-trick ball was on the strip)!! Chay showed us all that waiting 2 more over’s until lunch was just too long for him as he sniffed out the sarneys and had a face full when a catch came his way. The sandwich took priority so the catch went down, Jono’s one over getting more air time than any of Gary’s music and Chopper catching a ball that he seemed like he was running away from.
So, chasing 259 to win (in 25 overs!!) we knew the 10.4 run rate required may be quite tough! Highlights of the batting innings were 5 ducks (Mash……. Oh no sorry he didn’t play. Force of habit haha Nuts, Noj, Phil, Jono and Golden Lovejoy), the fact that we lasted 18.5 over’s for 86 and that Lee was told that Tour scores would count in year-end averages so got 31….. not out!! We were well and truly demolished but as it was a nice early finish, we headed back to the hotel for a dip in the pool.
Report from SLHCC
CERN travelled to play in Spain for the first time ever, in the beautiful grounds of the Hotel El Montanya, high in the mountains 60 kms from Barcelona. The cricket field was slightly larger than the well kept football field on which the mat was placed diagonally. On the first day, CERN played last year's Spanish League and Cup winners, Barcelona, and were made to toil in the hot sun as the ball raced regularly to the boundary. The fielders were able to find some shade whilst regularly looking for balls lost in the woods alongside the ground, as Ali hit 14 massive sixes in his innings of 134 not out. CERN lost more balls in a day than they would normally in a whole season! Barcelona eventually reached 280 all out off their 40 overs. CERN did well to keep them down to this score, especially as in the league play-off at the end of last season they had scored a massive 507 for 2 in 40 overs! In reply, CERN scored steadily, putting on 61 for the first wicket, but at the half way stage still had to score 190 in the remaining 20 overs. Off the next 10, only 44 were scored, by which time the match was beyond CERN's reach. The final score of 187 for 8 meant that CERN lost by 93 runs. Davenport was CERN's top scorer with 36, earning him the "Man of the match" award from the opposition, at the dinner in the evening.
Report by CERN CC http://cricket.web.cern.ch/cricket/1996/reports/960525.report.txt