With the disappointment of this year’s Balearic Cup consigned to the history books, social media pages, WhatsApp groups and the Cricket Espana app, Barcelona International made the short trip across from the mainland to provide this weekend’s opposition, stepping in at short notice for BAC XI who unfortunately had to cancel their tour.
Skipper Dan Sullivan’s good run with the coin continued, the home side to electing have a bat on an unseasonably warm day at Biniparell and it looked like that decision would be fully justified as opening combo Julian Hagger and Ali Mujahid set about the bowling attack.
Hagger, whose runs with the bat was one of the few highlights from the Balearic Cup, continued his recent rich vein of form bringing up his 50 from 44 balls whilst opening partner Ali achieved the same feat from 61 balls, the BICC bowlers wilting in the heat with the 100 partnership coming in just the 17th over, Nawaz, Bhosale, Ejaz, Sheik and Maduranga toiling for no reward.
Even the introduction of the skipper himself could do nothing to stem the tide of runs flowing from the MCC batters as they marched to a 200 run partnership without loss in the 31st over until a tired shot from Hagger ballooned in the air for Razi to snaffle, departing for 108 and his third century of the season.
Ali soon followed but under his own steam, retiring on 110 leaving Sullivan and the big hitting Pavan Narella to contribute 46 further runs with special mention to Geer Zhao, Menorca’s female representative for this game, who defended stoutly with both bat and body as she picked up her first run for the club and finishing not out. Menorca posting 276 from their 40 overs.
Menorca knew they would be in for a game when Cotton’s 3rd ball of his opening over disappeared over the dry stone wall for 6 and despite Wilson picking up Shaikh for 11, the home side couldn’t find the right length to bowl as honorary Barcelonian for the weekend, Peter Lucas and Panabokke plundered 83 from the first 8 overs, Cotton exacting some sort of revenge by clean bowling the latter for 46.
Lucas carried on his merry way, ably supported by Maduranga (29) and Razi, who was eventually but superbly caught on the long off boundary by Bill Johnson for 49.
Due to the blistering start run rate was rarely an issue for BICC, it was clear that Menorca needed wickets and they were picking them up at regular intervals thanks to some canny bowling from Johnson and Nazim, who accounted for Lucas for an impressive 72, and finish with 3-45.
When the 7th wicket fell with the score at 227, the visitors still needed another 50 runs and the home side felt the game was as good as won. Ejaz (21*) and Nawaz (28*) had other ideas as the two lower order batters sent the ball to all parts of the ground to see the visitors complete the run chase from the penultimate ball of the game and win by 2 wickets.
Sunday saw the turn of Barcelona to bat first, once again the ground bathed in glorious sunshine amidst barmy May temperatures.
A couple of changes to the visiting team saw Sam Phillipps open the batting with Maroof Shaikh but his stint at the crease was shorter than the flight over as Richard Grant had him caught behind for 3 for the first of his two wickets of the afternoon.
Menorca bowled with much more control than the previous day and Pavan picked up a further couple courtesy of the umpire’s finger as both Maroof (23) and Dan (0) were trapped LBW.
Bhosale was the only BICC batter to register a score of note, before a superb catch off his own bowling from Markus Dow sent him packing for 41 whilst yesterday’s match winning pair of Ejaz and Nawaz continued their good weekend with 29 each before Panabokke coming in at Number 10 found the boundary for 3 maximums in his brisk 39 before Dow had him caught behind for his 2nd wicket of the day.
BICC 213 all out - R. Grant 2-32, M. Dow 2-27, P. Narella 2-29.
Menorca knew that a solid opening partnership would be key to chasing down the target and you don’t get much more solid than Dan Sullivan and Markus Dow who set about the task with aplomb. The pair rotated strike with ease picking up vital 1’s and 2’s and taking advantage of any bad ball to send it to the boundary line for 4.
Razi came into the attack to try and break the opening salvo and did just that when Dow was adjudged to be LBW, 2 runs short of what would have been a well deserved 50.
Nazim and Grant both got starts but failed to capitalise reaching 13 and 10 respectively and there was much discussion about who managed to record their 50 first as the huge hitting Narella went toe to toe with the BICC attack as he caught Sullivan up in the scoring stakes.
A double bat raise seemed the most apt way to acknowledge their achievements as they passed the 213 required to win by 7 wickets in the 39th over. Dan Sullivan carried his bat for 67* and Pavan accredited with 50*. Razi the only bowler to trouble stand in scorer Goochie with 3-34.
The weekend finished with the cricketing spoils shared, a close win to each team in two fantastic games as always played in the best of spirits. Although it was sad not to see BAC XI able to fulfil the fixture, we always look forward to the friendly rivalry we enjoy with Barcelona especially since we broke the losing streak last year!
All things being well, Jeff will be back in action next weekend to take over reporting duties once again.
Julian Hagger (Menorca CC)