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!