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