Our 6th Menorca tour (feat. Mallorca)
See scorecard here vs Menorca
See scorecard here vs Mallorca
Following our cancelled tour in April (done for obvious reasons), BICC were champing at the bit to return to Menorca after somehow going two and a half years without a tour there. Despite having lost a couple of senior players in recent months, the club is seeing a real boost in numbers this season and managed to whip up a mega sixteen players to take the short trip across the Mediterranean. Of these sixteen, ten had never been on a BICC tour, one more hadn’t been to Menorca and two hadn’t even made their official debut for the club! Menorca ever-presents Sam Phillipps, Umer Razi and new captain Sid Tewari were back for their sixth tour on the island.
THURSDAY: Sid and Sam, joined by Hamza Baig, arrived on Thursday and quickly went to check out the ground and its beautiful grass. There they found new Menorca captain Joe Brayne and Jeff Barker preparing for the weekend’s games and were invited to join them, and a few other MCC players, that evening for a catch-up drink. The weekend had begun!
FRIDAY morning saw a further seven players arrive, all of them first-timers (Anish Shindore, Oscar Kleparski, Leo Viñola, Kevin Kitchin, Simon Eldridge, Nathan Blyth and Jack Jewson). After going for a burger lunch near our hotel, the ten of us headed to the ground for a look-around and a net practice, but only after the traditional photos and rolling around on the grass! Whilst there, the penultimate group of Umer Razi, Rez Hassan and Umair Iqbal arrived and briefly joined in the practice. With the sun setting, we headed back to the hotel (via picking up the final three arrivals of Damien McMullen, Stu Boyd and Tom Kynaston) to freshen up for dinner and get everyone checked in. Given the current situation, finding a place for dinner for a group of 16 can be difficult, but we were very lucky to find and completely book out a great restaurant in the town of Es Castell called Es Llenegall (highly recommended!). Upon returning to the hotel, some of the players took advantage of current restrictions to sit outside the hotel with a great view over the port, having one last night cap before bed.
SATURDAY morning, and finally time to play on Menorca’s hallowed turf! With us having such a large touring group, Menorca were kind enough to agree to a 12-aside match (12 batsmen, but just 11 fielders). The playing XI was Hamza (wk), Sid (C), Kevin, Umer, Damien, Stu, Anish, Rez, Oscar, Leo and Nathan, with Simon being the 12th player to bat at 3.
Menorca won the toss and decided to bat. Rez and Anish opened, and it wasn’t long before Anish got the first wicket of the game, dismissing Adam for a duck courtesy of a smart catch from Damien. Captain Sid had said that he was going to rotate the bowlers through short spells, and so after just three tidy overs each, he brought on Oscar and Stu. Oscar struggled a bit to find his line so, trying to find a breakthrough as the second wicket partnership started to build, Sid decided to bring himself on soon after, bowling in tandem with his vice-captain. A couple of overs later and Stu got that breakthrough, ex-MCC captain Simon giving the second opener Julian out LBW for a well-made 26. Batsman wasn’t happy, bowler was convinced it was plumb (in other news, water is wet). Despite this wicket, Stu was whipped out of the attack next over to allow Umer to come on from the Pavilion End. It proved to be a good swap as Umer got a wicket in his second over, dismissing Nick for 29 with another LBW. This brought about the halfway drinks break, with Menorca on 67/3 after 20 overs.
As they say, drinks bring wickets, and Menorca lost one the very first ball after the break. Opener Rez returned and immediately got Marcus to edge the ball to Nathan at slip with a good ball, and Nathan somehow managed to cling on to it! Unfortunately, BICC’s catching was to deteriorate somewhat over the next couple of overs, with Sid dropping a catch off the bowling of Umer, before Umer dropped one off the bowling of Rez, and then Rez dropped one from Leo’s first ball, after he had replaced Umer. Rez was then taken out of the attack and Damien was brought on to bowl some spin. His first over saw the batsman take a big hit out towards deep midwicket where Nathan was waiting for the ball, only for the fourth drop to go down in as many overs. The batsmen were living dangerously and offering chances and another wicket was only a matter of time. Luckily, the catching behind the wicket was up to scratch, and when Leo got Toby (36) to swing at a wild one, Hamza somehow held onto a relatively thick edge and the quick-scoring batsman was gone after a 54 run partnership. Despite this success, Leo became the second bowler to be taken out of the attack straight after a wicket with Nathan coming on for his first bowl. It turned out to be another stroke of genius (or sheer luck) from the captain, as he took a wicket first ball, the batsman picking out Mr Safe Hands Stu in the deep with accurate precision. Nathan would get a second wicket in his second over too, this time caught in the covers by Sid. Despite securing best-ever figures Nathan was taken out of the attack, with Sid and Stu returning to bowl together again. Stu then claimed two wickets in an over, as BICC looked to quickly clean up a very strong looking tail. He first knocked over the stumps, removing MCC stalwart Roy (24) before enticing the next batsman Grant to edge one straight up high, Stu claiming the catch off his own bowling. Rez replaced the wicketless Sid and quickly got his second wicket of the innings, Jeff caught by Umer. This brought the last batsman in, but confusion led to Joe being run out by Stu. BICC had bowled out MCC for 166 from 37.2 overs, with eight wickets falling in the 17.2 overs after drinks!
After a half an hour late lunch break, Sid and Hamza went out chasing a below-par score full of confidence. However, after a quick start, Sid was dismissed in the third over for seven, caught by the keeper having tickled the ball off his glove. Specialist batsman Simon came in and managed to build a strong foundation having recently come back from injury, playing like an old Ian Bell circa 2013 (or so he claims…). Hamza fell in the ninth over having scored 13, skying one well up into the air, only for it to fall into the keepers’ gloves. Kevin (1) came and went quickly, becoming the second victim for Grant. This brought Umer to the crease, the ‘enigmatic’ and ‘much maligned’ all-rounder (according to our hosts!). With two of the steadiest scorers in the club batting together, the required run rate rose for a while, although Umi was putting away the bad balls and Simon was able to swing his now fixed arms at a few balls as they played themselves in. That being said, both were giving opportunities, but it was Menorca’s time to put down catches and allow a big partnership to build. They managed to make it to the 20 over drinks break unscathed, with BICC on 64/3, still requiring a further 103 runs. Despite the rising run rate, we were confident with two set batsmen and some big hitters left in the shed yet to come.
At this point, Simon decided that it was time to accelerate, but having given a couple more opportunities that MCC failed to take, finally succumbed when charging up the wicket and being stumped for 18. In came President Damien with 81 more runs required from the remaining 14 overs. Umer too had moved up a gear, and offered another chance in the covers but was put down. With the batsmen having run a single, Damien was then caught at mid-on off the very next ball for a quickfire 12. This brought the dangerous (but tremendously ‘unwell’) Stu to the crease, with 68 now required from 12 overs. Umer offered one more difficult chance to a diving slip fielder, before reaching his fifty with a big six over long-on. By now, the chase was down to a run a ball and the ball was well in BICC’s court, even if next-man-in Anish couldn’t bare to watch Umer’s continued blocking! Stu and Umer calmly continued knocking off the runs, with the scores tied after Stu hit a massive six, and Umer called him through for a suicidal run in a definite attempt to get on strike to score the winning run. Stu turned down a single off the last ball of that over, before dismissing the first ball of the next for another massive six to win the game with 11 balls to spare. Stu finished on a quick 45* and Umer on a well-constructed 63*. BICC continued their unbeaten run over the Menorcans, stretching an unbelievable 11 games. MCC were left cursing their luck and wondering how we always end up on top in these usually tight games.
With the game finished, we hung around at the ground having a beer before heading to nearby Sant Lluis for a lovely, socially distant dinner with the usual speeches from Menorca’s Jeff and our captain Sid. Upon returning to Mahón after dinner, a few of the players headed into town for one last drink.
On SUNDAY, Menorca had invited their Balearic neighbours Mallorca to come play both us and them. With the clocks having gone back overnight, we headed to the ground for an 11am start in our first ever fixture against the Mallorcans. Sid again lost the toss and we were put in the field in this 20 over match. The playing XII was Jack (wk), Umair, Oscar, Kevin, Anish, Sid (c), Rez, Nathan, Hamza, Umer, Tom (bowling only) and Sam (batting if desperately required).
Rez and Anish opened again, with the pairs first overs both ending with a boundary following five dot balls (albeit with four byes in there too). The Mallorcan openers didn’t seem to want to run, with the first twenty runs all coming from fours! In his second over, Anish managed to dismiss both opener Mujahid Ali (bowled) and number 3 Tishan (caught at slip by Umair) in a double wicket maiden! Sid continued his system of rotating the bowlers and brought himself and debutant Tom on. Sid went for a four before the batsman finally scored a run by actually running! Off the next ball, Sid put down a sharp return catch off his own bowling. Two economical overs followed, Tom conceding just two from his first BICC over and Sid just one from his next. Then, in Tom’s second over, he got his first BICC wicket, claiming opener Stefan for 19 following a great catch from Oscar. Tom wouldn’t have to wait long for his second wicket, taking advantage a wide to claim Qais, again caught by Oscar, off the seventh ball of the over. Sid took Tom out of the attack, bringing on Umer, who was again economical in his first over. This left Mallorca struggling a bit on 44/4 at the halfway stage of the innings.
Tom returned from the other end, replacing the skipper, and managed to get himself a third wicket, Rez this time taking the catch at mid-off to dismiss Mallorca captain Wesley. Umer then got in on the act at the start of his third over, having Dev caught by debutant wicketkeeper Jack for his first BICC dismissal. Tom bowled out his fourth over to finish with impressive figures of 3/25, before he ran off to the airport to catch his flight, with Leo substituting for him in the field. Sid brought himself back for his final over and finally got a wicket with his last ball, bowling the fast-scoring Rizwan for 15. At this point, Sid brought back the opening bowlers to clean up the last wickets. Anish claimed the wicket of anchor Paul (26), before Rez claimed the last two wickets in three balls, first bowled before taking a good caught and bowled to end the innings. Mallorca had been dismissed for 105 from 18.3 overs. There were wickets for all five bowlers, but particularly impressive figures for Tom and Anish (3/10).
After a quick break, Jack and Umair opened the innings, chasing what seemed a low score for the second game in a row. The pair built a solid, if slow, start before Jack nicked to the keeper in the seventh over for ten (doing an absolute textbook ‘walk’ off in the process). Oscar came to the crease and tried to increase the scoring rate but fell for four, caught and bowled to Qais. This left BICC looking behind on just 31/2 at the halfway stage, needing another 64 to win.
Things went from bad to worse in the next couple of overs, as BICC then lost another wickets to be on just 44/4 after 12 overs. Kevin came in and was quickly run out from a good throw, running all the way to the boundary much to the amusement of the gathering Menorca fans. Anish then came in looking to try out his new bat, and was promptly bowled first ball. Sid came in next, with BICC needing to up their scoring rate, and he and Umair did that in a needed quick 30-run partnership. Sid was bowled attempting a big shot, but he’d done a job and inputted some momentum into the scoring. Rez came in and offered much of the same, rotating the strike well with the accelerating Umair. Rez was caught in the deep for 11, having perfectly picked out long-on. This brought Nathan to the crease, with BICC now seemingly on top but frequent wickets making things tense on the boundary. Just four were needed from the final over, with opener Umair on strike needing four for a maiden club fifty. First ball, dot. No problem. Second ball, wicket! Umair had edged through to the keeper and had to go. In came Hamza, batting well down the order and he hit a two off his first ball. Two to win, three balls left. The pair then scampered a single off the next ball. (Some) relief, scores were tied, with Nathan now on strike. The two batsmen met and presumably discussed tactics. Nathan missed the ball, and the keeper gathered it cleanly, but was unable to hit the stumps as Hamza sprinted to the other end, both batsmen making their ground, meaning BICC had won the game from the penultimate ball of the over! Once again, we’d made it far more complicated than seemed possible at the change of innings, but we had won our first game against Mallorca.
That afternoon, Mallorca were playing Menorca in another T20 match in front of a good crowd of 30 or so picnickers. We ordered pizza and sat down to watch as Mallorca comfortably beat Menorca, batting more aggressively in this match, and thus setting them a target that was out of their reach. A last beer or two were consumed after the match with promises that we’ll be back soon for tour number seven. Our thanks again to Menorca for having us over once more and organising a great tour in difficult circumstances, even though they haven’t been able to play much this year. It was nice meeting Mallorca CC on the Sunday too, I’m sure it won’t be the last time that our two teams meet. Assuming new restrictions allow, we’ll be back playing on our less green ground in a couple of weeks, daydreaming in the outfield of having a pavilion, a bar, and spectators!
Check out the highlights from the game versus Mallorca here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEHxaDVnC4I&ab&ab_channel=BarcelonaInternationalCricketClub
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