For the second year running, our first game of the season changed grounds at the last minute, although at least this time it was just 100 metres across the Vic playing fields! With the sun barely over the hilly horizon, captain Umer Razi won the toss and, much to the annoyance of his sleepy and chilly team, chose to bowl first. Our opponents Ali Youngster CC, losing finalists in last year’s 30 over competition, featured former BICC player Tanzeer Mohammad. We had three players making their first league appearance: recent recruits Nial Evans and Ravindu Maduranga as well as club president Sam Phillipps.
Birthday-boy Burhan Ejaz opened the bowling with Tommy Creagh, a seam/ spin combo. With fielding restrictions for the first six overs, the pair couldn’t keep the run rate down and they finished the powerplay on 53/0. An over later, and there was a double change in the bowling with Ravindu and Shriram Bhosale coming in to the attack. There was finally a breakthrough in Ravi’s second over as he dismissed captain Basharat (55) with a tricky high caught and bowled taken at a wide, short mid-on. Two overs later, Ravi claimed the other opener LBW. After Shriram got a deserved wicket in the fifteenth over, Ali Youngster were 128/3 (a much better score than last time we played in Vic…!). The runs had dried up a bit since Ravi’s second wicket and he was replaced after the drinks break by Sam with Shriram continuing. A five over spell together saw a couple of chances go begging but the run rate remained lower than would be expected. With the batting team taking their three over mid-innings powerplay, Ravi came back on for his final two overs along with the skipper, with both taking wickets in the first overs of their spells. Ravi (3/58) was replaced by Damien McMullen’s medium pacers as Umer continued, with the Pakistani picking up a wicket in each of his three overs of the spell. Damien too picked up a wicket (although the umpires claimed that Maroof’s stumping was in fact a run out!) as Ali Youngster collapsed from 172/3 to 226/8. Unfortunately for us, that ninth wicket partnership put on 52 unbeaten, mainly helped by Arslan Mohammed’s own 51*. We would have 279 to chase down after the break, but we went in buoyed by an improvement compared to our last league game there. A shoutout to Maroof Shaikh for doing a good job filling in behind the stumps, and to Ravi for his three-fer and two catches, plus two drops no one else on the pitch would have got anywhere near (and for escaping with most of his skin intact).
Maroof and Nial opened for us but couldn’t quite get us off to the start that we wanted. Both fell in the fifth over bringing Ravi and Nathan Blyth to the crease. Whilst there were a couple of profitable overs between the two, Nathan was dismissed caught trying to keep that momentum going. Ravi was joined by Damien and the pair enjoyed the third 30ish run partnership of the innings. Sadly we then endured a middle order collapse similar to Ali’s in the first innings, as Damien, Ravi (41), Umer, Tommy and Shriram fell in a five over spell, the last two dismissed by our ex-player Tanzeer who was inevitably in the wickets. This left us 130/8 just after the halfway mark. Now at the crease were Burhan and James Smith who combined for an incredible partnership, frustrating the bowlers who had sensed they were close to victory. Despite some great shots by both batters, perhaps the most incredible part of their partnership was the 20th over, with fifteen balls bowled by three bowlers, after the first two had to be removed from the attack for bowling high no-balls. As the two progressed, some hope started to trickle into the nine watching from the boundary although time was definitely against us. Burhan was trying to up the scoring rate but he was dismissed for a very well made 37 and with him gone any chance of a shock upset was gone, but the 76 run partnership had at least gotten us closer than looked possible. The newly re-injured Sam hobbled out to the middle only to have to hobble back three balls later (his first BICC dismissal in 1275 days, he’ll have you know!) and the game was done.
We had fallen 71 runs short but there were some promising displays against one of the strongest teams from last season. With the sun now firmly beating down on Vic, most of us headed to the train station for a drink before heading back (although a few stayed on longer enjoying the city’s main square throughout the afternoon). Our next game is in two weeks against another new opposition, King Empuriabrava CC, at their home ground. Onwards and upwards!
A 16-strong group of players (plus a supporter!) drove down to Alfas on Friday, with the jokes and banter flowing from the start despite us going in five cars. Although he captained in last year’s trip to Menorca, it was Umer Razi’s first tour as official club captain, and indeed his first game since becoming captain in December. We were due to play against Sporting Alfas on Saturday before being joined by La Manga Torrevieja on Sunday for a T10 triangular tournament. BICC hadn’t faced either team for at least a decade, meaning they were new opponents for all of our squad. However, one of the Alfas players (Carlos Parkin) had faced us in the first meeting between the clubs back in 1996! Ravi Maduranga (Saturday), Hesh Rukunayake and Agni Sikdar (both Sunday) were all set for their BICC debuts.
Having all set off at different times from Barcelona, we met up at a colonial themed restaurant (perfect for our mixed nationality bunch…) up the coast in Altea for dinner, before heading back to base in Albir to sample a few of the local beverages.
Umer lost his first toss as full-time captain and we were put in the field. Despite the economical efforts of opening bowlers Shriram Bhosale and Burhan Ejaz, Alfas got off to a solid start. After six overs, they were replaced by Anish Shindore and Nathan Blyth (much to the surprise of everybody). The Nathan experiment lasted just two overs before he was replaced by debutant Ravi. Anish then picked up the first wicket of the game, removing Crompton just four runs short of his 50 caught and bowled to leave the hosts 70/1. As dangerous as he had been, the wicket simply brought the current national team captain, Muñoz, to the crease. He got off the mark with a huge six off Ravi, before he picked up his first BICC wicket removing the other opener, SACC captain Pennick. Anish was then taken out of the attack to be replaced by Maroof Shaikh, who was also difficult to get away. In his third over, he bowled Muñoz (30) and the three current or former international players were out with Alfas now on 113/3 just past the midway point of the innings. From this point on, the wickets fell much quicker and more cheaply. Ravi (2/24) picked up his second before the skipper (2/3) brought himself on for a successful three over spell. Anish (2/17), Shriram (removing Parkin for a well made 31) and Burhan came back on and picked up a much-deserved wicket each. Jack Jewson also gets a well-deserved shout out for three catches behind the stumps too. Alfas had an England-style collapse, going from 113/2 to 145/9 as their innings ended with no one outside the top four scoring more than two runs.
After a quick break, Maroof and Umair Iqbal went out to open. With the (ahem, significant) help of Mr Extras, they got us off to great start, sharing 46 runs before Umair gave second slip some catching practice. Captain Umer came and went to his first (legal) ball and Nathan didn’t last much longer before controversially being given out LBW by his own teammate. Suddenly we were 51/3 with the middle order rushing to get their pads on. Ravi came in at 5 and joined the calming presence of Maroof. They shared the highest partnership of the day, 74 runs, before Maroof fell for 41 trying to go up a gear with the game all but in the bag. Jack fell cheaply to a less contested LBW. Off the penultimate ball Ravi (48*) and Nial Evans (making a fine 0* from his one ball) managed to run four byes, which probably cost the Sri Lankan a debut 50! BICC won the game by five wickets with eleven overs to spare!
Alfas captain Pennick had half of both teams doing push-ups after the game as punishment for ducks or dropped catches, before BICC player of the match Ravi got a good introduction to Western European culture with a race involving downing a pint, spinning around a bat and a race against Alfas’ player of the match! After a couple of (calmer) drinks with the opposition at their clubhouse, we headed into town for a curry (and another drink or two).
On Sunday we headed back to the ground ready for our first ever T10 matches. Umer won the toss and we chose to bat first, looking to set a challenging total against a team already well versed in 10 over games. Having lost Jack early on, Shriram (29*) and Umair (25) put on 74 for the second wicket aided by 20 wides (each wide was worth two runs, but not bowled again). Umair was dismissed with two balls of the innings left. The most incredible part of the innings was the final ball when five runs were scored following some chaotic fielding and panicked running! Thanks to that, BICC finished on a respectable 81/2.
From very early on, it was clear that SACC opener Brown wasn’t going to hang about. He hit four boundaries in Hesh’s first over for the club to get the hosts well ahead of the rate. From then on, none of the other bowlers took major punishment but everyone also failed to get that crucial breakthrough until James Smith picked up a wicket (the wrong wicket!) of the other opener in the sixth over. Unfortunately this merely brought Bilal to the wicket for a cameo 10* off five balls, with the chase completed by Brown (49*) hitting a high no ball for four - James’ accidental no ball costing him a chance of his personal landmark. SACC won the first of the round robin games by nine wickets with 13 balls to spare.
The second game of the tournament was us against La Manga, who had arrived during the first game. We were well aware of their prowess, having watched them play in the Spanish championship final last year in Barcelona. Umer again won the toss but chose to bowl first this time. Leg spinner Ravi, having been first change in the first game, was asked to open and was miserly, conceding just five runs in his two overs. Sadly for yours truly, that just meant that they attacked the bowler at the other end! Alger (20 off 11) was (crocodile) caught well by Shane Lightley off the bowling of Burhan (1/9) in the fifth over, Tedder came in briefly but soon had to retire hurt. Hesh made up for his expensive first over with two cheap overs, aided by cheap overs from Umer and Shriram too. No more wickets but LMTCC could only manage 62/1 from their ten overs. Having comfortably beaten that score in the first game, we fancied our chances of a first T10 win.
Ravi also opened the batting alongside Crocodile Shane. Despite a couple of good shots, Shane was struggling to consistently get bat on ball and was eventually bowled. Umer came in next and together with Ravi batted cleverly, keeping us up with the run rate. It was largely without risk, until off their best bowler’s last ball Ravi (26) went for a big shot and was caught. AIded by some quick running, and a couple of byes to the keeper, Nathan and Umer (21*) completed the chase with a ball to spare. BICC won by eight wickets!
In the final game of the tournament, with most of us already headed back to Barcelona, LMTCC beat the locals, meaning the tournament ended with each team winning one game each (La Manga officially winning the tournament on net run rate!). It had been a thoroughly enjoyable day and weekend, great to meet two “new” teams and visit the beautiful ground that Sporting Alfas have. I’m sure we’ll be back before a decade is up, and hopefully down the coast to La Manga too! Thanks to all involved for inviting us and organising.
See Saturday scorecard here
See Sunday scorecard here
Menorca v Barcelona International CC Saturday October 30th 2021
Barcelona very kindly filled the final weekend of the season at Biniparrell following a withdrawal by the scheduled side. Hopefully the last COVID affected fixture ever.
The Catalans arrived brimming with confidence following their unblemished record against the locals. Many of the 13 previous encounters going to the wire but Menorca unable to get over the winning line, the new look squad as their international name states very much a mix of antipodean, Asian and British players who've taken residency in the Catalan capital.
The game at one point looked unlikely to go ahead as there was rather a lot of precipitation around but a swift phone call to our very own man of the cloth Rev Strudwick resulted in divine intervention and following some sterling work by the players preparing the ground a reduced format T20 game got underway at 2pm.
The visitors won the toss and as one would expect opted to bat. The opening new ball partnership of Wilson and your correspondent gave nothing away first up conceding only 20 runs from the first 8 overs and taking 3 wickets to leave the visitors reeling. They never recovered with all the Menorca bowlers taking wickets at regular intervals Adam Lavin 3/3 bowled superbly as the Catalans were skittled for 70. Only chairman McMullen 25 with a score of note.
The locals made no mistakes chasing down the paltry total Lavin and Hagger scoring 32* and 35* respectively to give a long awaited 10 wicket thumping victory to the hosts.
An early finish most welcome in the chilly conditions, chairman Manners presiding over his final weekend in charge in fine form at the bar. The late afternoon BBQ prepared by our very own Michelin man Osterbery most welcomed by visitors and hosts alike. The natural ingredient dessert supplied by Wilson was well received too.
Sunday v Barcelona International CC 40/40
There was quite a contrast in the weather from Saturday to Sunday, the heavier tog gilets tucked away as the sun beat down for the final time at the home of Balearic Cricket.
Menorca batting first got off to a measured start before Dow was triggered for 3. Saturday evenings Jugged hare supper washed down with a fine vintage claret having a negative effect on the judgment of line and length. There were contributions in the teens from Catterall, Brayne, Dan Sullivan and Barker. Burns senior made 22 but it was Sunday skipper Roussel who excelled hitting 52 from 37 balls at the top of the order. Menorca posting a slightly underwhelming total of 158 from their final 40 overs of the season.
In reply the Barca boys found head baker Wilson in excellent form, he uprooted both openers in quick succession. Luke Burns showed great control despite his tender years, impressively conceding only 11 runs from his 4 overs. The youngster unlucky not to pick up a wicket too. Shane Lightley made 39 but Menorca continued to take regular wickets. Roussel 3/35 showing his prowess with the ball to cap off a fine individual performance on the day. McMullen was proving a nuisance with the bat and it seemed likely that he would get the visitors home. He fell for 70 in the 36th over leaving the last wicket pairing to get 9 from 3.3 overs.
Akter Husein bowled the antepenultimate over and conceded 3, John Chipperfield then stepped up to the plate 6 required by the visitors for victory, the second ball of the 38th over hoicked through midwicket for 4 by Kleparski leaving the Catalans needing 2 to win or 1 for a tie.
Chipperfield strained every sinew with his very next ball, finding a way under Kleparski’s bat to rattle the off stump and give Menorca what seemed like a very unlikely victory. The collective euphoria showing just how much this meant to the team and spectators alike.
A superb and fitting end to what´s been a testing half season both on and off the field. We look forward to brighter times ahead with a full calendar of fixtures in 2022.
A debt of gratitude to the volunteers who got us to the end of the season. You all know who you are.
Special thanks to our chairman Andrew Manners for over three decades at the helm. We wouldn´t be where we are today without your dedication, perseverance and guidance.
Menorca travel to Malta for the first time this weekend for an end of season tour. Match reports to follow providing your correspondent doesn’t get overly inebriated.
Jeff Barker - Menorca CC
See our weekend report here
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
We travelled up to Vic for the first time for our last game of the 30-over league season against a new opponent in Raval Sporting CC. It would turn out to be a game with many records, with very few in our favour! Captain Sid Tewari lost the toss and Raval chose to bat.
Sid opted to open with the spin/ seam combo of Tommy Creagh and Anish Shindore. The scene was set early on as the first ball of the game went for four, followed soon after by the first six. Despite some damage in the first over, Anish quickly pulled things back with a wicket in his first over, caught well by Umair Iqbal at point. However, Raval's other opener Karan Datta continued bludgeoning the ball over the short straight boundary and by the time the opening bowlers came off after 6 overs Raval had reached 47/1, despite tidy figures for Anish. Sid brought himself and spin-twin Umer Razi on. Umer got a wicket in his first over thanks to a second good catch by Umair. Unfortunately, this brought Manish Manwani to the crease, who had clearly been watching Datta (at this point with over 75% of Raval's runs having passed 50) from the sidelines and fancied a piece of the action. Sid started to chop and change the bowlers more often, with Anish and Tommy coming back for one over either side of the introduction of Maroof Shaikh. Datta had had a bit more trouble with Anish's seam than any of the spinners, which proved to be the same with Maroof until he got hold of him in his third over. Todd Fraser gave the trees at long-off some catching practice, but offered the team a half-celebration after having the batters caught twice in two balls (sadly off a no ball and the resulting free hit). By this point Datta had passed a brilliantly made hundred, but was to fall in the next over to Umer for 125 off just 67 balls. Two balls later and Umer had another wicket and, at 193/4 off 20 overs, there was hope that we might be able to limit Raval to a chaseable total. Sadly, Manwani clearly didn't read the same hopeful script as us and set about demolishing our bowlers. None of Tommy, Damien McMullen, Umer (3/57), Sid or Anish (1/54) could stop him, or new partner Kshitil Patel, as Raval scored a mammoth 165 in the final ten overs. That was until Tom Kynaston, in his last game for the club before returning to England, was brought on for the last over. With his second (legitimate) ball, Tom (1/16) had him stumped by the again fantastic Jack Jewson. Raval had finished on 358/5 from their 30, the highest score of the league season so far.
If chasing two a ball for 30 overs was unlikely (especially with our dismal batting form all season), any chance of winning quickly to improve our net run rate to get into the top positions was definitely out of the window and splatted on the ground below. Umair and Maroof went out to bat. Aided by five early penalty runs for rubbing saliva on the ball, and a few wides, the pair got us off to a fast start and we started to get more hopeful on the sidelines that the chase might just be possible. Having reached 67/0 from eight overs, we were just two runs behind where Raval were. At this point they brought on Guarang Mahyavanshi, who immediately got a wicket with his first ball, with Umair (14) falling. Maroof and Umer (13) rebuilt briefly before the latter too felt to Mahyavanshi. In came Sid, who smashed two sixes off his first two balls but would all too quickly fall to the same bowler again for a quickly made 20, caught in the deep attempting a fourth six. Anish came in to join Maroof, who was on strike and got to his 50 next ball, his first for the club. Sadly two balls later he was bowled by that man Mahyavanshi (4/46) again without adding to his score. When Anish was dismissed cheaply, we were on 135/5 from 18 overs and the task of chasing down this mammoth record target was becoming rather unlikely! The two wickets falling had brought Jack and Damien together, who went about steadying the ship with a 26 run partnership. By this point we were taking the small victories, and celebrated bringing up our highest total of the (rather abismal batting-wise) season. El Presidente (17) fell with the game absolutely dead and gone and Todd came to the wicket. On the sidelines, the remaining three batters of James Smith, Tommy and Tom were all padded up, clearly not expecting great things from either Todd or Jack. However, the two of them batted through the rest of the innings with a superb 71 run unbeaten partnership, with Jack cruelly finishing two runs short of another maiden BICC half-century, with Todd finishing on a BICC-best of 21. We finished on 232/6, some 126 runs short of Raval but still easily our best score of the season.
Sadly, the defeat condemned us to last place in Group C with just one win from the six games we actually played. There was little shame in losing to this Raval side though, who will finish top of the group, and had four fine individual performances backed up by the rest. Most importantly, the game was played in a great spirit and Raval invited us for a beer at the end of the game. That's definitely the way into our hearts and I'm sure we'll meet again on the pitch soon. We wish them well in the quarter-finals. Hopefully our next showing in the federated league will go slightly better!
After the game (and beer), we headed back to Barcelona for a curry at our partner's Koh-i-noor in Poble Sec.
BICC made our first trip to Empuriabrava and was surprised to see something magnificent at the ground. GRASS! With a constant rain of skydivers in the background it was quite a nice ground to be at.
Sid won the toss and decided to try our luck with the bat. Maroof and Burhan opened the batting and managed to scratch together 16 before Burhan was caught and bowled in the fourth over. That brought Umer to the crease, who was looking good with a lovely six over long on, before he was trapped in front for 6. Anish came in and was dealt the same fate leaving BICC 3/29 in the seventh. Maroof, who had been batting well, tried to clear the infield but was caught. Damien retired hurt at the end of the same over bringing Hamza and Jack to the crease. They had our longest partnership in the middle ( 5 overs ) before Hamza was also caught. Much like Umi, Sid came in, cleared the boundary, and was bowled leaving the scorecard 6/66. Oscar and Tommy were dealt the same treatment followed shortly after by Bruce, being caught in the covers which left Roses a mere 75 for victory.
Roses came in with the intention of wrapping up the game in five overs but Tommy and Sid had other ideas. Tommy picked up their opener with his third ball as superdad Anish took a calm and collected catch in the deep. Not to be outdone, Sid also took a wicket with his third ball, luring a batsman out while Jack quickly removed the bails in a very tight call which fell in our favour. Tommy picked up another wicket with his eighth ball in similar fashion to the first wicket with Anish taking another nice catch on the run in the deep and a bit of belief was creeping into the hearts of the BICC faithful.
Sid made the opposition dance to one of his world famous moon balls and the batsman seemed to have no choice but play at it a few steps out of his crease and popped an easy catch to Damien at slip and they were 4/37.
Roses then put on 19 more before the Tommy-Anish combination pulled another victim. Umi chimed in with a nice catch from Bruce (with a look of surprise on his face) but that was the end of the wickets as Roses chased down the below par total. A few tough catches went down but it was a great bowling and fielding performance. Unfortunately more runs were needed on the board to trouble one of the top teams. BICC are still struggling with the bat with only one player reaching double figures (Maroof) but there is one more opportunity at the end of the month.
In usual BICC style we went for a feed and a drink together after the game for a laugh and to discuss the what might have beens before heading back to Barcelona.
After having to forfeit our league game last week, we travelled back to Riudarenes for our fourth league game there against a familiar opponent in Rising Stars. We were confident of repeating previous victories against them despite their status as a seeded team in our group. With a squad heavily depleted by Covid cases and contacts, we finally scraped together an 11 on Thursday, and fortunately none of them had to drop out. One notable absentee was Sid Tewari, so Stu Boyd took the reigns as captain for the first time in his BICC career. Tim Lee made his BICC debut and Oscar Kleparski his league debut, as we welcomed previous captain Mohsin Nawaz back for his first match back since standing down last year.
Stu lost the toss and we were put in the field. The returning Mohsin (1/22) and Seb Armstrong opened the bowling. Both quickly got breakthroughs as two wickets fell in the second and third overs. The third wicket built a 52-run partnership that Oscar (1/17) finally broke. Tim was finally rewarded for some miserly bowling in his third over to leave Rising Stars at 85/4 at the halfway stage. Damien McMullen, Maroof Shaikh, Kevin Kitchin and Nathan Blyth came on for their first bowls of the tournament and it was the latter two who rewarded their temporary captain’s faith with a wicket each, Kevin (1/13) on his third ball and Nathan (1/23) in his third over. Seb and Tim came back to clean up the tail, Seb (2/32) picking up one wicket and Tim (3/18) getting his just rewards with the final two wickets either side of a run out by Stu. Rising Stars were bowled out for 195 with one over left, mainly thanks to 69 from their number 3 Mati-Ur-Rehman Malik (and 39 wides…).
Maroof went out to open with Hamza Baig, the only outfielder not to bowl in the first innings. The two went about trying to build a solid start, but Hamza fell in the sixth over. Stu came in, but fell an over later bringing Tim to the crease. Him and Maroof stayed together for five overs, but we were still struggling to keep up with the required run rate. When both fell in the space of three balls, we were on 42/4 after 12 overs. Kevin and Damien spent a few overs in the middle together but also couldn’t get the run rate up. Kevin was caught and Damien (17) was run out, bringing Nathan and wicketkeeper Jack Jewson (22*) together for the biggest partnership of the innings – 29. Unfortunately, by this point we needed more than two a ball and, with wickets running out, victory looked increasingly unlikely. After Nathan (19) got out, Mohsin (13) came in for a cameo and Seb kept Jack company to the end, eventually dismissed off the last ball of the innings. We finished on 137/9 from our 30 overs.
Ultimately, we were undone by one batter from the opposition (Malik’s 69 was the only score over 22), some wayward bowling (our 39 wides to their 13) and the progress of the opposition in the year since we last played them (“They're quick bowlers and don't mind bouncing you. Was good to see their development actually. They played good solid cricket all day.” – Stu). Despite the 58-run defeat, it was a good day individually for many of our players. Kevin and Tim picked up their first BICC wickets, with Oscar joining them in getting his best BICC figures. Nathan also achieved his first league wicket, as well as his highest batting score. Jack and Seb also managed to bag their best batting score for the club, with surely more to come. Our next game in two weeks-time is the long trip away to Empuriabrava, to play the local team Roses Spartans.
With BICC seeing unprecedented availability in recent times, there has been a growing desire to get a friendly team going alongside our league team. After two failed attempts, we finally managed to organise a game against a Bengali XI full of juniors trained by our former player Nadim. It was also the first game played at CEM Maresme, which has become our regular practice ground in the past few weeks. The game saw no fewer than four BICC debuts (Shane Lightley, Martin Dobson, Jon Wong and Barry Edwards) as well as a ‘second debut’ for Edward Spencer-Phillips, who had a brief spell playing for the club in 2007/08. Umer Razi captained a BICC side for just the second time. Only Umer and Sam Phillipps (and Edward) had played for the club before 2021, as we did our best impression of the England squad currently playing Pakistan (“sorry, what was your name again mate?”). The BICC 2nd XI was up and running, and for the first time we’d have two sides in the same weekend*, with 19 players set to play over the weekend.
Umer lost the toss and former BICC guest player and Bengali captain Omar chose to bat. Shriram Bhosale and Nick Parkes opened the bowling with some fierce bowling that was too quick for the Bengali openers, with most of the runs during their two over spells coming from wides. Then came a new newbie and an old newbie in the shape of Jon and Edward. With pace off the ball, the batters felt a bit more comfortable and started to play a few shots, although at the cost of three more wickets, with Jon picking up his first BICC wickets. Umer kept ringing the changes, and having relieved him of the gloves, Burhan Ejaz and James Smith came on to bowl for the first time in a BICC shirt. The pair formed a more miserly partnership and were unlucky not to pick up more than the one wicket, another first BICC wicket for James. Umer quickly ditched the gloves, handing them to the late-arriving Barry to bring himself on for a bowl. With his wicket, and one more for the returning Shriram and Edward saw Bengali finish on 108/11, after Umer graciously allowed them a twelfth batter (not that he managed to contribute anything!).
Barry went out to open with last week’s league opener Burhan with the two of them settling well for a 23-run partnership. This was before Barry (11) felt to the local rule of hitting the ball over the fence behind the wicket (a notice that he’d missed having arrived late – oops!). This brought Shane to the crease, who provided something of an anchor as Burhan (10), Martin (after a thundering straight drive!) and James fell at the other end. Shane fell for a well-made 16, and we were starting to get nervous in the dugout watching on as wickets fell consistently. When Nick and Jon too fell cheaply we were on 55/7 and staring down the barrel of the gun. Fortunately, Edward and Umer built a strong partnership, taking us to within sight of victory before Edward (12) fell to the same rule as Barry (despite knowing about it). Shriram came in to watch Umer (26*) hit the winning runs with four overs to spare.
Our thanks to Nadim and Bengali for getting us a game and providing a good opponent and to Anish for umpiring the first innings when he’d just turned up to deliver the kit bags! It was a really enjoyable game played in the right manner by both teams. A huge well done must be given to Mr Wides, for scoring so many runs across both innings in a low-scoring game. Ahem...
*We didn’t get two sides out in the end, as we had to forfeit our league game the next day after a positive Covid case ruled out half the team! D'oh! We’ll try again soon.
Once again we travelled to Riudarenes for a Catalan league fixture, this time against Trinitat Stars. Our team had no fewer than four debutants – Tommy Creagh, Shriram Bhosale, James Smith and Todd Fraser (the latter two had already been involved as 12th men). Sid Tewari won the toss and we decided to bowl.
The opening pair of Stu Boyd and Shriram got us under way, with little luck. They were replaced after 7 overs by the spin pair of Sid and Tommy, who immediately got stuck in to clawing back the match. Sid got a wicket first ball and fourth ball, before three more wickets (two for Sid, and a first for Tommy) in three overs reduced Trinitat from 51/0 to 74/5. Tommy would go on to claim three more wickets to finish with very fine debut figures of 4/32 from his 6 overs. With spin clearly working well, Umer Razi came on to bowl, with less success before Sid came back to clean up the tail along with the returning Shriram (1/32) who claimed his maiden wicket. Sid had picked up consecutive five-fers, finishing with 5/14 from just 5.1 overs. Trinitat Stars were bowled out for 119 from 21.1 overs.
BICC went out to chase the low score knowing that time was on their side. Maroof Shaikh and Burhan Ejaz opened the batting, playing well and settling the nerves with a steady 21-run partnership. When Burhan got out, he was followed by Stu first ball. This brought Maroof and Umer together, who once again steadied the ship and took BICC to the halfway mark runs-wise. A little wobble followed, as we collapsed from 59/2 to 81/7, as Maroof (23) and Umer (20) were followed cheaply by Nick Parkes, Shriram and James. Captain Sid came in at 9 to join President Damien. When the latter was run out for 17, we had already passed into triple figures and could smell our first league victory. With Sid (21*) scoring most of the runs, he and Todd Fraser (4*) took BICC home with 8 balls to spare.
For the first time in 9 years, BICC had won a Catalan league match!
p.s. you can read Cricket España's report of this historical game here
BICC travelled to Riudarenes again for its second league game of the season, against another new opponent in Ali CC. Sid Tewari won the toss and decided to field first. Also like the first game, the playing eleven included two debutants, Maroof Shaikh and Nick Parkes, with 12th man James Smith also yet to make his debut on the pitch.
Rez Hassan and Anish Shindore opened up, and it didn’t take long for some fireworks. Both suffered at the hands of Ali opener Zeeshan (58) who got the oppo off to a flying start. By the time both opening bowlers were withdrawn, the score had reached 71/0 after just six overs. Umer Razi came on for the seventh over. Zeeshan reached his 50 with a huge six before Umer got his revenge, dismissing him caught and bowled. The volume and energy on the pitch, which had naturally subsided somewhat, increased and BICC felt like they had an important breakthrough. Sid brought himself on at the other end and got two wickets in his first ball. Suddenly Ali had gone from 81/0 to 85/3. They kept tumbling, with Sid completing a 5fer after just 3.4 overs which left Ali on 125/6. Umer eventually bowled out with very respectable figures of 1/40. Meanwhile, Stu Boyd had come on to replace Sid and continued his economic trend. He also managed to pick up two wickets, the first a slightly fortuitous LBW followed by a slip catch by Nathan (his fourth in three games), conceding just nine runs from his four overs. Tom Kynaston replaced Umer and also kept the scoring rate down (at least, when he found the astroturf strip…). Sid brought himself back on again, and again got a wicket first ball to achieve his best ever BICC figures of 6/24. Two balls later and Maroof combined with wicketkeeper Jack Jewson to end the innings with a run out. Ali were dismissed for 160 in just the 23rd over. After that electric start, BICC had done well to reel in what could have been a formidable total. Sid made sure to praise Jack’s efforts behind the stumps as having saved 20-30 runs in just his second outing for the club.
Four balls later though and Jack, opening the batting with Umair Iqbal, had run himself out without scoring. First Stu, then Sid, Nick and Umer briefly joined Umair, with BICC struggling to get going against the Ali openers. When Umair (25) was also run out in the 13th over with the score at 47/6, we were well in trouble. Whilst the required run rate wasn’t necessarily an issue, we were fast running out of wickets in hand. Then Maroof and Nathan came together, occupying the crease for a few overs, steadily accumulating the highest partnership of the innings (19!). Those watching on from the side started to believe again, before Maroof unluckily fell to a very sharp stumping. Anish came in next desperate to regain some batting form but unfortunately nicked off, the keeper pulling off a smart dismissal on the way to player of the match. With Tom doing his finest Jack Leach impression (0 off 10) at one end, Rez’s quick cameo (19) came to an end after one too many big hits and he was caught in the deep. With this brought the end of the innings and the match. Despite a 64 run loss, we had enjoyed our day. Whilst chatting away with a beer after the game, the two teams for the next match at the ground turned up and, looking at our mood, presumed we’d won. Maybe next time…
In the end, Ali were too strong for us across all departments and we could see why they were one of the seeded teams in our group. They played in a good spirit and we hope to meet them on the pitch again soon!
In other positive news, we were able to use our new Big Dogg kit for the first time, the first time BICC has turned out fully in uniform for many a year. And don't we look good!