2021 was another tough year for the club in a cricketing sense, with us having to wait until late June for our first game of the year and only managing to win two of our nine fixtures between league and friendlies. That being said, there have been many positives off the field: a real boost in membership numbers and interest in playing for the club; helping with the vote for public funding to build a cricket ground in Barcelona - and winning; and lots of media coverage for the club that came with that vote, from within Catalonia and from around the world. The year has ended with our first AGM as the club gets ready to register officially with the Catalan authorities ahead of the 2022 season. This has brought about a new committee of Sam Phillipps (President), James Smith (vice-president), Stu Boyd (secretary), Nathan Blyth (treasurer), Burhan Ejaz (training manager), Maroof Shaikh (kit manager), Umair Iqbal (social events), Todd Fraser(online manager) and Umer Razi (first team captain). It’s not long since the club was struggling to get enough players together to play on a Saturday, and this year we had eleven people put their hand in the ring to help run the club! We are hoping to be able to enter a second team into the league next season, which would (almost certainly) be a Catalan first.
As many as 14 (FOURTEEN!) players made their BICC debut this year despite the lack of game time: welcome aboard Tim, Shane, Martin, Barry, Jon, Tommy, James, Shriram, Todd, Maroof, Nick, Seb, Burhan and Nial! Edward also made a return to the playing eleven after 13 years away from the club.
Results: 6th June: LOST by 4 wickets vs Lleida Tigers (30 overs - Lliga catalana). BICC 135/10, Lleida 137/6. Sid 49, Umer 39. 20th June: LOST by 64 runs vs Ali CC (30 overs - Lliga catalana). Ali 160/10, BICC 94/10. Sid 6fer. *Ali CC were later found to have used an ineligible player and we were awarded the two points.* 3rd July: Internal game. Team Nathan beat Team Nick by 5 runs. 4th July: WON by 2 wickets vs Trinitat Stars CC (30 overs - Lliga catalana). Trinitat 119/10, BICC 121/8. Sid 5/14, Tommy 4/32. 10th July: WON by 2 wickets vs Bengali CC (T20 - friendly). Bengali 108/11, BICC 109/8. 11th July: CONCEDED vs Kharian CC (Lliga catalana). Covid outbreak within squad. 18th July: LOST by 58 runs vs Rising Stars CC (30 overs - Lliga catalana). Rising Stars 195/10, BICC 137/9. Tim 3/18. 1st August: LOST by 4 wickets vs Roses Spartans (30 overs - Lliga catalana). BICC 74/10, Roses 79/6. Tommy 3/27. 29th August: LOST by 126 runs vs Raval Sporting CC (30 overs - Lliga catalana). Raval 358/5, BICC 232/6. Umer 3/57, Maroof 50, Jack 48* 9th October: Internal game. Team Red beat Team White by 5 wickets. Anish 59, Umer 83*, Maroof 102, Shane 32, Kevin 31*. 30th October: LOST by 10 wickets vs Menorca CC (T20 - friendly). BICC 70/10, MCC 74/0. 31st October: LOST by 1 run vs Menorca CC (40 overs - friendly). MCC 158/10, BICC 157/10. Burhan 3/37, Shane 39, Damien 70.
On the pitch: The year started with Catalonia under curfew Covid rules, and with our ground in Montjuïc still closed, we were unable to play in the city.
In May, we were forced to cancel our proposed tour to Italy to play Idle CC due to further Covid-related complications over travel too. With us unable to play friendlies in the city, the club decided to rejoin the Catalan league for the first time since 2013. We were placed in group C, amongst some familiar foes, although when it finally started in June, we began with a match against previously unknown Lleida Tigers in Riudarenes. Despite some decent scores from Sid and Umer, the batting let us down and we posted an underpar score. Despite this, we were well in the game until a late rain delay saw momentum swing the way of the Tigers. Two weeks later we were back in action at the same ground against another unfamiliar team, the seeded Ali CC: This time, skipper Sid shone with the ball, claiming 6 wickets but it was to no avail as again our batting fell short. However, a few days later we were awarded the points after Ali were found to have used an ineligible player! We were (sort of) up and running. On the first weekend of July we held a practice game, with film crews from Catalan News and al Jazeera keen to showcase Catalan cricket to their audiences. They witnessed an intense battle between Team Nick and Team Nathan, the latter narrowly coming out on top. The next day we once again travelled to Riudarenes to play our third league game against Trinitat Stars, who we attempted to play once back in 2017. Thanks to another Sid 5fer and 4 for Tommy, we restricted them to 119 and chased it down with just two wickets left, with the runs shared around. Now we’re definitely up and running! The very next weekend, we organised another friendly on Saturday, consisting of almost an entirely different eleven to the one due to play in the league game on Sunday. Our first 2nd XI game was a success, as we beat a young Bengali side by two wickets. It’s very unfortunate that we didn’t quite get that completely different eleven as one of the tested positive for Covid that afternoon, leaving a handful of Sunday’s team stuck having to quarantine and leaving us both short of players and worried about spreading the virus with the players we did have. We felt obliged to cancel the match, since the Federation wasn’t prepared to postpone it. The next week’s league match was also a bit compromised with so many players in quarantine as the fifth Covid wave wreaked havoc in the city. We came up against former regular opponents Rising Stars, who we were confident of beating again despite their seeded status in the league. Unfortunately a decent showing in the field wasn’t enough to win in Stu Boyd’s first game as captain. In August we had two games, a rarity for the club as we normally take the hot summer month off. On the first Sunday of the month we made the long trip up to Emburiabrava to play Roses Spartans for the first time. I’m assured everyone had a great time up there although the trip was probably longer than the match. Despite being bowled out for just 74 we ran the locals close and they only just scraped home by four wickets. Four weeks later, we travelled to Vic to play our last league game against Raval Sporting, with the slightest possibility of qualifying for the next round with a big win. Instead, we went on to concede the highest score of the entire league season (by a good 30 runs) and, despite an encouraging first few overs and passing 200 for the first time all year, we fell 126 runs short. With the league done for us, we didn’t manage to play in September. But on the 9th October we travelled back up to Vic with 22 players for an internal match. Suddenly all our batters were back in form with 50s for Anish and Umer, and a superb 100 by Maroof as Sid’s “Red XI” beat Umer’s “White XI”. Three weeks later and it was the most anticipated fixtures of the year as we travelled over to Menorca looking to increase our ten-game winning streak against them. With regular captain Sid and his vice Stu both missing, Nathan took charge on the Saturday in a rain-shortened game. Unfortunately, our batting woes were back and we were dismissed for 74. After the sun came out during the tea break, batting became easier and Menorca managed to chalk up their first victory against us by ten wickets. The next day, things went a lot better and we were able to play our normal 40 over game, this time with Umer as captain. We dismissed the hosts for 158, a score which looked on the low side of par. Led by a BICC-best 70 for Damo, we got oh so close as well fell just one run short. Other than being able to return to the nets in Montjuïc, that was it for us in terms of playing in 2021. With any luck, things will be easier in 2022!
Words from the (incoming) captain - Umer Razi: First of all being a captain of BICC it’s a great honor and also a big responsibility. Being a captain you have to be leader and good leaders are those who are good communicators. It involved both listening and speaking and being captain and I will encourage all the team members to give me their feedback every after a game. As being social club the most important thing is to enjoy the game that we love. We do our level best in the field in order to win the game. All I want from my team to give 100 percent in the field. Winning and losing is a part of the game. I would like to thank again all the team members who have nominated me this year to be a captain.