The Spanish X team continued with their preparations for this summer’s all important tournament in Stockholm, Sweden by taking part in the “La Manga T20 Club Classic” tournament, hosted by La Manga Cricket Club.
They were joined at the venue on Friday 8th April by 7 teams from the UK. In the Round Robin stage, teams we put into two different leagues.
Iin league one the Spain XI were drawn to play Waltham & Rosedale CC, Lichfield CC and Roehampton CC, whilst the other league comprised of Sutton Coalfield CC, Royal Engineers CC, Findon CC and Freshfields Cricket Club.
The teams from the UK probably thought that they were back in the Britain as the unseasonal cold, wet and windy weather made conditions difficult for the fielding sides, this was definately not part of the package!! Luckily the weather did gradually get better by the day, and with that so did the cricket.
The Spanish X1 team powered through the group Round Robin stages winning all 3 matches comfortably and were drawn against the Royal Engineers CC in the semi finals on Sunday morning.
The other semi final was against the other unbeaten team in the tournament, Sutton Coalfield CC who faced Roehampton CC who finished 2nd behind Spain X1 in league one.
The Royal Engineers CC were narrowly beaten into 2nd place in league 2 and the semi final against Spain X1 promised to be a mouthwatering contest.
The game did not dissapoint, and batting first Spain X1 found runs hard to come by and wicket Keeper Ravi Gilbert in top form taking a couple of Sharp catches and also taking the prize wicket of Yasir Ali with some ligjtning quick reflexes. Captain Christian Muñoz kept the batting side composed and some hard hitting at the end by Kuldeep Lal posted a decent total of 140.
The Spanish bowlers were up for the task, supported by some fine fielding they removed the danger batsman early. Yasir Ali made up for his batting dissapointment by picking up his 2nd 4 wicket spell of the tournament, but it was his first wicket, that of Ravi Gilbert, the man that stumped him, fantastically caught by Tanveer Iqbal in the deep that signaled the end of the batting sides challenge, finishing some 50 runs short. It was a energetic and professional performance from the Spanish team that took them into the afternoons final.
In the final they would play the impressive team from Sutton Coalfield who seemed to get stronger and better with each game.
The final itself turned out to be a one sided affair, batting first the Spanish batsman just could not work the ball past the fielders, the team from the UK took the pace of the ball and made runs very hard to come by. After 5 overs, though no wickets had been lost they were restricted to just 18 runs. At the half way point that score stood at 45 for 2. The local team now had to take some chances but on this occasion nothing seemed to work to their favor and a superb spell of bowling from Steve Howard (4 for 18) ended all hopes of a Spanish revival. Only a little cameo innings from Yasin Ali helped to take the score past the one hundred mark, at the end of the innings they set the visitors 116 for victory.
To have any chance of victory the Spanish team had to take some quick wickets and put some pressure on their strong opponents. They did just that in the first 3 overs and a fired up Tanveer Iqbal took 2 vital wickets to give them a fighting chance. However after that early setback the team from the UK composed itself and assisted a little by some wayward bowling from the Spanish team, got to the total with the loss of just 1 other wicket.
A very dissapointed Spain X1 side were beaten again in a final, but no arguements there, the better team on the day won. And as the deserved tournament winners were presented their trophie and sprayed the champagne over each other, the Spanish X1 reflected on 4 solid perfornances and match practice against good strong opposition which will certainly make them stronger and better in weeks to come. Practice makes perfect.
The Spanish squad would like to thank the tournament organisers for welcoming them to take part, all the teams for providing them with good strong competitive games of cricket which does wonders for their preparation for August. Not forgetting a huge thank you to all the tournament officials, the catering staff and thier loyal travelling supporters.
Heads up boys, remember the Spanish football team, they too always fell at the last hurdle, but then on the 11-07-2010 it all changed, the rest is history!!
The tournament was played in a very sporting and friendly manner, and this atmosphere was taken into the evenings wonderful gala dinner enjoyed by the players, officials and tournament organisers.
The evening would not be complete without any presentations, Sutton Coalfield CC players were presented their winners medals while the Spanish X1 players received theirs for being runners up.
Players were also mentioned for individual batting and bowling performances, batsman of the tournament was Roehampton CC’s Nick Freeman for scoring 66* and 113. Spains Yasir Ali was awarded bowler of the tournament with figures of 4 for 16 and 4 for 25.