Despite a fantastic effort from the Brown brothers, Antonio and Tyler, Sporting Alfas were unable to deny league newcomers Levante maximum points in a pulsating game of cricket in Valencia yesterday.
Levante still stinging from a suprise defeat at home to the Intellectuals the weekend before won the toss on a hot sunny day and had no hesitation in batting first.The new look open partnership of Mark Green and Tony Little started well seeing off the menacing threat of Sporting's strike bowler John Braithwaite who conceded only six runs in as many overs in his first spell. With instructions to build a solid platform from skipper Noon, the openers did just that and reached drinks with the minimum of fuss and incident.
Soon after drinks, Green fell but the Levante batting was looking much more purposeful than the week before. Hunt (48) scored quickly and when Little went for a well crafted 42 the home side were eyeing maximum batting points. Noon kept the momentum going with a quickfire 33 and at the lunch interval Levante were 218 for 8 and were faced with the tricky decision of whether to bat on to reach 250 and get the fifth bonus point or declare and have more time to bowl out Sporting Alfas on a wicket that was playing true and giving little to bowlers.
Noon decided on the former and all rounder Pilkington proved his skippers decision to be correct as he hit a swashbuckling 21 not out in double quick time to see the home side declare on 250 for 9 just four overs the other side of lunch. Pick of the bowlers for Alfas was Mark Perman, who worked tirelously for his teams cause, ending with figures of 3-49.
Alfas got off to the worst possible start with McKinstry falling without a run having been scored from the bat and dangerman Jimmy Amir fell victim to Pilkington the very next ball when he walked across the line and the ball hit his pads right in front of the stumps. 1 for 2 after one over, plan B was enforced by Alfas, they now hoped to see out the game with a rearguard action and eke out a draw.
Antonio Gomez Brown joined skipper Evans at the crease and they started to put runs on the board gradually as they both played themselves in slowly, but purposefully. When Evans was clean bowled Antonio was joined by his younger brother Tyler and evidence of the Sporting Alfas Junior Academy bearing fruit was clear for all to see.The siblings played with composure and concentration, defending all the good balls with strong foward defensive shots and despatching loose balls with aplomb to the boundary.
With frustration creeping into the Levante psyche Noon turned to team mate Dan Tickel to try something different. It worked as Antonio got the slightest of leg side edges and was caught behind by keeper Eaton. What was pleasing to see was the youngster walk without waiting for the umpires decision. The younger Brown continued with his stubborn resistance and he finally made it to his maiden half century to well deserved applause from everyone at the ground.
However, reaching such a milestone probably contributed to his downfall, as his concentration faltered, and he was caught behind without adding to his score. By this time the overs were frittering away and Chris Cooper was batting comfortably and he still had the evergreen Bobby Nix and the father and son team of Mark and Kieran Perman to join him at the crease, if needed.
A crucial moment in the game came when Cooper got the faintest of edges to be caught behind. Again the batsman walked without waiting to see the umpires decision, a testimony to the fairness in which this game was played and a credit to all involved in the match.
With just four overs remaining skipper Noon brought back his strike bowlers at both ends Pilkington and Rhys Hoy. Both combined to get the remaining two wickets. Hoy, bowling from the Mestalla end got the younger Perman to play tentatively at a straight ball and he was snapped up at short mid wicket by Pilkington. A few balls later it was deja vu as the older Perman was dismissed in the same fashion to give Hoy a double wicket maiden and Levante a maximum points victory.
The Levante bowler ended up with 4-37 from an exhausting 14 overs. Skipper Noon got to celebrate his birthday in style with his team taking maximum points from the game, whilst Alfas can reflect on their first trip to Valencia with many positives, namely the performances of their academy players,who showed great commitment and resolution throughout the game. Finally a big thank you to the umpires Brian Pitts and Richard Francks who officiated competently throughout the day in searing temperatures and to all who were involved in making the wonderful teas. Valencia is quickly becoming synonymous as a place to come to enjoy a great days cricket.
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Sat 27th April Sporting Alfas (13 points) drew with Levante CC (12 points)
SACC 214 for 9 (B Fletcher 65, K Laundon 34, J Braithwaite 32, Hussain 2-33, D Tivey 2-55) Levante 166 for 8 (S Burchill 67)
Sun 5th May La Manga (18 points) beat Sporting Alfas (7 points) by 50 runs
La Manga 183 all out (K Buckley 32) Sporting Alfas 133 all out (J Amir 35, H Phull 4-35)
Sat 11th May Madrid (18 points) beat Torrevieja (5 points) by 3 wickets
Torrevieja 100 all out (M Talbot 36, L Blann 33, M Fernandez 4-7) Madrid 102 for 7 (K Shezut 39, K Wood 3-26)
Sun 12th May Madrid (10 points) drew with Sporting Alfas (11 points)
Madrid 244 for 9 (M Fernandez 108, W Ashraf 4-76) Sporting Alfas 103 for 2 (G Evans 39 not out)
Sun 19th May La Manga (20 points) beat Intellectuals (5 points) by 184 runs
La Manga 286 for 6 (G Singh 128, V Singh 57, P Davis 41 not out) Intellectuals 102 all out (Matt Copperwheat 5-8)
June 3rd Levante (20 points) beat Intellectuals (2 points) by 9 wickets
Intellectuals 101 all out (A Faulkner 26, Samy 26, A Cormack 23, S Burchill 5-25) Levante 104 for 1 (T Little 40 not out, G Hunt 35 not out)
June 3rd Sporting Alfas (20 points) beat Torrevieja (2 points) by 9 wickets
Torrevieja 131 all out (J Webster 33, J Braithwaite 2-12) Sporting Alfas 134 for 1 (J Amir 104 not out)
June 9th Intellectuals (18 points) beat Levante (6 points) by 24 runs
Intellectuals 165 for 8 (A Faulkner 47 not out A Pilkington 5-20) Levante 141 all out (R Graham 40, Hashim 6-25)
June 9th La Manga (16 points) beat Torrevieja (5 points) more details to follow
June 15th Levante (20 points) beat Sporting Alfas (7 points) by 94 runs
Levante 250 for 9 (G Hunt 48, T Little 42, M Perman 3-49) Sporting Alfas 156 all out (Tyler Brown 50, A Brown 36, R Hoy 4-37)