Levante CC took maximum points off Torrevieja yesterday to keep the title hopes for the Development League very much alive. Levante skipper Jason Noon reports on the game.
Levante CC returned from the summer break with bigger bellies and a maximum 20 points from an entertaining game against Torrevieja. Captain Noon won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first as the September sun shone gloriously over the VCG.
Opening the batting for Levante were Rhys Morgan and Tony Little and they set about their innings in watchful style with some good bowling from Lee Brown and Hasan early on.
Levante had only managed 26 runs in the first ten overs but with both openers now set the boundaries started to flow. That was until Little (25) offered a chance that was snaffled by the man at short mid-wicket. Noon (7) came to the crease with the score 55 for 1 and he and Morgan added another 48 before the skipper skied one to mid-off going for a big shot back over the bowlers head. Moments earlier Morgan had raced to his first 50 of the season but only after being dropped at short mid-off by the Torrevieja skipper. Morgan (70), playing some lovely shots and looking in top form, would soon break the Levante batting record but then holed out to a very wide fine leg.
At the other end Matthews had come in at 4 and escaped a big LBW shout first ball. He was now playing well though and he and Burchell started to build a nice partnership. Matthews, having been dropped three times and taking over the Graham Hunt luck charm for the day, scored his first half century for his new club. Amongst the luck were some beautiful, classy boundaries and he soon surpassed Morgan's new Levante record before being bowled for a brilliant 74.
Burchell meanwhile was playing well himself and after taking a while to settle, he started to find the boundaries with ease. He went for 39 to a brilliant catch at square leg by Graham Shelton and Levante were still a few short of the 250 target and two new batsmen at the crease. Ogilvie (12) had a nice cameo before being bowled with the score on 249. Tivey and Graham saw the score to 250 for 6 dec on the stroke of tea.
After tea Levante got off to the perfect start as Pilkington trapped Wood plumb in front of middle with his first ball, umpire Bacon having little difficulty in raising the finger. It was another pulsating start from Levante and in particular Pilkington who is making a habit of taking early wickets.
Torrevieja settled down though and reached 35 without further loss before Rich Graham made the breakthrough having opener Shelton caught at second slip by Morgan. At the other end Hoy (1-26) had replaced Pilkington (1-25) and he had Jahid swinging and missing a number of times before finally getting his man when he walked in front of the stumps andoffered another simple decision to the umpire. The score soon became 43-4 as Tivey had Hasan caught by Morgan.
Burchell then bowled a beauty that pitched on leg, turned square and took the outside edge of M Talbot's bat, with the batsman bamboozled by the spin and a good catch taken by Matthews keeping wicket.
With spin at both ends Dan Tickel was in the midst of a lovely 4 over spell. First he had A Talbot stumped as the batsman came down the wicket to a ball that turned sharply, whilst Matthews cleaned up well behind the stumps before the batsman could regain his ground.
Then he had D Scott caught by Burchell at leg slip to finish with 2 for 14. Any thoughts Levante had of skittling Torrevieja for a low total were soon banished though as the Torre dangerman Bann was going on the offensive. Having hit a number of fours he then went aerial and smashed a number of sixes out of the ground with most of the Levante bowlers feeling the brunt. He did survive a couple of chances, most notably skipper Noon dropping one on the boundary after Burchell had set up the batsman beautifully.
At the other end he was running out of partners as Graham (2-25) returned to bowl Thompson and finally Tivey (2-17) would have Bann brilliantly caught one handed by Pilkington at the deep midwicket boundary for a stunning knock of 88. As Torre skipper Lee Brown was injured that was the end of the innings, Torre all out for 158 thanks mainly to the brilliance of Blann. Levante won by 92 runs.
It was a really good game of cricket played in the right spirit. The Levante performance was a real team effort with plenty of batting partnerships and most of the bowlers chipping in with wickets. Torre proved a stubborn team to beat with Blann particularly impressive and Hasan bowling well.
Man of the match for Levante was shared between Morgan and Matthews for two outstanding knocks as well as big contributions in the field.
Thanks to Torrevieja for making the long trip to Valencia and as always to the two umpires Allan and Ron and to John Howden for scoring.Finally, the win still leaves Levante with a chance of winning the second division in their first season. Our final two games of the season are a double header at home to Madrid on the 28/29 September.