Recently Spain's Over 40's side participated in the Four Nations Trophy Tournament in Rotterdam, Holland. One of the touring party Harmit "Rico" Phull gives a report on the event below ...
In 2013 the Spanish over 40’s cricket team were invited to travel to Copenhagen and play in a T20 (20 over) tournament alongside teams from Denmark, Holland and Great Britain who were participating in their 42nd annual ‘Triangular Tournament’.
Spain were invited to play all three teams in 40 over matches and they had performed better than anyone could have imagined; narrowly missing out on the 20 over tournament (beaten just once by a young Swedish side) and were unbeaten in all of their 40 over games. The committee responsible for the triangular tournament introduced a new ‘Four Nations Cup’ to which they invited Spain to participate in annually playing against the teams from the Triangular tournament.
19th of July 2014, 15 members of the Spanish over 40s cricket team including two Umpires and a scorer prepared to travel to Rotterdam, the venue of the 43rd triangular tournament and the very first Four Nations Cup where they would play in a T20 and 45 over tournament against teams from Holland, SGS (Still going strong), Great Britain (The Forty Club) and Denmark (Dansk XL). The Spainish were keen to continue the good work they started a year ago in Copenhagen.
Their first challenge was to get to the venue which proved to be a task in itself! The 9 members traveling from Alicante had planned to reach the Nieuwerkerk Hotel in Rotterdam by 23.00, allowing them to meet up with members of the squad travelling from Ibiza and Lanzarote for some tactical discussions in the bar!!! However a 3 hour flight delay, Rotterdam airport closing at midnight, a diversion to Amsterdam airport followed by bus ride to Rotterdam made this impossible and a very tired team made it to their hotel a few hours before breakfast was to be served!!!!
Amazingly, 6 hours later all members of the Spanish team arrived at the magnificent ‘Sparta Ground’, a sports complex with 2 beautiful cricket pitches surrounded by breathtaking beautiful scenery. The Mayor of Rotterdam gave the opening ceremony speech and then it was time to play cricket!
The Spanish team would like to thank sponsors ‘The Property Shop’ in Ibiza and ‘Pensions People.com’ in Lanzarote who joined up to provide two types cricket shirts for the lads to wear before, and after the matches.
The first match was a pre tournament warm up against Dansk XL who were a player short and as it was a friendly, Spain sportingly gave the Danes one of its players, only to find that he would play a crucial part in this game.
Batting first in this 35 over match, it would seem that the bad luck that Spain started the tour with would continue when opening batsman Neil McKinstry had to retire hurt, a muscle injury that sadly left him unable to play any further part in the cricket on this tour. Spain made 145 mainly thanks to a fine knock of 52 from Geoff Evans.
The Danish team started well, but after losing several quick wickets they were struggling to keep up with the run rate. Then Spanish player Navdeem Choudury at no 8 went into bat for the Danes; who still needed 40 runs to win. Then the Spanish lad forgot who he was playing for and started to hit the ball, not only making a super quick 32 not out, but also winning the game for the Danes!
The next day it was to happen all over again, Spain vs Dansk XL, but this time it was for real. The Danish side now at full strength, won the toss and elected to bat first. Spain showed their strength in the field with experienced bowlers making scoring runs hard work. Graham Cooper (3-29) bowled well and Peter Crawford (48) kept the innings ticking for Dansk XL, who finished on 152 of their 45 overs. In fact if it were not for some sloppy Spanish fielding, it could have been a lot less!
Spain started badly losing David Williams early and then seeing in form G Evans having to retire with a wrist injury. However the boys from Lanzarote, David Smith (72) and Neil French (22) put the game in the bag for the Spanish team, though, just like the friendly, the game would go down to a nervy finish. Needing just 20 runs to win, as the rain started to fall so did the Spanish wickets, 6 fell for just 10 runs!! Thankfully the cool head of Vice Captain George Wambeek and Robin Parmenter ensured the Spanish team won the match.
The evening came to a close with all the teams sharing cricket banter, while tucking into a delicious BBQ at a rather damp Sparta ground.
Tuesday was T20 day, Spain had 2 games to play, the first against The Forty Club. Batting first Spain had good performances from David Williams (42) and Graham Cooper (30) finishing on 142 of their 20 over’s. The Forty Club made light work in reaching the target, with outstanding batting from N Canham (53not out) and D Humphreys (48).
Having lost the earlier game the Spanish side knew that the 2nd match of the day was a must win affair against Dansk XL if they were to stay in the competition.
This time Spain fielded first, and restricted the Danish side to 87 of their 20 overs. Spain’s openers D Williams (22) and D Smith (33) made the perfect start reaching 50 in quick time with the lads from Ibiza Martin Makepeace and Robin Parmenter bringing the well earned victory home.
Wednesday 23rd, Spain were taking on SGS who had just narrowly been beaten in a very high scoring game against The Forty Club. To have any hope of winning the Four Nations Cup SGS knew this was a must win match.
On a very hot day the Spanish put SGS into bat and were made to sweat it out in the sun as the Dutch Openers piled on the runs, M Muis (108). At 190 for 1 after 30 overs, it looked like the Dutch were going to pass 300 before the end of their innings but Spain’s fighting attitude paid off with a tremendous fight back, wickets started to fall the Dutch finished with a score of 253 of their 45 overs.
Spain went about their task fighting and were unfortunate to lose their Skipper Geoff Evans to a dodgy looking LBW decision just as he was settling in, however, D Williams (81) did not disappoint and took the fight to the Dutch, but Spain kept on losing wickets at key stages with G Serventer (4-45) bowling very well. Neil French (22) was hitting the ball well but when he was run out after some confusion with fellow batsman John Braithwaite, it was all out for 193.
Thursday the 25th July was a big day for the Spanish team. It was the final day of T20 and the team knew that they were second in the table behind their opponents today, SGS, the team that blew them away with the bat the day before. Reading the rules carefully the team knew that if they won today they would be on level points with the Dutch, however it is then decided by results against one another which would have seen the Spanish team crowned champions!
Fired up for this one the Spanish were to bat first and John Thornton (68 not out) and N Choudury (41) gave the Spanish a perfect start, SGS had little reply to the Spanish aggressive approach, and hoped their own batting strength would help reach the target of 155 set of their 20 overs.
SGS found runs hard to get as the Spanish bowlers grinded them down, Neil French being the pick of the bowlers. M Igelse (51 not out) did bat through the SGS innings but as they fell further behind the run rate you could see the Spanish team starting to celebrate a famous win, the beer would taste much better tonight!
The Dutch team finished on 118, well short of the target set. The Spanish players were victorious, but no….. The Dutch organizers had decided that there should be an outright winner, and to the annoyance and disappointment of the Spanish team, decided to have a bowl out. This is when the 11 players of each team take it in turn to bowl at stumps, the team that hits them the most…wins! After all 11 had been, it was just 1-1, so it went to sudden death, and this is when the Spanish hearts sank, SGS won, a bitter tasting victory it was too.
The T20 cup was presented at a Gala dinner and the Spanish team showed their true spirit and professionalism by not allowing the earlier events of the day to get to them. It was refreshing to know that all the other teams including many of the Dutch players knew that the Spanish boys were the real winners of this particular trophy. The Flamenco boys put the disappointment behind them and did what they do best, mingled with the guests, sharing a drink and joke and making people laugh.
Friday was the final day of the tournament, and you couldn’t help but overhear how people were talking about the Spanish team being robbed of the T20 Crown!! Although disappointed, and tired after 5 days of competitive cricket; the team had to stay focused for this last of their Four Nations 45 over match. The game was against the tournament favorites, The Forty Club.
However Spain knew that if they could win today, and the math’s worked out in their favor, they too could still win the first Four Nation’s Trophy. Made to bat first Spain struggled right from the start, in form batsman D Williams and young Braithwaite were given out to very poor LBW decisions. But you can’t take anything away from British team they bowled and fielded well and did not let Spain get into this game bowling them out for just 105.
The Forty Club knocked off this total in no time and added the first Four Nations Cup to the Triangular Trophy they had already won.
It was a great tour for the Spanish team, there will be a lot to learn from it before they go to the UK in 2015. They can be proud of their achievements, they played a very high standard of competitive cricket, but they played fair, with pride and respect for all players, officials and supporters. The team made many friends and once again gained praise and respect from the organizers, well done to our lads, the players, umpires and scorer.
Before traveling home the team had some player awards to give out, proudly sponsored by ‘SJ&A Printers’ and ‘Bar Restaurant Ricos’ both in Torrevieja.
Best Batsman – David Smith
Best Bowler – Graham Cooper
Best Performance – David Williams (81)
Players Player – John Braithwaite
Players: Goerge Wambeek. Geoff Evans. Dave Smith. David Williams. Graham Cooper. Neil French. John Braithwaite. Robin Parmenter. Martin Makepeace. Neil McKinstry. Bob Nix. Navdeem Choudury.
Umpires and Scorer - Dave Riley, Adnan Khan and Harmit Phull
The Spanish team would like to thank Cricket Espana, The Property Shop in Ibiza, Pensions People.com the only company offering alternative pension solutions to Expats in Lanzarote, SJandA Digital Services, Bar Ricos both in Torrevieja and all their sponsors for their continued support. Anyone interested in cricket or sponsoring the Spanish over 40 team Tour 2015 when they hope to bring perhaps both of T20 or 45overs Four Nations Cups to Spain, please see the Cricket Espana website.