A Cricket Espana Select XI had their latest get together as they work towards the 2018 ICC Tournament and came a very creditable second in the annual T-20 classic.
The teams that participated in this years competition along with the CE XI were last years winners United CC from Girona, Madrid Stars and three teams from England, Graces CC from London and finally two teams from Penzance Cricket Club.
Spain started their campaign on the Friday morning against Penzance II. The visitors from the South West of England won the toss and elected to bat first. The hosts started brightly taking both openers with just 14 on the board and six overs gone. Penzance never really recovered from the shaky start and Nathan Pogeba was the only player on his team to reach double figures, scoring 23, as the Pirates were restricted to 67 for 8 in the final over.
Spain's first over saw Awais Ahmed hit three sixes off the second,third and fifth ball. However, Kent got some revenge with his last ball of the over by bowling the batsmen with the score on 20. The Spaniards continued to bat aggressively and reached their target in just 35 balls, with Yasir Ali being the main contributor with the bat, adding 24 runs.
Spain's second game was against the reigning La Manga Classic Champions United CC of Girona. Cricket Espana's batting again excelled and they piled on the runs to post a total of 200 off their overs allocation. Opener Mohammad Asjad hit 94 and he was well supported by Yasir Ali, as the pair put on an 110 run partnership in ten overs. United battled hard to chase down the daunting total but were finally out for 153 in the nineteenth over. Haider with four for 30 and Kuldeep Lal with 3 for 34 were the pick of the bowlers.
The next day Spain were matched up against another local team Madrid Stars. CE won the toss and elected to bat. Although several of their batsmen got starts none of them went on to capitalise and make big scores as they finally finished on 143 for 9. A good bowling performance was required and the hosts did just that restricting the team from the capital to 109 all out from 17.5 overs. Yasir Ali with three for 8 and Vinod Vini with three for 13 were the bowlers that did the damage.
The last game of the day pitted the two unbeaten sides together. Penzance I came with a strong reputation and several ex-professionals including former Derbyshire and Essex all rounder Greg Smith. They game went down to the wire with the vistors finally prevailling with four balls to spare. Spain batted first and posted 154 for 5. Rajput top scored with 66 before being ran out and he was well supported by Adam Alger who opened for the first time in the tournament and got a solid 46. Penzance were indebted to their opener Purchase (a former Gloucestershire second XI player) for the victory as he scored 63 off just 36 balls. The three wicket victory for the team from the South West was a close fought affair and in all likelihood the teams would meet again in the final to give the Spanish lads the chance of revenge.
The final game in the Round Robin was a one sided affair against Graces CC. Spain amassed 251 for 5. Opener Awais Ahmed took a particular liking to the bowling and scored a mammoth 131 for his team which included eleven sixes and also eleven fours. In reply Graces CC were skittled out quickly for 55 with Kuldeep Lal ending up with the excellent figures of four wickets for just four runs.
As anticipated Penzance I went through the round robin stage unbeaten and with Spain only having the only one loss the supporters were given the chance of a re-match they wanted between the top two sides of the tournament. Unfortunately, the Spanish put in a sub-par batting performance to post a poor total. The 126 runs required for victory was easily chased down by Penzance I with their skipper, the former Glamorgan and Sussex trialist Bradley Wadlan top scoring. The Welshman who has also played for for the Cornwall County side hit 78 in the final and ended up picking up the player of the tournament at the Gala Dinner and Trophy presentations. Graces CC also won a special sportsmanship trophy for their non stop efforts and attitude whilst two Spanish players picked up awards as well, Awais Ahmed got the batting award whilst his team mate Yasir Ali got the bowlers award.
(Cricket Espana Squad - La Manga Classic - April 2017)
Final Rankings after Round Robin:
1. Penzance 1 P5 W5 L0 Pts 50
2. Spanish XI P5 W4 L1 Pts 40
3. United P5 W3 L2 Pts 30
4. Madrid Star P5 W2 L3 Pts 20
5. Penzance 2 P5 W1 L4 Pts 10
6. Graces P5 W0 L5 Pts 0
Final - Penzance 1 beat Spanish XI by 6 wickets with 17 balls to spare.(You have the scorebook)
Player of the Tournament Brad Wadlan Penzance 1
Batsman of the Tournament Awais Ahmed Spanish XI
Bowler of the Tournament Yasir Ali Spanish XI
Special Sportsmanship Award Graces Cricket Club