A weekend of contrasts for Levante and Madrid cricket as both teams took a victory and a defeat from the double header weekend games. It will be Madrid who go home the happier of the two teams though as they won the league game, and exacted revenge for an earlier season defeat, whilst losing the friendly on the Sunday.
Saturday saw a really hot Valencia day and Levante choosing to bat after Madrid called wrong. Not much choice really as they only had nine players at the ground at the appointed start time. Levante started like a house on fire with 16 off the first over. That was all the good news for Levante though as the innings just fell away.
Terrible shot after terrible shot meant that Levante were bowled out for just 166, a well under par score at the VCG with just Graham Hunt and Azar Abbas with 43 and 67 stopping the rot. Azar was batting in the unaccustomed position of number 9 having arrived about an hour and a half after the start time due to a, let's say, mix up on dates. Murary finished with 4-39, Woodward an unaccustomed 2-23 and Vinee on debut 2-39 for Madrid.
In Madrid's reply there were no alarms, an early chance from Richard Wilson went down at wicketkeeper but the first wicket was only lost just before tea with the score around 50. Post tea Levante's bowlers kept it tight with the returning Nungnes bowling through nine overs impressively without much luck. Olly Wrightson, 72, along with Adam Langhans, 62 then smashed the ball around to leave a few runs needed at the end.
Bad day at the office for Levante and serious team huddles sorting it out.
Sunday came with an earlier start and a thirty over game. A much changed Levante team were put in the field and suffered at the hands of Woodward at the top of the Madrid batting order with a stand and deliver quickfire 50. The only bowler to escape the onslaught was Rowan and his new short run up with 3-18 off 5. Credit to youngster Salim too in only his second game who was unlucky in his four overs as chances went begging. Madrid finished on a huge 267-5 off their 30 overs with another 50 for Wrightson and some good finishing by Tom Blacklock.
Levante started better with Qasim Abbas at the top of the order falling for 29 off 15 balls then Graham Hunt hitting 48 off just 22 balls. With Dave Murphy playing a more watchful innings at the other end finishing with 42 off 42 balls it was left to guest Tayyad with 47 not out and Captain Tony Little with 46 not out off 35 to win the game by five wickets for Levante off the first ball of the final over. Credit to Blacklock again with 3-49 off his 6 overs.
Honours even over the two matches but Madrid the happier because they got 20 league points moving them closer to Levante and Valencia Stars in the table.
Graham Hunt - Levante
Madrid 1st XI made it back-to-back for the first time since the Bronze Age, as they recorded a 7 wicket win away in Levante. Murari Perulmasamy did the damage with the ball with 4 victims to his name, as Adam Langhans and Ollie Wrighton took Richard Wilson’s side across the line with 20 overs to spare.
So, the saying goes, “don’t change a winning side,” which Richard Wilson would’ve been keen to remember after the 33-run victory posted by his side against Valencia Stars the previous week. Naturally, Wilson made 8 changes to the team as 4 debutants took their place in the side in the form of Mark Dove, Thomas Blacklock, Vineet Kumar and Madrid’s first French cricketer Xavier Gomez. Incidentally, Gomez goes straight into the French squad for their upcoming tour of the Caribbean. The players were presented the caps long-time friend and confidant of Richard Wilson from the Madrid Captain’s Association, Sergio Ramos. French Actor Gerard Depardieu was on hand to make the presentation for his countryman. Sam Tetlow wasn’t available for selection due to a large unforeseen booking for Tetlow’s Tapas Tours ©, but Ollie Wrighton stepped up to fill the Tetlow-shaped void as the club had a private jet chartered from his ranch on the outskirts of London.
Levante’s captain Graham Hunt won the toss and elected to bat first on a humid day at the Valencia Cricket Ground. Richard Wilson scuppered a mutiny in the ranks led by Adam Langhans after news filtered through that they were bowling first. Rumours that Wilson was caught paying for Langhans’s “arroz negro” after the game are yet to be proven, with a case being filed against the Captain to release his bank statements.
2 years ago, the sides played out two high-scoring thrillers where 1,500 runs were scored in two days as Levante came out on the right side of both matches. Wilson could be forgiven for thinking the same was going to happen, following a first over where Abdul Hakim was hit for 16, as Birchell and Tivey started the innings as though they had been batting on the pitch all week. But, on debut from the other end Vineet Kumar was offering nothing for the openers to pounce on as the runs dried up. The pressure he created forced the run out of Tivey (15) in the third over. Birchell (10) would follow an over later as Vineet took his first wicket for the club. Perulmasamy then came into the fray and would come to get 2 almost identical wickets as Pinkiton and Senhouse found Kumar at the deep square-leg boundary in close succession, before Woodward removed Murphy on the stroke of drinks.
Levante found themselves 82-5 at drinks with Hunt offering the sole resistance. He began by flicking the ball well off his pads into the gaps for ones and twos, showing patience by waiting for the loose delivery. However, at the other end wickets continued to tumble with a further wicket a piece for Preulmasamy and Woodward to put the visitors in a commanding position. Azhar arrived to the wicket and proceeded quickly to take on the bowling of the visitors. A reverse sweep for 4 one of the early highlights of his innings. The key wicket of Hunt (43) came thanks to Perulmasamy, getting his fourth wicket of the match. The skipper drove a low full toss straight to Wrighton, leaving Levante 112-8. The home side then made Madrid work hard for the last two wickets. Azhar (68) provided the spectators with some lusty blows as he brought up his 50 off 31 balls. He continued to farm the strike and shepherd the tail well, before Wrighton took his wicket as Levante set Madrid 168 to win.
Perulmasamy was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4-41, with Azhar and Hunt top scoring with 68 and 43 respectively for the home outfit.
There were 12 overs for Wilson and Langhans to negotiate before the consumption of tea. Langhans continued in his fluid form from the previous week. The same could be said for Wilson as he settled back in the anchor shaped form he found against Valencia Stars. The Australian was served some short balls, which somewhat satisfied his eternal hunger for the pull shot. However, his partner at the other end was kept tied down by the bowling of Levante’s seamer Bruno. Bruno was unlucky not to dismiss the captain in the first over after he was dropped behind off his third ball. The left-armer would get his man on the cusp of tea though, as the wicketkeeper made amends for his earlier mistake snaffling a chance behind.
Wilson’s exit brought Ollie Wrighton to the crease. Wrighton started circumspectly, before cameras spotted him mouthing to the square-leg umpire Wilson, “do you fancy going to the Irish pub to catch the end of the cricket?” It’s unclear what Wilson’s response was, but the right-hander who heads up DFS’s marketing team soon upped the pace, and morphed into a form eerily similar to that of what we saw 2 years ago in the aforementioned 2015 games. On that occasion, Wrighton scored 182. Today though, Wrighton (72*) was supported along with Langhans (62) who did the bulk of the work, in advance of Langhans being dismissed lbw by Senhouse. 8 from Blacklock brought his fellow debutant Mark Dove to the crease, who scored the winning runs with a cut shot to give the Madrid side the win.
Madrid return to action in a month’s time in La Manga as they go in search of a third consecutive win. This time it is against Valencia Stars. The match will be sponsored by Mark Dove’s new business venture “Florence Properties Ltd”. Tickets for the match are available from our official ticket supplier Ticketmaster and the supporter’s coach will be leaving Atocha Train Station at 5am.