The Pinatar Pirates Cricket team ended their perfect season back where it began with a T20 victory in April earlier this year. From there they went on to win the T20 tournament at the Pinatar Arena, reach the final of the Last Man Stands European championship, win the La Manga T20 Classic tournament and in the same month, October 2017, became crowned the ECCL division two champions.
The Cartama Oval was a special place to them where they made many new friends, so being invited the take part in this "Sports World Spain Cricket Festival", T20 tournament was a real honour.
Pinatar Pirates were joined by 3 other teams, two local teams, Malaga CC and Crusaders CC and a team from the UK, Hampshire Vets CC. The tournament was blessed with marvellous weather throughout the three days, and after Malaga won the opening game against Hampshire Vets, it was time for Pinatar's first game against the Hampshire Vets. The Pirates batted first in this low scoring contest, great controlled bowling from J Edwards (3-14) restricted them to 134 of their 20 over's, with only Paul Hennesingh (45) and Akash Panchal (28no) making any real contribution with the bat. The Pirates had to be at their best in the field and thanks to a great spell of pace bowling from P. Hennesingh (4-26) and the tricky spin from A. Panchal (2-20), Hampshire were bowled out for 108 despite the efforts of S. Morgan (32). It was a great win, but they knew they had to improve with their batting if they were to reach the final.
Later that afternoon, Pinatar were back on for their second game, this time up against Crusaders CC. Again fielding first, the Pirate bowlers bowled a very tight line, however the fielders did not support the bowlers, dropping more than 10 catches. Amazingly, it did not seem to cost them dear, as N. Dar (53) and A. Ali (42) made the most of their cat lives, they struggled to accelerate the score finishing on an average score of 128 for 2 of their 20 overs. Pinatar would have settled for this score no questions asked, however their reply was terrible and as they lost early wickets, Crusaders tightened the screw and Pinatar found runs hard to come by. Lovejeet Singh looked like he held the key for Pinatar but when the fired up J. Hansen (2-21) had him caught behind, it was all over for the pirates as the run rate required went higher and higher. Another poor batting display saw them finish on 108 for 8 of their 20 overs, a remarkable win for the Crusaders.
The Crusaders went on to reach Sundays final winning their next two games, Pinatar Pirates knew they needed a comprehensive win over Malaga CC in their final game of the group stages to reach the final themselves. That match was first up on a cool Saturday morning and groundsman Cosmic did a fantastic job getting rid of all the dew on the pitch. Though the ground felt quite chilly, fortunately the club house was nice and warm, in fact it had a smoky feel about it which I'm told may had something to do with a certain umpire and his kit bag. Dave Riley learnt that it’s not a good idea to leave your bag sitting on top of some fairly powerful floor lights, luckily the damage was only to some of David’s kit, and though a hole was burnt through his bag and into one of his umpiring jackets, he had a spare so fortunately, did not lose all his marbles!!
Malaga CC were happy to win the toss and put Pinatar in the field first, hoping the damp conditions from the morning dew would make it difficult for the Pinatar bowler's.
However, good thinking from the Pinatar captain, Gopi Singh, turned to his slower spin bowlers early in the game and that had instant results. Bittu Singh (3-10) and Sajid Ali (2-13) used the conditions superbly and Pinatar skittled Malaga out for a below par 84, only N. Muhammed (24) contributing with a decent score. Though it was a low score the Pirates knew their batsman had to stay focused and start to deliver in this tournament, and they responded in top class professional fashion reaching the target with the loss of no wickets, openers Ravi Panchal (42no) and Sajid Ali (28no) winning the game and sending the team from Murcia into Sundays final against the Crusaders.
Sundays proceedings kicked off with the 3rd place play off, Hampshire Vets (198-3) beating Malaga CC (190 - 7) in a very close and enjoyable game with Hampshire's batsman of the tournament contender, M. Wedge scoring 51 not out following on from 75 not out in the previous game against Crusaders. This time he was well supported by J. Wilson (59). Malaga's A. Muhammed (42) and Z. Mohammed (61) were so close to pulling off a remarkable win but bowler C. Batten (3-38) produced the goods when it mattered and victory swung in the way of the touring team from the UK.
Next up was the final, a contest between the two best teams and Pinatar, having lost once to the Crusaders, wanting revenge in the final. First blood went to Crusaders as they won the toss and repeated what worked for them in their last match against their opposition, bat first.
However, this was not the Pinatar that they played a two days ago, it was the same players but reaching the final had raised their game, and they were faultless, and ruthless. Crusaders were the unfortunate team to come up against Pinatar at their very best, the bowling was superb, the pace bowlers frustrated the batsman early on and allowed the spinners, Bittu Singh (3-6) and Sajid Ali (3-26) pick up the wickets, and unlike the previous encounter, the Pirates took all their catches with the captain Gopi Singh taking 3 and the pick of the catches was from the wicket keeper Sukhi Singh taking a flying one handed catch low to his left, as good as any I've ever seen. The stunned Crusaders battled to 92 before they were bowled out. In reply the Pirates remained focused to the task and cool headed batting from Ravi Panchal (51no) Sajid Ali (22) and Lovejeet Singh (19no) finishing the game in style with a massive 6, won the game for the Pinatar Pirates Cricket Club.
It was a fabulous way to end their champagne season, and to do it in the marvellous settings of the Cartama Oval was just fantastic. Not only were Pinatar taking home the winners trophy, but Ravi Panchal won the batsman, Bittu Singh the bowler and Sukhi Singh the fielder of the tournament awards, so there was plenty to celebrate at the Cartama Oval as the sun came down on a fantastic three days of cricket.
Pinatar Pirates would like to thank all the teams for playing the tournament in a sporting and friendly manner and thank everyone involved and the organisers for doing a wonderful job.
John Howden the tournament referee and his team of officials did a marvellous job, the umpires, k. Healy, B. Gaynor, J. Barrett and smoking D. Riley were excellent all the way through and the scorer, LM. Rhodes was superb.
Special thanks also to David Copper owner/barman of the complex for making it all possible, working closely with Egan Dantis whose organisation was much appreciated.
The Pirates would personally like to thank Graham Shelton from Torrevieja Cricket Club for the use of their minibus.
Pinatar wanted others to share in their good fortune so some of the lads decided to go and support Malaga Football club just up the road as they played host to Celta Vigo in a La Liga clash. Malaga without a win all season and only one point to their name and sitting bottom of the league needed some of the Pinatar charm, and would you believe it, they won 2 - 1. Well done lads, and your welcome Malaga!!
The 12th Man.