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THE HISTORY OF CRICKET IN MADRID AND BARCELONA
 
17th November 2010

 THE HISTORY OF CRICKET IN MADRID AND BARCELONA

Soon after my arrival inMadridin 1975 I met Jit Mehta and Franco died. Jit and I decided to get up some games of cricket. Jit, who had played for Hollywood CC, contacted the Indians living in Madrid and I wrote to all the Embassies and Companies of cricket-playing countries. 

The British Club gave us some old cricket equipment, the Indian Embassy brought in two short strips of matting (one for each end) in the Diplomatic Bag, and we started playing on a piece of wasteland out in Majadahonda.  I acted as Secretary and Treasurer and with the help of the members we gradually grew and moved to more convenient playing surfaces. 

All the games had to be played amongst ourselves except for two games which I managed to organize inPortugalat Cascais andOporto. 

In 1979 I returned toBarcelona, where I had lived and worked since arriving in Spain in 1957.  Freddie Witty had told me that his father, Arthur Witty, co-founder, captain and president of FC Barcelona, had organized a game of cricket against a British merchant ship in 1913 at the Equestrian Club down near the Port.  In 1982 I heard that the President of the Polo Club, El Conde de Reus, was a Monarchist. 

I got a friend, who was a member of the Polo Club, to get me an interview with El Conde.  When we met I told him that the English always played cricket on the Queen’s Birthday and could her subjects living inBarcelonado the same on the polo ground.  He was most impressed and called in the Manager of the Club to tell him to let us play on the polo ground whenever it was convenient, which we took full advantage of and played there until the 1992 Olympic Games ruined the turf and we had to play on various other pitches until the turf recovered and we returned to the Polo Club in 1997. 

I was able to form a strong and almost permanent Committee from the end of the 1980s onwards and the BCC became a successful club and did a lot of travelling.  Besides Madrid, Javea and the Balearics, we visited France frequently, Monte-Carlo,Geneva,Milan,LodiandGeneva; were the first foreign side to visit Morocco playing inRabatandCasablanca; representedSpainin the City ofDurham European Cricket Festivalin 1995 and in 1997 were the first European side to visitChina, playing in the Beijing International Sixes Tournament. 

Our most successful season in Spain was in 1995 when we won the League and the Cup.  In the League playoff we scored 507 for 2 in 45 overs, which brought us a mention in Wisden.  From 1996 onwards we began to have difficulties finding sufficient regular players to ensure being able to put out a side, so we decided to wind-up the Club in 1999.  In the past decade quite a few Pakistani teams have been formed in Catalunya and they run their own leagues and tournaments. 

Phil Smith