SPAIN MAKE A SUCCESSFUL START TO THE SEASON
Spain opened their 2010 campaign in fine style with one victory and one draw from a two match contest with ’Volharding Olympia Combinatie’’ (VOC) of Rotterdam, Holland.
The opponents have excellent facilities back home in the Netherlands, and are one of the top clubs in the Dutch league. They can boast Jack Richards, the former England wicketkeeper and the New Zealand pair, Nathan Astle and Lou Vincent as previous players. Their ground has hosted numerous home games for the Dutch National side and several of their home grown talent have represented their country, with Roland Lefebvre perhaps the best known of them.
With such a formidable reputation "La Seleccion" knew they would need to be at the top of their game to get anything out of either match. The first game played on April 16th unfortunately had to be abandoned without a result because of excessive rain three-quarters of the way through the game.
VOC had completed their innings and scored a competitive 220 all out from 49.2 overs.Chris Free top scored for the visitors with 93 before being caught behind by wicket keeper Jimmy Morgan off the bowling of Madrid´s Irshan Khan with the score on 219. He was well supported by Smith in the middle of the innings who scored 34 for a 78 run 4th wicket partnership.
The Spanish bowlers all bowled well with Talat Ali and Irshan Khan taking 2 wickets a piece and Akmal from Madrid ending with figures of 3-41 off ten overs which included one maiden. These figures were even more impressive considering that the first two balls from his spell went for 10 runs.
Spain used this game to experiment with the new opening partnership of captain Spencer and Armaghan Khan of Cataluyna CC. Both looked in good touch before falling for 9 and 13 runs respectively. With Pedro Venus stuck in London because of the volcanic problems Gary Crompton was given the job of batting three for the Spanish side. Unfortunately he was caught early on in his innings to leave the home side frustrated and fighting an uphill battle at 27 for 3.
Jimmy Morgan and Akmal consolidated the batting before the rain started to fall. The umpires tried to let the game continue but with the wicket of Morgans with the score on 83 and the rain getting heavier a decision was made to end the game when evenly poised in the 25th over.
The following day was a much better day for cricket and a full days play was possible. Several of the Dutch players had to go home early because of the continued air embargo but their side still remained a formidable one.
Spain won the toss and elected to field. They had one change from the previous day with strike bowler Tanveer Iqbal replacing Irshan Khan. It was Tanveer´s strike partner Talat Ali who did the initial damage however, placing both openers back in the pavillion with only 10 scored. All the home sides bowlers continued to bowl well throughout the VOC innings and wickets fell at regular intervals.
A middle order effort from Van Everdingen (58) helped salvage the score but the visitors were all out for a below par 177 off 48 of their allocated 50 overs.Talat, Tanveer and Akmal all took 2 wickets apiece and youngster Christian Munoz Mills put in a fine performance to return impressive figures of one for 39 from his 10 overs.
Spain again opened with Armaghan and Spencer and both looked composed in the opening stand of 32 before Armaghan was bowled by Van Herschot. Spencer continued to flourish and with his Alfas team mate Gary Crompton also batting assuredly the Spanish total began to get manacingly close to the required 178 runs for victory.
When Crompton was finally caught for 56 with the score on 152 victory for the hosts looked imminent. Spencer kept his cool to end 79 not out and Morgan ensured no hiccoups at the other end with a sensible 13 not out to give the Spanish team a commendable 8 wicket victory.
Spain can look back on these games with a great deal of pride, knowing they competed positively against a strong team who in previous visits to La Manga have taken the spoils. The team are showing continued progress under the guidance of coach Bobby Denning and the signs are good for the rest of the season for the Spanish national squad.