Daniel Walker describes the weekend’s cricket from a Madrid cricketer’s perspective after reflecting on their two league victories over La Manga/Torrevieja CC and Torre Pachecho CC.
BONALBA 9th & 10th April 2022
The clocks have sprung forward, winter is officially over, masks are just days away from being history and it’s a huge sporting week for Madrid. Both of the capitals main football teams are involved in champions league quarter finals, Carlos Sainz is racing in the Australian GP for Ferrari, the Spanish Rugby Union team are still celebrating qualification for the 2023 World Cup with a victory over Portugal over on the rugby pitch at our training base at Universidad de Complutense. Now, Madrid Cricket Club kick off the 2022 ECCL 40 over league campaign with two crunch home games.
After the typical, terrible spanish weather had robbed us of the opportunity to fight for glory in the recent European Cricket Series event in Cartama (which would have sent Jon rushing to the nearest Ikea to purchase a trophy cabinet), it was vital for Madrid CC to start the season with a bang and to cement our new international reputation whilst beginning to repay the faith placed on us by an armada of ultras and fantasy cricket gurus which we assume must now be somewhere in the billions.
Being a home game, we had the short trip down to Bonalba, a stunning golf resort just outside the M-50 on the A-3. The club van which is basically Air Force One was the first to go and was especially packed out for the season opener with new pads, new bats, brand spanking new whites, the President, our Australian opener, our former Club Secretary, our Social Media Director and with our new recruit from Nottinghamshire safely strapped in, our Kiwi captain just about made it IN, by the BAREST of margins. Thankfully he did though (more on that later) and by 1730 all three vehicles had set off from HQ.
By 2130 all of us had arrived, we checked out the scenery, checked into the rooms and just as 11 of us were about to walk through the doors of the hotel gimnasium, the Captain, via Whatsapp, summoned us for a team meeting at a nearby location called Mama Mia… very very frightening indeed, so as fast as lightning we left, Galileo let me bowl, cried a voice but that is where the fun stopped. After a well thought out inspirational speech which could have quite easily been Coach Carter, Simeone or Winston Churchill rallying up the troops, the hair dryer came out and that dreaded message was dropped, “so lads, we are 12 for tomorrow, any volunteers?” Jokes aside, big shout out to Gali for handling the most complicated moment of any trip with grace and well done to Daniel King for stepping up, being a fantastic 12th man on Saturday and contributing to what was an amazing weekend of team spirit, unity and quality! (TOP OF THE LEAGUE, more on that later).
Saturday was upon us, we were ready, early, just as the captain had demanded the night before to greet our opponents La Manga to the ground, complete with Spanish internationals, they must have been shell shocked to find us warming up on the outfield, raring to go. “Erm, weren’t we playing Madrid?”
The challenge was set and the oppo were frightened, especially after witnessing our new Irish opening bowler Imran, currently fasting but still fast, wing down warm up balls that made our keeper Richard decide that inner gloves were a necessity. Does the club kit have inner gloves? No. But standard inner gloves were not going to be enough to take 8 overs of Imran heat anyway so Richard managed to find some pretty hefty gardening gloves from somewhere that required constant hand movement throughout the weekend.
That was the final ingredient, 450km from Madrid, check, 12 players, check, scary fast bowler, check, new team kit with names and numbers, check, umpires, check… BUT, just as players, supporters and officials were getting ready for the first toss of the season, AHHHH the owner of the key to the scorebox had not arrived!!! A man, holding a simple piece of metal had just become as important as Frodo and was about to single handedly take down our march to glory. Fortunately, Vincent, our match referee and essentially our Gandalf, was equipped with a communication device and managed to contact someone from Cricket España, the ECB and I assume the ICC. Just as hope was abandoning us, at 10:59, Frodo arrived!!! The key was returned to its lock, the shutters came up and we were ready with only a 15 minute delay, YAY!
Batting first, Adam and Anand came out to open. At first it was unclear if Gali had a cunning plan or if he had just decided the batting order alphabetically but after a few balls it was clear that the skipper knew! 55 run opening partnership in 10 overs, well done to both, seeing off the new ball and showing from the get go that Madrid CC meant business. Adam 38 off 38, Anand 11 off 30 and Captain Gali 29 off 52 set us on our way and let everyone else play with more freedom. Step up Sumon. The openers had given him enough time to pick which one of his 4 bats he wanted to use and thank f… for that. 47 balls, TEN 6s, four 4s, 88 runs. Brutal. SI SEÑOR. It was carnage. The owner of the field next door had reportedly won a legal battle against the golf club as too many golf balls from the driving range were making it over onto his land. This meant that the area was made into a cricket pitch, well Sumon was dishing out a nuevo problema. Massive hitting.
Drinks came and went, Sumons 6s continued. Gali was shouting instructions regarding the batting order from the non-strikers end but Sumons fun, and ours, came to an end, 2 maximos short of a ton that would have been spoken about for years. Our wee Irish fast bowler Imran came out to bat at 5, moved up the order to have enough time to play himself in… first ball… BIG SIX. This was going to be our day.
30 overs in, going strong, 223 runs on the board for only 3 wickets, talk in the stands of maybe 300? Gali gets out and I’m in, ready to take my chance for Madrid CC. My dad had made the trip down as well to provide support and witness a game live for the first time, scene was set, foundations laid… first ball, down leg side, miss… second ball, OUT, LBW for the game’s only duck. Next.
Fortunately Rich was next in to provide some stability and made sure that the good work was not undone, adding an important 22 runs off 19 balls and getting us up to 274 all out. A big score with a slow outfield and plenty of bowling options, Vamos Madrid!
Imran and our other very handy new recruit Sean opened the bowling. Perfect combination of pace and bounce at one end, swing and control at the other. La Manga have quality batsmen, technically correct, capable of hitting big shots off good balls, but 274 is a big target on this ground. Ravi got going and threatened for La Manga, one straight drive 6 that sticks in the memory but Sean made the breakthrough and bowled their captain Adam for 5 off 17. The score was moving along quite nicely, 39 for 1 in 5.4 overs, 52 for 2 in 8.1, 92 for 1 in the 12th, but then, step up Gali, the important wicket of Ravi caught by Adam. SCENES!
Akshay (his day was Sunday!) 4 overs 0-22, Mark 4 overs 0-27, Jon 2 overs 0-11 and an over from Maximo Sumon for just 4 runs really contributed to slowing down the run rate and sending the required rate up and up.
Whilst the runs dried up, man of the match Gali continued to bowl and found the right lines ending up with 7 for 51 off 8 overs with just the 2 wides which considering the swing being generated was very good. Madrid CC only 10 wides vs 25 for La Manga which is very good going!
Huge effort from all the bowlers against players that can clearly bat. Big mention for Sean, first game for Madrid CC, 7.5 overs, 3 for 39, well done!
For La Manga, very well batted Ravi 47 off 33 and Paul Hennessy, 82 off 65, proper shots and wasn’t 100% over until they got out.
So, big win by 78 runs, perfect start to the season and full points on the board!
Saturday night was upon us, talk of a trip to the beach was quickly put to bed with clouds in the sky and gusting wind to put off even the most British of us wanting to get into the sea at any cost. Mark not only recommends golf courses but will also recommend fine restaurants for a group of 13 on a Saturday night in Playa San Juan. After a session of team building, beer drinking and paella tasting was completed, attention turned to Sunday. GAME 2.
We arrived at the ground early again, feeling threatened by this new Mourinho-esq regime implemented by Capitan Galileo. No hangovers, no saw heads, just 12 athletes ready to be unleashed.
Fearing the worst and expecting to be dropped anyway, this match reporter informed the Captain of my decision to score the match on the boundary via the app whether he likes it or not, with a level of arrogance not seen since Nicklas Bentner announced that he was one of the best strikers in the world in 2010. Ok mate was the call.
Torre Pacheco won the toss (our captain is not a tosser) and we were bowling. We are top of the league, won 3 out of 4 games in the ECL, Imran is about to unleash hell… I’m just about working out how to move around the scoring app as in comes the first ball, hits the pad, BOOM, LBW. Fifth ball, BOOM, bowled. Imran was unplayable, 5.5 overs, 4 for 12. Sean chipping in again with a tidy no nonsense 2 for 17 off 5 overs. Gali was first change, bowling good lines again but instead of taking wickets, being a good captain he decided to leave the wickets for the rest of the team and just take 3 catches instead.
It really got going with Akshay though. After two full nights sleep with 0 party, 4 for 25 off 6 overs. Ripping through the Torre Pacheco resistance giving their 6, 7, 8 and 9 no chance.
Being on the sidelines, one can really appreciate just how loud Akshay is compared to everyone else! Well bowled, well deserved and keep that noise up in the field! Daniel King made his debut bowling but unfortunately for him, just at the same time of their only batsman who made runs, Jassie Singh (nickname must be Jessie J surely), was finding his range and Mark was also clearly not enjoying the sea brees as much as the day before either. Torre Pacheco bowled out for 116 in 22.5 overs.
We had ordered pizzas for 1400 but that was still a long way off. The AA opened the batting, this time an opening partnership of 30, relaxing the nerves, again and seeing off a few overs. Richard was bumped up the order and got unlucky with a C&B. Madrid CC, 38 for 2 off 6.3 overs. Would we throw it away with Adam and Maximo Sumon in the middle?
F… no! 79 off the next 42 balls. Adam finished with a 6, nice ;), 60 off 48 balls and Sumon with a no risk, no hassle 24 off 15.
40 points from 2 games, maximum points, already past last year’s tally after 1 weekend!!! What a weekend, what a team, our millions of followers around the world will be counting down the days until our next adventure. Massive shout out to everyone who took part, well deserved and we even have plenty of talent left waiting in Madrid to continue the good start. Vamos Madrid!!!
DANIEL WALKER – MADRID CRICKET CLUB.