Levante v The Ducks
The Ducks may or may not be a great name for a cricket team. If you are referring to the bowlers and their effect on opposition batting then it may be inspired. The Ducks came from Oxfordshire to Valencia to see whether the name was appropriate to their batting or bowling.
Midweek team skipper Graham won the toss on a steaming hot early May Day in Valencia and decided cruelly to make the Ducks suffer 40 hatless overs in the sun, oh not quite true, one of them had a Mexican sombrero. This was mostly due to Shoaib being a late call off and Harsha rushing in to play in his place. Experimental opening partnership of Barry and Bhavin started well and at drinks both were undefeated with Barry beating Bhavin to the half century by virtue of actually scoring some runs in the first twelve overs.
Bhavin had bigger plans for the day though, namely ticking off Rhys Morgan, as the latter toiled away in the heat as a teacher. After drinks, Barry quickly fell for a personal best 70 but not before taking three boundaries on the trot in an over to long off, backward point and cover meaning that his wagon wheel no longer resembled a single spoke behind square. This brought Kiwi Dave to the crease and his 16 included the surprising highlight of being outscored in a fifty stand by Bhavin who had gone up into second gear by now.
Hunt had the albatross given to England Captains and soon perished caught behind (it was off my feckin arm) for a single before Orville joined Bhavin for a rapidfire 84 stand with Orville getting dropped on one and making the Ducks pay by bludgeoning 47 stylish runs. At the other end Bhavin continued to a chanceless century. Jaggi was next in and actually blocked a ball first up with just three overs left to the stunned amazement of everyone in the huge crowd and his dog.
By this time WhatsApp messages were informing Morgan that his club record had gone after Bhavin had given his only chance on 107 which had been spurned, and he finished unbeaten on 139. 299 runs in 40 overs and the Ducks were tucking into an excellent tea wondering about the chase.
In reply the Ducks proved they were no mugs with the bat and not one batsman lived up to their name. The openers Garlick and Horncastle showed class in abundance in setting about the bowling but got really lucky as the impressive Martin had two catches dropped in the first over as well as beating the bat regularly. Roger came on to stem the flow of runs but it was second change Harsha who stopped the rot and put an end to an eighty run plus opening stand in the 9th over by capturing Horncastle for a well made 36 before doubling up with an excellent catch behind by a relieved Barry getting Thompson for two.
Evans joined opener Garlick in giving more stick out to Richard before Kiwi Dave came on and took a wicket with his first ball for Levante CC. The less said the better about his second ball which would have missed another track. Speaking of the track by now the formerly pristine Levante wicket resembled a Crazy golf course as the heat of the day lifted the boards and balls were shooting or climbing according to which part of the slope they were landing on. (We may be well advised to bat first this year as most of our home games will be during the steaming summer) Kiwi Dave quickly doubled up with the wicket of McMullan before Wallis arrived to give it some tap putting together a fast 38. At the other end however wickets were falling as West and Taylor each took two and Jaggi picked up Wallis with the tail falling away.
The final wicket fell leaving the Ducks short on 211, not a bad effort at all after the day’s heat and having the worst of the pitch. Penalty Pig was gorged thanks to ten dropped catches, a few misfields for four and various other spurious reasons and the teams looked forward to Saturday’s 20/20 to come.
The teams arrived at the vcg early to the bad news that the baseball game was only in the sixth innings and one of the teams was seriously stinking the place out with the bases loaded and runs being piled on. Eventually finishing at 7.10 Levante quickly put out the boards which had recovered from the previous day and again decided to bat.
Only two survivors from the previous day’s team meant that a new opening partnership started with Captain Scott of the Antarctic and Rhys “the avenger” Morgan starting up the innings. Morgan was determined to take back his record from Bhavin set the previous day despite this being just twenty overs and was mortified to hear that if he got to fifty he would be retired. 69 runs were put on by the opening partnership before Scott fell for 30 (in just 20 balls) what proved to be very sweaty runs, scampering twos eight times and plenty of singles to close fielders was hot work.
Taking off his helmet coming off we discovered Scott’s head had shrunk to half its previous size. If anyone needs to beat Alfas it is Scott as the long hair makes him more Robinson Crusoe like every day and until we beat them it stays. Morgan was joined by Ali who decided he really liked the aerial route and started smashing it to all parts. Morgan reached his 50 off just 32 balls and reluctantly departed with a few choice swear words towards the absent Bhavin and planning a new career away from teaching (bank robbery was mentioned) so he gets to play midweek matches too.
This brought Graham to the crease and he stood at one end making himself as small as possible as Ali continued to smash the leather out of everything before again retiring after reaching 50 off 24 balls. Usman took his bat off Ali and continued the onslaught before falling for 22 off 12. Harsha joined Graham at the crease and scored a quick 10 off 5 before the innings closed with Graham unbeaten 44 off 27 balls. A final score of 219 off 20 overs with every batsman having scored at over one a ball was daunting under the VCG lights.
In reply the Ducks’ innings started in the worst possible way as they reversed their batting order to give everyone a chance. Kyle took two wickets in the first over and conceded just two runs in his two overs. Usman started with a wicket maiden and Sam beat the bat five times in a row without bothering to bowl one straight and get a wicket before a misfield by Graham gave the Ducks a run. Captain Scott then started to go mad by bringing Graham on to bowl and despite this the scoring rate never really increased with Usman taking another wicket at the other end as the pressure increased.
It was at this point that Scott decided to give the Ducks a chance and he brought himself on in an attempt to take away the record held by Dave Tivey of the most runs scored in an over. However Wallis was no Tariq and only managed to take 21 off the first over. Bruno replaced Usman at the other end and got angry after the first ball went for four by bowling five dots past the edge of the bat but just like Sam before him failing to hit the stumps.
Scott was more parsimonious in his second over with just ten coming from it before a team hat trick and four wickets in four balls from a run out, two Bruno bowled and then Scott getting revenge on Wallis meant a collapse to eventually fall short of the target by over 130 runs as The Qasim Express and the return of Sam finished the innings off.
The last of the thirteen wickets needed to force a victory went down just before 11 o clock and the Ducks were treated to an excellent paella, copious beers and a surprise huge firework display by Valencia council. All in all a good weekend workout for Levante with plenty of runs scored, lots of good bowling displays, a mixture of fielding displays and 20 different players getting a game. Thanks to the Ducks for providing the opposition and we look forward to another visit in the future.