With Madrid CC’s status as the ECCL Spain 40 over Champions already confirmed, the only thing that stood between Jon’s sweaty palms and the trophy was the trifling matter of fielding a team for the final fixture of the year.
With bodies proving hard to come by, and the situation growing desperate, the author of this report began hijacking zoom meetings with non-sequitur references to the Duckworth-Lewis rule just to see if anything stuck.
Amazingly, this tactic came up trumps, and so it came to pass that Rupert of Plymouth and Sean of Montreal joined Madrid CC for their final 3 fixtures of the season. Together with a ceramic hip, plenty of laughter and a combined cricketing experience consisting of one game in Wales in 1994, Madrid CC’s pathway to cricketing immortality looked assured.
Sarurday saw Madrid CC take on Levante CC in their last 2 T20s of the league season. Despite being able to call on such rich cricketing pedigree, a lost toss and a decidedly wayward bowling attack got things off to a shaky start. Gali set the tone with a couple of wides in the first over, which Rob, eager to emulate his captain, gamely bettered by bowling four in his first four deliveries at first change. Our fielding proved little better with Rupert face planting on cue the first time the ball trickled his way and injuring his shoulder, while Sean hobbled around at deep fine leg on his ceramic hip saving the odd single and breaking three different Canadian national cricketing records in the process.
Some rapid pace from Imran, a strong recovery from Gali, kept the scoreboard at bay but it was James who stole the show with some miserly bowling, knocking over Levante’s opener in the process and ending with impressive figures of 1-17 after his allotted four overs.
But asides from that, wickets proved hard to come by and with plenty still left in the shed the Levante batters started to open up, taking Gali for 20 off his final over and hitting a string of sixes off Sven’s bowling, also a new recruit, although the Jo-burg man got his revenge as the second of Levante’s opening pair departed caught.
Set a total of 155 to win, Gali and Jon set a strong platform, and after Gali departed for 17 Jon really got into his stride hitting several of his trademark sixes over cow corner, before departing caught for 59. With some brief cameos from Sven and Rob, Imraan was left to do the bulk of the remaining work including some glorious straight drives for six taking Madrid over the line with an over to spare and ending on 40 not out.
Match 2 saw Levante’s captain Zain score an impressive 51 but with two wickets apiece for Gali and Imran including a wicket maiden and some nicely taken catches. James could have had three himself but for a couple of dropped catches and after several extremely optimistic lbw shouts, Rob finally wore the umpire down after Victor had earmarked his target from behind the stumps. However, with Jon getting pumped for 20 in his one over, Levante’s total stood at 145.
After an incredibly strong start from Gali (36) and Jon (56) with more of Jon’s trademark sixes and a beauty from Gali in the same direction, Madrid were in a strong position. However Jon had a harder time getting their captain Zain away, an accurate leg spinner who strung together a series of dot balls and eventually removed Jon who was caught out (how often does a batsmen score two fifties in a single day?).
From his chair by the side of the pitch Imran observed casually that clearly the way to play Mr. Zain was to advance down the wicket and take him on the full – a tactic that worked wonders as Zain proceeded to clean bowl Imran for 1. At this point the rate slowed considerably, but Victor and Sven kept the scoreboard ticking with some enterprising running leaving Madrid 5 to win off the final over. With the Madrid team on their feet in the dugout, cool as a cucumber James hit the final runs clipping away a full toss for four in a tense final over to take Madrid to 2/3 for the weekend.
Sunday’s 40 over match against the Intellectuals was a different matter entirely. With a few celebratory lager beers the night before and a bit of practice under their belts the lightning Madrid pace attack got stuck into their work, with a relentless display of aggression and accuracy. Gali set the tone with 2 maidens from his first two overs and followed it up with two difficult high swirling catches and Imran kept the pressure up conceding only 3 runs of his first two overs. Madrid caught just about everything that the intellectuals sent skyward, including a caught and bowled for both Gali and Rob, and a sharp take behind the stumps from Victor, leaving Rob on a hattrick ball which was barely fended off the top of off stump.
The only batsman who had played a shot with any kind of intent took a blow to the helmet from Imran, and departed shortly afterwards. From then on the intellectuals’ batting line up began to fold like a cheap suit with their tail end looking like they would prefer to be put out of their misery.
Rob finished with 3 wickets and Imran and Gali with 2 apiece, Imran knocking over their final two batsmen to finish as the top wicket-taker for the season – joint with Victor’s mother’s grandaughter’s boyfriend (true story). Some good stops from Sven on the boundary and David at mid off and a sharp run out from James while nobody seemed to be paying attention ensured the Intellectuals, who only had 10 men to call on, were all bowled out for 55.
After Jon departed, Gali and Imran chased down this meagre total with ease with Imran hitting a couple off epic straight drives for six to round of a highly successful end to the season. Campiones, campiones, ole ole ole!
Robert Cobbold – Madrid Cricket Club