Madrid CC 1st XI v Valencia Stallions 1st XI – LEAGUE MATCH
Sunday 17th April 2016 – Haras Polo ground, San Fernando, Madrid
When your football team is comfortably winning its match by a couple of goals as you enter the final minute, and the opposition snatches a point by dramatically scoring twice in the dying moments, well, such was the feeling for Madrid on the cricket field, as the points were shared against Valencia Stallions in a tense tie. Is there any other type?
Electing to bat first, the visiting Stallions didn’t horse around – they attempted to dominate the bowling by playing expansive shots, but the surface didn’t lend itself to such extravagance, and Madrid made early inroads with the ball, containing the visitors well.
Ted Teddles Miller in particular demonstrated his reliability, proving difficult to get away and causing frustration with his nagging seamers. He ripped out four of the top six and reduced the Stallions to 56 for five, as their gallop was reduced to barely a trot in the cool breeze, and Ted finished with commendable figures of nine overs, 4 for 21.
No batsman ever really felt comfortable and runs were hard to come by with any great regularity, due in part to the sluggish outfield, and also the spongey, sitty-uppy surface – Stallions only managed three fours in their innings, although a couple of decent connections yielded maximums, too. Kiwi Brad Pitt Newall, making his 2016 debut for Madrid, was an effective change bowler and can count himself unfortunate not to secure more than his three wickets, returned in a probing four-over spell.
With Iain Griffiths’ twirling off-breaks to finish the innings, the home team went into the break (for a quick nosebag) the happier team, having bowled out the Stallions for just 101 in a shade under 29 overs. Iain finished with two for 12, as the tail-enders succumbed to his flight and guile, and Madrid sniffed an opportunity to grab their first league victory.
Madrid’s reply was initially placed in the hands of Adam No Glove Punch Langhans, and Richard Ranga Wilson, however Adam was unlucky when fending off a difficult delivery to first slip in the initial over, with the fielder grabbing the catch at the second attempt after initially parrying it in the air above his head. A promising partnership between Richard and Ankush Solanki followed, however, with both players displaying caution and audacity in equal measure, before Richard was cleaned up, shortly followed by last week’s centurion, President Sir Jon Woodward.
At a precarious 31 for three, Madrid seemed to be allowing the Stallions back into the game, however Joe Voice of Reason Healey displayed the requisite composure when he joined the elegant Ankush at the crease. Their partnership of 49 pushed the game firmly back in Madrid’s favour, and at 80 for three, with just 21 further runs required, the writing seemed to be on the wall for the visitors – Madrid were moving at a canter. However, the Stallions, perhaps ironically, started to feel right at home at the polo ground and they forced Madrid’s middle order into some nervous shots. Five wickets were taken in the space of the subsequent eight overs, including top-scoring Ankush for an attractive 57 (which included four sixes), and Stallions had the scent of an unlikely victory in their equine nostrils, as Madrid bolted.
Vociferous appeals attracted positive decisions from both umpires, and suddenly Madrid were 92 for eight, with Iain Griffiths the lone batsman showing that this was no rodeo, and that grit was required. Stallions applied enough pressure to take one more wicket, and at 99 for nine, it was left to Sunil Balani to join Iain to try to find a mere three further runs to cross the finish line.
A scampered two from Sunil resulted in the away team’s fielders converging around the bat in an attempt to grab the final wicket, and, with the scores level, Sunil obliged by slicing the next ball to slip, where the ball was neatly taken. Madrid had been bowled out in the 32nd over for 101, with Iain stranded on 10.
With the scores tied at 101, the teams ultimately shared the spoils, but alas, for Madrid, it felt like a chance missed.