Reeling from sleep deprivation, sambuca consumption and the absence of the injured Jeff, Orange lurched back to the Campo de Beisbol y Softbol for a second helping of what they’d actually come to Valencia for. Despite the later start, it seemed even hotter but skipper Ashberry negotiated to field first as planned.
The idea was that Levante, having scored very slowly for 10 overs the previous day, might not be accustomed to the hurly-burly of 20 over cricket.
That notion disappeared from view as rapidly as the ball fizzed to the boundary as Taz and Dan’s opening salvo went for a dispiriting 12 an over.
The problem of running up onto the raised board supporting the pitch seemed just as tricky as it had done on the Saturday. The baseball ground is in the fascinating setting of a dried-up river bed but the way Levante batted it was as if the Túria was back in full flood. With Jeff nursing his bad back, the bowling options seemed suddenly alarmingly thin. But Orange gradually got to grips with this much-changed Levante XI, despite some lax fielding and Bobby hurting his toe.
The skipper, Tomsy and Zahoor (the latter top of the tour bowling averages) sent down economical spells but Lawsy was the pick of the bunch, bowling three overs for just 13 and taking the wicket of Mark Green who skied a catch to wicketkeeper Scott. Scott also claimed a run out victim, despite the fact his throw hit a plastic water bottle which had been placed behind the stumps and didn’t dislodge the bails. Credit to the Levante batsman for walking anyway.
What looked initially as if it might be a total of 200+ transpired to be “only” 158-2. Daunting, but at least within the realms of what we had scored before. And Orange restored much pride by coming within a whisker of chasing down their target with arguably one of the best ever all-round batting displays – and that was despite the fact the two batting heroes of the first game, Bobby and Dan, were both dismissed for single figures and trooped back from the middle chuntering about not being out. Every one of the top 7 all found the boundary at least once, with Taz, Flynny and Scott all retiring and Tomsy only perishing to an excellent catch in the deep after he’d reached 26.
Taz’s innings was a classic, including one thumping six which flew clean over the fence and in amongst the Spanish families out for a Sunday stroll as he retired for 25 off just 13 balls.
Flynny surpassed his previous day’s knock on his way to topping the tour batting averages and Scott remembered he could bat after all after a stop-start season of largely putting himself in at number 11. Wides and no balls were helping the cause – we were even given a free hit at one stage – and ten off the 17th over left Orange with a gettable 26 to win off the last three overs. Lawsy had already hit two fours on his way to an unbeaten 16 but it was left to him to run some super-quick singles and twos at the death.
Suffice to say we fell six runs short as Pilkington and Khilan sent down some accurate overs at the end but it was a stirring effort. Levante had sportingly lent us Sam as an 11th man but we couldn’t help thinking that having Jeff’s accuracy in our bowling attack would have made all the difference.
Huge thanks again to Levante – and Barry Eaton in particular – for their hospitality and help in organising the tour.