Menorca Cricket Club (Tour Match 1) – 29th April 2017
“A tough international debut for the BLads”
By Max Bennett
The inaugural Bloody Lads game on foreign soil was hotly anticipated to say the least. More accurately, levels of excitement were off the charts. In the words of Wyclef Jean, filmed by Matt Ross in the Caribbean the night before, “Bloody Lads on tour: ready or not, here we come baby!”
Some were more ready than others, Friday’s tequilas taking their toll on certain tourists, notably regular wicketkeeper Max Bennett who was forced to relinquish the gloves after his breakfast made an all too swift reappearance. Minesh Patel took up the mantel, and after skipper Caius Pawson lost the toss, the BLads strode out into the field to take on Menorca’s finest.
The opening pair of Joe Ridout and Sheldon Greenland dovetailed beautifully, asking questions of the batsmen’s technique outside off stump, Ridout with an early maiden. After a few boundaries, the breakthrough came, and the first wicket of the tour was a contender for wicket of the season. Ridout shaped one away from Sturgeon, finding the edge, and Anthony Wilcox took an absolute screamer of a one-handed catch, low to his left. He seemed to defy physics as he plucked it from behind him. The BLads went wild.
It was to prove a rare moment of joy as the batsmen began to make steady progress. Opener Rousel had gotten his eye in and took three 4s from Ben Parker’s first over, though Parker would only concede three more in his entire spell, as he bowled through his 8 overs with increasing confidence and accuracy. Gary O’Brien replaced Ridout from the other end and proved the most economical of the BLads’ bowling, just 24 runs coming from his 5 overs. Tewari and Rousel were looking set and edging towards their 50 partnership when Rousel pulled up on 49 as he set off for a single, a third of the way down the track, clutching at his calf. The spirit of cricket shone through as the BLads rushed to his aid, rather than to dislodge his bails. Agonisingly close to his 50, he retired hurt and Umer Razi strode out, Menorca 80-1 from 16 overs.
The number 3 and 4 batsmen proved a frustrating pair for the Bloody Lads, as chances to snaffle them went begging. Parker found Sid Tewari’s edge early but Minesh Patel couldn’t hold on, Tewari’s charmed life continuing as both he and Razi were dropped in the deep. The pair punished the Lads’ profligacy, moving past their 50 partnership with boundaries flowing, Jack Ensor and a returning Greenland unable to find a breakthrough with their 2 overs each. In an unusual and exciting moment, Sheldon pulled up as he steamed in, instantly tearing his shirt off and drawing gasps from the sidelines. He’d been stung by a wasp mid run-up, and as antihistamines were gathered, Alex Gibson remarked on Minesh’s “optimistic quantity of condoms” in his tour toiletries’ bag.
Ensor made way for Ben Boorman. Tony, the diminutive Boycott-esque septuagenarian Yorkshireman and resident MCC umpire, asked for the bowler’s action, Boorman replying “right arm over, absolute rubbish”. Tony announced to the batsmen that “right arm over, good rubbish” was coming their way, and right he was, Boormski hitting the spot immediately. “This is egg and beans with added Tabasco sauce”, howled Bennett in delight. The wicket finally came, Boormski and Parker combining to break up the partnership and snare Razi for a nicely taken 30 from 41 balls. Having taken 29 overs to get the second wicket, and with Menorca gathering 155 runs in the process, the Bloody Lads’ relief was palpable.
“One brings two” was the call, and it proved true, Karl Mathiesen capping an incredibly good spell with his last ball, Caius Pawson catching Barker sharply at mid-off. Mathiesen’s figures of 5-0-38-1 don’t tell the story of the supreme aestheticism of his bowling. Menorca were 189-3 from 32 overs, and the Lads looked to turn the screw.
Sheldon, having recovered from his sting, returned, as did Ridders, and immediately rattled the batsmen. Stanley Leeson took an absolute screamer of a catch running at full pelt, arms aloft on the boundary from Sheldon’s bowling, seemingly taking the dangerous-looking Hayden cheaply. As the Lads roared in celebration, a dejected Leeson saw that the effort had taken him over the boundary and a 6 was registered in the immaculately colour-coded book of legendary Menorca scorer Jen. The ‘phantom catch’ was phenomenal and will live long in the tourists’ memory, but the batsmen remained.
The breakthrough came in the next over though, and was another early contender for wicket of the season. Ridout drew the danger man Tewari, sitting pretty on 85 and scoring boundaries for fun at this stage, into a pull and Sheldon Greenland took one of the best catches I’ve ever seen, on the run, diving one-handed down to his right at mid-wicket. The BLads were ecstatic. Henry Blofeld, AKA Blowers, an MCC regular, sat quaffing rosé on the sidelines in a delightful lime green shirt / yellow trouser combination, remarked in his inimitable way that it was a “truly magnificent catch”. Tewari had hit ten 4s and a 6 for his 85, and with Menorca at 226-4, the BLads were glad to see the back of him.
Opposition skipper Simon Cotton strode out and proceeded to counter-punch with the reprieved Hayden, five 6s coming as the BLads’ openers struggled in vain for another wicket. Ridout finished with the better figures of 8-1-50-2, Cotton remained undefeated on 22, Hayden on 35 as they put on a quick-fire 44 together. Menorca came into the clubhouse on 267-4, definitely above par, and the Bloody Lads facing a testing innings ahead of them.
As it turned out the BLads made harder work of it than could have been anticipated. Pawson and Gibson opened up, and Gibbo was an early casualty, mistiming a pull off Hayden’s bowling and dollying it up to Tewari at square leg. Quackers, one of Jen’s two cuddly ducks, was marched out of her hut and pinned to the scoreboard as a dejected Gibson strode off the field and made his way promptly to the bar.
Leeson marched out to the wicket only to be turned around instantly by Tony for failing to remove his spikes. In the confusion, he was sent off to change his footwear and Bennett was hurriedly marshalled out to face the first ball of the second over, from skipper Cotton. It was to be his only one of the day. Having thought he’d run a perfectly placed cutter down towards third man and setting off for a run, he was greeted with an ecstatic Cotton on the charge, Sturgeon at first slip having taken a Wilcox-esque screamer. Jen replaced Quackers in the ‘Last Man’ section of the scoreboard with her golden-hued mallard cousin Titch, the BLads now looking ropey at 0-2.
Leeson by this point had found a pair of trainers, and walked out to join Pawson for a second time as the pair looked to steady the ship. The waters though proved decidedly choppy, Hayden following up his wicket-maiden with two further maidens and Cotton keeping things tight at the other end too. The Lads toiled to the 8th over for as many runs before another victim fell, Pawson stumped sharply by Tysoe from Cotton’s bowling.
Ensor made his way to the crease and the Lads started to accumulate runs, the pair turning the strike nicely and hitting the BLads’ first international boundaries. In truth though, the bowling was miserly, Cotton ending his spell in his fifth over with impressive figures of 5-1-19-2.
The change brought an end to the brief deadlock, the canny spin of Umer Razi trapping Ensor LBW for 12 with the last ball of his first over. Another maiden from Hayden followed, meaning newcomer to the crease Ben Boorman met his first ball from Razi. His eyes lit up, his arms swung big, but failure to connect saw the turning ball clatter his stumps, and another emergence from Jen’s hut for Titch, the golden duck. The hat-trick ball was weathered by recent arrival Sheldon Greenland, the BLads sitting at 28-5 at the finish of that 14th over. The pre-tour social media handle of #Pray4TheBLCC seeming all too prescient.
Whatever offerings were sent out into the ether, the cricketing Gods failed to answer. After yet more constricting bowling from Hayden, his spell ending with remarkable figures of 8-4-6-1, Sid Tewari, Menorca’s batting hero, came on. He had an immediate impact, Tysoe taking off Leeson’s bails for his second stumping of the game. Stanlicks had occupied the crease for nearly an hour and had looked assured for his 11.
Ben Parker was next up and it wasn’t long before Tewari struck again, the two spinners astonishingly seeming to find uneven bounce on the artificial strip, Parker falling fowl to just such a delivery, bowled for 3. Tewari’s wicket maiden meant he now had two wickets from his two overs, for only two runs conceded. The BLads were 38-7 and all but defeated.
That didn’t stop the Bloody Lads’ spirit shining through as Minesh Patel made his way to the crease. He and Greenland survived a quiet couple of overs then began hitting big. Boundaries came, to the delighted cheers of the Bloody faithful on the sidelines, Greenland hitting three 4s and Minesh grabbing one too. The partnership was short-lived though as that tricky spinners’ bounce told for Shelly, bowled by Razi for his 16. It was to be his final over, his spell finishing 6-0-19-3.
Gary O’Brien joined Minesh in the middle. While Tewari remained Scrooge-like from one end, the removal of Razi brought some respite for the BLads as they targeted newcomer Ball. Minesh hit him for a glorious 6, the Bloody Lads’ first on foreign soil, and Gary got in on the act too, grabbing three 4s. Maybe the excitement got too much as Tewari struck yet again, trapping Minesh LBW and ending his top-scoring knock of 20 prematurely. The newly-arrived Joe Ridout saw out the over to leave Tewari with extraordinary figures of 5-2-7-3, and coupled with his knock, a clear Man of the Match performance. The ringer from New Delhi, flown in from Barcelona with his BICC teammate Razi, was a real vibesman, despite his favourite Man Utd cap. We later learnt he’d tabled an AGM motion to rename their team the Barcelona International Cunts Club.
The BLads sat at 68-9 and after some more derisory treatment for Ball from Gary, it was all over, the change Strudwick getting O’Brien caught in the deep, the Bloody Lads all out for 89.
So the first international Bloody Lads fixture ended with a loss, but vibes remained astronomically high throughout. It had been a valiant fight, but the BLads were left as battered and bruised as Klitschko and Joshua in that evening’s heavyweight fight of the century. Thankfully, they were still contenders and there would be another title shot the following day, that elusive first foreign ‘W’ firmly in the tourists’ sights.
MOTM: Karl Mathiesen
Menorca Cricket Club (Tour Match 2) – 29th April 2017 – The corker in Menorca
“Chelsea could be relegated today and I wouldn’t even care”
By Stan Grant
The BLCC returned to Menorca CC for the second game of their tour a+er sampling the best, and the not so best, that this Balearic playground had to offer. With several BLads reeling from the night before they responded to the call and once more threw themselves into the breach.
A+er the previous days humbling at the hands of a strong Menorca side the BLads knew that they would have their work cut out squaring the series. Captain Caius Pawson and Alex Gibson took the field looking to get the BLCC off to a good start. A+er playing the finest of late cuts Gibson fell to the young J Davies for 6.
Max Benne7 joined Caius at the crease and, for a while, the pair looked solid. A+er a blocky 6 Max became Davies’ second wicket with a scorching yorker. Anthony Wilcox was next to stroll out just about having Nme to take guard before strolling back to the pavilion as a result of gloving his first ball through to the wicket keeper.
Iceland’s favourite adopted son Ben Boorman was in next. Ben and Caius kept the scoreboard moving. Bajng for 44 minutes and 41 balls in scoring 6 Caius became Davies’ fourth wicket. Li7le did they know that this might have been the wicket that lost them the game. In came Jack Ensor dispatching his first ball for 4 in dismissive style.
There were high hopes that this pairing could rescue what was starNng to look like a perilous situaNon for our beloved BLads. Ben moved the ball around nicely before becoming Davies’ fi+h wicket for 9. The Menorca born and bred wonderkid had not only parNed with the BLCC vanguard unNl the early hours but also dismissed the top five BLCC ba7ers for only 14 runs. Well bowled.
Stan Grant ba7led a sNnker of a hangover to go out and cream a one straight to point a+er three balls. Maybe he wasn’t hungover and sNll drunk. At 26-6 things were looking truly dire for the BLads and, to be honest, a li7le embarrassing. Had they come all this way to be rolled easily in both games? Not if Jack and new batsman Minesh Patel had anything to do with it.
Jack and Minesh set out about stabilising the sinking ship. With Minesh looking solid Jack started demolishing some second string bowlers. Moving quickly through the gears with an array of shots that led the returning Blowers to remark “this Kiwi is some player”. Four followed four interspersed with a sma7ering of huge sixes. With a well-cra+ed 18 Minesh eventually fell to Sid.
Removing his stylish blazer Stanley Leeson tro7ed out to the middle. With trademark determinaNon Stanley blocked the hell out of it. Scoring 3 but, more importantly, sNcking around so Jack could conNnue his heroics. Some Ndy glove work saw Stanley stumped and Karl Mathiesen coming to
the crease. Being new to the number 10 spot Karl made himself at home. Meanwhile, Jack cruised past 50 and marched towards a century. His big hijng and speed between the wickets demoralised bowlers and fielders alike. Each blow drew larger cheers from a crowd sensing a comeback might well be on the cards.
Looking unbeatable Jack scampered a quick two to bring up his maiden Menorcan ton. It seemed as though the crowd were sNll celebraNng Jack’s milestone when he was bowled for a 100. However, with the home team’s scorer having Jack dismissed on 99 a potenNal internaNonal incident was averted thanks to the smooth talking of Stanley Leeson, “chapeau” as he would say.
With only a couple of overs to go Sheldon Greenland was the final BLaddy batsman at the wicket. Karl conNnued with his cultured innings, finishing on 27 not out, as Sheldon took full advantage of some lollypop bowling and peppered the surrounding fields in scoring 40 not out from only 18 balls. Closing the innings on 231-9 the BLads had gone from looking like defeat was certain to being favourites for the win. Amazing stuff.
Opening up the Menorca innings were, friends and fellow diners, Umer and Sid. A+er much chat the night before the pair showed their worth pujng on 40 in the first 10 overs. Joe and Sheldon opened the bowling with a mixture of swing from Joe (7-0-41-0) and pace from Shel (4-0-24-1). Caius decided to employ Sheldon in short spells and Stan (8-1-21-2) came into the a7ack in the 5th over. Umer wa+ed at a few and edged one just short of Max’s gloves before being pouched at 1st slip by a jubilant Wilco.
Sheldon came back into the a7ack and quickly took the wicket of the second opener with a ball of such pace that the ra7le of the stumps can sNll be heard echoing over the Mediterranean sea. With Tim and the young Davies at the wicket Menorca started to build their total. Davies took a liking to the bowling of the evergreen Gary O’Brien (6-0-39-2) dispatching him for 4,6,4 in the balls leading up to him chasing a wide one and edging it to Max. A great wicket to take with Davies looking to take the game away from the BLads. Boas followed for a duck and the BLads started to feel things were going their way.
Brayne was the next to fall trying to pull Stan and top edging one which Max shot round and grabbed. Luckily Joe avoided injury a+er colliding with Max’s le+ elbow. With Menorca six down the BLads could see the finish line in sight. Some Nght bowling from Stan added to the pressure on the MCC ba7ers. Ben Parker (8-3-26-3) came into the a7ack from the Pavillion End and quickly added to the MCC woes in taking the wicket of Tim quickly followed by Rousell and a third breaking the heart of Truelove. Ben Boorman (4-1-18-1) took the 9th wicket by which Nme the game had gone from the MCC.
With the MCC finishing 38 short the BLads took their first win on foreign soil. A rapturous win and an unthinkable comeback of Joshua like proporNons. A win so fine that Caius was heard to say “Chelsea could be relegated today and I wouldn’t even care”. Huge words there from the skipper but a feeling that was shared by all. The BLads were able to return home to Blighty with their heads held high.
A truly amazing experience for all. Bring on the next tour!
MOTM: Jack Ensor
|Alex Gibson||c. Tewari b. Davies||6||7||-||-|
|Caius Pawson*||c. Will b Davies||6||41||-||-|
|Max Bennett||b. Davies||5||19||-||-|
|Anthony Wilcox*||c. Tewari b. Davies||0||1||-||-|
|Ben Boorman||b. Davies||9||15||-||-|
|Jack Ensor||b. Unknown||100||76||-||-|
|Stan Grant||c. Unknown b. Hayden||0||5||-||-|
|Minesh Patel||b. Sid||18||17||-||-|
|Stan Leeson||st. WK b. Side||3||18||-||-|
|Karl Mathiesen||Not Out||27||26||-||-|
|Sheldon Greenland||Not Out||40||18||-||-|