What an incredible Valencia Smash! tournament it was. Two home sides from Levante CC and two from the south-east of England, Hoboes CC of Essex and Bidborough CC of Kent, offering a real test to the local boys who are also ECCL champions for 2019 at the T20 format.
Over the first two days we saw all teams play each other once, with the final day offering a third place play off and final before an evening of presentations, Tapas, Paella and a good few beers.
A warm and sunny Day one was so eventful and really set the tone for the whole occasion. With the two visiting sides playing the first game of the day, no side had any advantage in respect of experience on the artificial wicket. Both sides were a little delicate from the night before but this didn’t stop the sides smashing nearly 500 runs between them with Bidborough CC posting an enormous 278 for 4 from their 20 overs with Dan Page hammering 140 in 55 balls. Hoboes CC finished their innings with a more than respectable 218 for 6 but the Kent outfit took the points in the first match by 60 runs.
Match 2 was Levante Thunder, a side comprising of club members from both Levante CC and their friends at Barcelona International, against Hoboes CC. Winning the toss Hoboes CC chose to bat and put them straight to the sword with an impressive 241 for just 2 wickets with Andrew Kennedy on 82 and Darren Eckford on 71, both not out. The Thunder started well with captain Garvey and Alex Wollauz who scored 57 but no batsman after that would reach double figures and they ended up losing by 87 runs.
Match 3 was the final game of the day and Levante Lightning‘s first match. After an impressive start to the day against Hoboes, Bidborough who brought a very big squad made quite a few changes from match 1. Batting first, Bidborough did not go well and were all out for 114 in 15.2 overs following some exceptional bowling from the Lightning team. The hosts took 11.2 overs to reach the target and captain Shakeel made a sharp 53 in the process. Something for the visitors to remember however as during this innings, after not playing for a year, George Barret took a great hat trick with the ball. This lack of runs in this match and quick chase, could this be costly down the line?
Saturday was hot hot! Both blue skies and 30 degrees and some mesmerising cricket. Match four and first of the day was the local derby. Thunder against Lightning! With the Thunder put into bat, they struggled to get away the Lightning bowlers and finished all out with just 3 balls left of the innings and 138 runs on the board. 12.4 overs later, the game was over. Two wins from two for Lightning and no wins for Thunder meant they needed a strong performance in their 3rd and final match vs Bidborough.
Match 5, Bidborough won the toss and chose to bat. A solid performance with Eddie Grey the pick of the batsman with a classy 60. Needing 228 to win, the Thunder started well. Garvey and Wollauz again kept the score board moving and a good few batsman contributed with 20s and 30s, and all in double figures. Unfortunately none of the batsman could really pull away and although a much better performance, they fell short on 189 for 5. Thunder were out, Bidborough were well in it with 2 wins and waiting on the final match to see who would be in the final.
Match 6 and the final match of the round robin stage. Lightning were all but through, a solid net run rate was under their belt and aside from a total hammering, a place in the final was likely. Hoboes however had to win. If they did, with their previous performances, Bidborough who had beaten them on day 1 would be pushed to 3rd place. Hoboes CC won the toss and chose to bat. And bat they did, a destructive partnership of Julien Russell with 86 and Darren Eckford who ended up 100 not out with a 6 off the final ball of the innings to get his ton, saw the total fly to 277 for 6. In all this big hitting, Lightnings Faiz Bhat bowled an absurd spell of 4 overs, 3 wickets for just 19 runs, in such a match, this needed to be recognised. Lightning started steady but it was the entry of Tariq Iqbal that exploded Lightning into life, ending up with 108 in just 34 balls, the ground was mostly watching mouth open enormous 6’s, of length the ground hasn’t witnessed before. Unfortunately the finish line was just out of reach and the hosts finished on 266, just 11 short. This meant Levante Lightning finished top of the round robin league and Hoboes CC just finished second on net run rate ahead of a very unlucky Bidborough CC.
Finals day started with some drizzle. The 3rd place match was reduced as a result to 15 overs and a good fun match was attended by the whole Bidborough squad who was a great bunch of guys. They didn’t allow Levante Thunder a chance to take their first win of the tournament and officially took 3rd place with a 7 wicket win.
After the antics in the match the day before, the final was always going to be a little more tactical and both sides will have learnt a thing or two about their opposition. Hoboes CC won the toss and put Lightning into bat. After the very large number of wides the day before, Hoboes were on target and toppled the opening pair within the first couple of overs. Tariq Iqbal and Asad Raza (55 off 23) however kicked on and were looking in destructive form before a mix up saw Tariq run out. Wickets began to fall and a score of around 170 looked likely before Faiz Bhat stepped up for a cameo of 35 and pushed the score through to 202. Hoboes went in and after losing Fernandes early Lightning’s tails were up however this was all they really had to celebrate as Darren Eckford put on another great unbeaten innings of 76 not out and managed the chase perfectly, reaching the target and 203 in 18.2 overs.
HOBOES CC – VALENCIA SMASH! 2019 CHAMPIONS
Following the final 70 players and supporters enjoyed free-flowing drinks, tapas, paella, awards and presentations and plenty of laughs before the visiting teams embarked on their final night in Valencia. A massive thank you to the umpires Rico, Dave and George and also tournament referee John Howden from Cricket España who is a vital part of the tournament and cricket support in Valencia and across the country.
Finally to those at Levante CC who helped make this years Valencia Smash! such a memorable one, from help setting up each day, the Smash! music and more. And of course without the brilliant visitors from both Bidborough CC and Hoboes CC, it wouldn’t have been the same without you.
Best Batsman – Darren Eckford (292 in four matches with 3 n/o)
Best Bowler – Charlie Fernandes (7 for 108)
Champagne Moment – Julian Russell (One handed catch and highest wicket taker of the Smash!)
Smash! Awards – Tariq Iqbal (108 in 34 balls and the biggest 6 seen at the VCG) and George Barrett (Hat trick)
To be part of the 2020 Valencia Smash! T20, contact us now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org