Belgium Cricket is back in all its wonder!
Love it or hate it, the wonders of Belgian Cricket are back and the Optimists CC 2nd team enjoyed a roller coaster of a day in Mechelen. After nine months since the last BCF game, it is easy to forget the special nature of these trips. Early morning meets at Glacis; Food stops at Wanlin; losing the convoy of cars; eventually finding the ground; seeing the pitch and immediately missing the beauty of PWCG and then there is the cricket. Two back-to-back T20s in mid-summer heat with a mixture of huge sixes, lost balls, hot curry, penalty runs, disputed boundary catches and a nerve-wracking finish. That’s why we love it.
The new captain, Mohit, took the team up there after a scramble of 2 days notice to be ready. He won the toss and then we watched the fireworks start. Raining sixes over all the weird shaped boundaries and soon deep in trouble. Yes, there was a fightback but faced with a target of 227 things could not get worse, could they? 20 minutes later, it was much worse. The top order was back in the hutch with nothing on the scoreboard and everyone thinking if golf is a better pastime. But Mohit could do no wrong and showed the way with a quick fire 56 and debutant Advyth in support to at least proved to the opponents we could play. The first match closed out in the final over with 140 on the board and hence a defeat by 86 runs to wake everyone up.
With the new format, we play the same opponents twice in one day which gives the boys a chance to learn, adjust and respond. Winning the toss again (100% toss win record) and seeing the laziness in the opponents the decision to bat first proved correct. Amit Halbavi and Scott Browne then created their own fireworks and we had blast off. Both hit impressive fifties in 30-odd balls and suddenly we are 100 for nought within 9 overs and the locals had gone very quiet. This platform let the others follow and Shiv, Maz, Advyth and penalty runs for fake fielding (new rule) all helped us get to 201 for 4 off our 20. So now we had a real match on our hands, but the opponents also knew this. Round 2 of their fireworks was set off and they got to 50 after less than 3 overs! Faced with this onslaught lesser teams would crumble but not Mohit’s men. Raju broke through with an LBW and but the flow continued. After 9 overs, both teams were exactly 104. Mohit turned to Marcus for some spin and thanks to excellent work by Ady with 2 stumpings, he picked up 3 wickets and things began to turn. Wickets began to fall regularly as the game twisted and turned every over. Then the customary chaos ensued with the disputed boundary catch thanks to no rope and plastic flags. Scott Browne took a seemingly good catch running round at cow but everyone had an opinion on where he was or wasn’t. After the debate calmed down the independent umpire gave a six which could have been crucial. But this fired up the Optimists determination and some more decent work in the field took the match into the final 2 overs. The skipper turned to the Vice and said ‘good luck here’s the ball’ with the oppo needing just 11 to win off 12 balls with 8 wickets down. So, Pankaj started with a wide but a clear LBW and a few balls later dislodging the middle stump to kick off some wild and not-so socially distanced celebrations. A win by 8 runs to keep the 2nds in the tournament and a happier drive home with a quick team beer at Wanlin. Home again after a 16-hour round trip.
So there you have it, Belgian League Cricket at is finest. So now we look forward to 7 more trips like these before the end of July. Are you ready?
Your reporter – Marcus Cope