Bay Dragons crowned Division Champions

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Bay Dragons CC 1st XI vs Llanarth CC 2nd XI

After a never ending bout of defaults, the dragons were in business, when Llanarth confirmed the fixture. I almost fell out of my bed when I got the text from Keith (Llanarth) confirming the fixture.. I mean how could that happen ?? The cricket angels must have been listening to the dragons who have spent more time oiling their bats this season than playing cricket 😂😂

In any case, the crippled bunch of cricket mad dragons were ready to play and there was no shortage of players on day. Injuries have been a concern as we reach the business end of the season, but I’m glad we have managed to pull through. There are team fitness plans in discussion at the moment for next season. The skipper and vice captain will be setting an example by running around Blackweir to burn some rubber.

The defaults have also impacted the consistency and it’s become more obvious in batting and fielding. However, through hard work and a bit of luck, we have remained on top of the table for most of this season and we look set to win the division championship. What a remarkable achievement for a club that hasn’t even turned 1 yet !

So, what happened at Llanarth ?

💩 as far as our batting was concerned, we got out for our lowest total of the year (130) and didn’t even bat through the overs. Yes batting on a windy and spin friendly wicket was difficult, but some of the wickets we lost were reminiscent of the famous Pakistan Vs Ireland encounter in 2007 world cup. D.Moseley (Llanarth) bowled some nice leg breaks for his well deserved 5 wicket haul. Tremendous effort by the little boy, which got him a reward from Skippy.

After the innings break, a team huddle was called and Syed said some motivational words in order to lift up the team.

Llanarth looked ok when they came out to bat, but Rabbi was breathing fire, well supported by Avinash from the other end. Wickets tumbled non stop and by the end of first spell, enough damage was done by dragons to secure the game.

Mehender and Piyar cleared up the remaining wickets. There were only one or two chances dropped but they weren’t easy catches.. one running backwards that turned in the air, the other, moving away and straight down the chest of the fielder. Nothing else was spared and then there was that ballistic throw from zubbers that shattered the stumps.. beautiful !

The bowling fantastic and fielding was better, all signs of improvement. The dragons won comfortably by bowling Llanarth out for 84. It’s a remarkable achievement that on 4 occasions this season, we have managed to bowl the opposing team for less than 100 runs.

With this game won, the dragons secured their grip on the title and only need 7 points from the last match to be officially declared winners of the division.

Llanarth was by far one of the best teams we have had the pleasure of playing against this season. The spirit of cricket, effort, friendly atmosphere and support as well as facilities were amazing. I’ll sign out by wishing them all the best for next season and I have no doubt they will be contenders for promotion in 2018.

Success without victory

Sounds insane right.. but history would tell you it’s happened many a times.  Victories are a crown jewel, but no big victory comes without a defeat.  A loss teaches us things that a victory conceals. When you win, all dropped catches, poor shots, misfields…you name it, does not matter.  It does matter and hurt when you lose and that too at a crucial time.

The takeaway is, mistakes yesterday were noted by all players and everyone will now have a purpose to come back hard and prove how good they are. 

A bit about the game

For once, we were spoilt for choice on selection. But, a few drop outs and inevitable changes in last minute impacted the game plan.  Unfortunately, it was unavoidable and we played with the best options we had available.  Well done to everyone who stepped up.  It goes without saying, we badly missed Shakir, Piyar Singh and Patrick yesterday. Their energy, athleticism and positivity will be much needed in the game against title contenders, Monkswood.

Game play

In terms of batting,  we had a good foundation set up by our openers. At 10 overs, we were 27 and with Ash and Zubi out, we had a tough task ahead of us.  Mubashar (bash) and Sandy steadied the ship with both playing decent strokes.  Sandy recovered from early wobble and his excellent 79 was the highest score by a Dragon this season – well done!

We slowed down in middle overs and whilst we had foundation,  the last ten overs required some firey hitting. 
 Avinash, Rabbi, Syed, Taj all chipped in and we managed a decent 211-7, against a quality opposition. Sudbrook displayed great quality in batting, bowling and fielding.   We remained not out, which was excellent.   However,  this score could easily have been 250, had we converted singles to doubles, kept rotating the strike.  I’m sure the players will think how much a difference these 30-40 runs could have made in the death overs.

Happy faces

Baby Dragon and our only supporter at the game – busy on his Nintendo 😂

A story of bowling, mis fields, dropped catches and come backs

Avinash and Rabbi opened the attack. It was a good test of bowling against the quality batting.  The first ten overs were huge and in most of our wins, we rely on opening attack.  The last two games have shown us that we must be ready in the second, third and fourth attack in order to take the game back.

The spell between Bash and Syed brought sudbrook down on knees.  They were struggling at 140 for 6.  The difference now was Richard Lund from Sudbrook, who was dropped twice off Syed and once off Bash. Catches win matches and this game could have been won, had we taken him. We don’t drop many, so I won’t hesitate to say, It just wasn’t our day.

The passion and energy in a tough game is obvious and admirable. Rotation of bowlers, change of attack and field placements are tactical decisions, which everyone must understand.  

We are now second on the table, but the energy, enthusiasm and passion of this side gives me the belief that we will be back on the top soon and we must beat Monkswood on 05/08/17, if we have any aspirations for winning the title.

Well done to Bash and Syed for getting into top ten division bowlers list, which is all occupied by Monkswood,Sudbrook and Dragons. Their strike rates of 12 and 16 maintained thoughout this season are brilliant, but it will be a great test of stamina to continue this form in the remaining games.  

Avinash and Rabbi are destined to strike back and it will happen anytime soon. Burhan is a new talent and we will get to see skills soon as well.  There is no doubt they are all match winners on their day. Go on Dragons, the title is yours to chase. 

Next match is an away fixture against Cardiff 4ths. Good luck 🐲🐲🐲

Bay Dragons CC vs Whitchurch Heath CC 4ths

Following last weeks cancellation,  the Dragons were all keen for a game. Winning or losing doesn’t matter, as long as cricket goes on..  

Yes, I’m lying and actually, if you are a Dragon, winning matters and not just winning, but claiming every single available point. After all, we want to win the division.   Before I say anything, I must add that if there is any side this team would say we had the most pleasure of playing against,  I would safely lay my bets on Whitchurch Heath. 10/10 for their sportsmanship,  10/10 for spirit of the game and 10/10 for carrying themselves as perfect role models for the youngsters in their ranks 👏. We have played two games against them and we love them already.

Now, before I put you all to sleep with my epic monologue,  allow me to entertain you with the match report.

The match started even before the actual match in whatsapp.  Bash was day dreaming about what he does best “bashing with bat and ball” and stalking Lala aka boom boom aka Shahid Afridi at Glamorgan match and a gazillion selfies shared – nice one Bash, keep doing it.   Whereas, Z.Iqbal aka Zubi alias Zubbers spent his week convincing Bash that he must play today and claim his No.3 spot in batting.  It was a treat to watch him today, so for this, the Worthy Effort award goes to Zubbers, and Bash should hand over his well earned MoM award to him as well 🏆 😁, given that it was Zubbers who convinced him to play.   Good selection Sir ! And while we are on that, he himself batted superbly as well, so well done for that too.

Alright, now the match bits. So as usual, Syed lost the toss and as usual, we batted first.  Zubi and Sandy opened the innings in typical Dragons way.  Starting watchful and making the bad balls pay, they marched on to 50 partnership in 12 overs.  Sandy was LBW for a hard fought 17, which included some stylish fours as well.  Zubi on the other end kept rotating the strike well and getting boundaries at will.   Bash made a brilliant partnership with him and both batted superbly.  They made a 65 run partnership before Zubi tried to send one to Mars, but the ball dipped in last second and was taken brilliantly by Tom Williams. He made  62 runs. 

Avinash came next and made a quick fire 22 before he holed out in covers. At this point, the scoreboard read 181 from 32 overs.  With five batting points bagged, the message from Syed was clear to all next batsmen,  start the slog !

(Avinash says start the slog,  Syed agrees and moment captured)

WHCC were very much aware of the plans and they bowled brilliant in death overs. Despite a flurry of wickets, the Dragons managed to make a decent 226-9.  On another day, this should have easily been a 250+ total.  Note to self and the team, keep rotating strike, take singles, doubles regularly and perhaps,  no need to slog till the last 4-5 overs.  

With a decent target set, the bowlers were all steamed up.  I’m liking the spirit that everyone wants wickets and is hungry for them.

(Mike in his usual sweet mood, keeping the scoreboard updated)

(Skippy looking stylish today – just with the looks though as his batting was as good as Curtly Ambrose playing with a twig 😂)

We noticed that on one or two occasions, passions were high for the slightest of misfield or field placement.  We must be careful as some time, too much passion can spoil the game for everyone.  No player can win on their own and any outburst can impact player morale. It is the team that wins or loses at the end. This isn’t any finger pointing or fault finding verbal, but it’s one of those learning outcomes from the game. Its best that field placements should be left with skipper, coach or bowler, and ideas should be shared with them. Snapping at misfields should be avoided.  This would make us look more organized, professional and disciplined.  Alright, sermon over, if you are still awake, read on..😂

Rabbi and Avinash started with great pace and accuracy.  There were some missed chances, but once the wickets started to tumble, there was no tomorrow.  Looking at pitch conditions Syed brought on Zubi and Bash after 10 overs.  

(Our pitch inspector and little groundsman, Sandy and Kieran)

The bowling change paid off straight away with Zubi claiming Tom Williams. Bash took a wicket every over and before we knew it,  we were fighting for the last two wickets.  Patrick struck timber in his first over followed by Bash claiming the last wicket.  Rabbi and Shakir took some fantastic catches on the way and Patrick’s fielding was athletic as always. In between, Taj and shakir bowled economically, as did Syed, but remained wicketless today. Good luck to all for next match as I’m sure they’ll hit the timber soon.
Mikes tips were certainly working for Bash, I’ll have to have him next to me when I’m bowling in the next game (syed).  Now the basking in glory moment or in this case, bashing in glory moment…his name has come a few times already so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bash was the man of the match today for his stylish half century and much more stylish 5 for. His first for the season and we wish him many more.  Club Coach and Welfare Officer, Mike Dowers,  did the honours of giving the medal and praised his all round efforts.

The Dragons are half way through the season and sitting comfortably on top of the division table.  There is no rest as the next game is against mighty Sudbrook. All the best for the next game to all Dragons, keep on shining and remember, Cricket wins. 

Happy people make a happy team!

Bay Dragons CC vs Bridgend CC 4ths

There are some games for which only a short sentence would suffice “what a hell of a game”, and I am going to say this exactly- what a hell of a game!

The sun had kissed Blackweir for the full week before this match, reaching maximums of 30 degrees and even the minimum overnight temperature of 21 degrees.  The pitch was death bed for bowling.  However, in came the rain on evening before and the pitch got its life back.  Additionally, new pitch was cut out on the square, which made it a good bowling wicket.  Bowling first was an obvious choice for either sides.

(overcast conditions at start of game)

Bridgend won the toss and used the attacking overs perfectly.   For the first time this season,  Dragons were exposed to tricky conditions and they were rattled by great bowling spell from the worthy opponents.  Zubi and Sandy played with gutso for their little cameos, but following their wickets, Syed, Bash and Sam got a golden goose each.  Within 15 overs,  Dragons were struggling at 39/6.

Whatever happened after that was, as aptly drescribed by Mike Dowers, a Ramadan Miracle. 

By this time,  the first attacking overs were finished and new bowlers were in. Patrick and Taj made a heroic stand and just didn’t let the new bowlers settle.  Runs came fast, extras,  cheeky singles, doubles and boundaries a galore.  Patrick made 64 hitting 13 fours, well supported by Taj, who made 19 and was unluckily given LBW on a ball that was not even going to hit the 6th stump.  

In came Vishant for his first league appearance of the season and milked every bad ball that came his way, making a quick fire 36.  He was followed by our usual night watch man, Rabbi, who also made 22.  Mike and Patrick finished not out and Dragons posted 222-9 in the miraculous recovery by the tail. 

This brilliant effort uplifted the morale of everyone, particularly the bowlers.  At lunch, Sun was out and the Dragons were ready to shine as well.   

Bowling was opened by Rabbi and Syed. Both bowled with decent pace and economy.  Between them,  they bowled 10 overs, gave 23 runs and took 3 wickets.  With runs coming at this rate, the pressure was building and none of batsmen settled.  Abdul took 3 wickets in his four overs. Finally, an athletic run out by Rabi ended their run chase at 124.

The Dragons won by 98 runs.   Looking back at our scoreline of 39/6,  one can only smile at the beauty and unpredictability of cricket.  Not only the Dragons won,  we took maximum points as well.  

Patrick and Taj jointly win Man of the Match for that heroic partnership – well done lads!    

Bay Dragons CC vs Cardiff CC 4ths

Eleven cricketers wanted to play..

Over at blackweir, not far away

Brother Skippy  said, “how many in the pack?”

And only 9 cricketers came back!

There is nothing worse than losing a game of cricket to our not so friendly foe, the rain.  Determined to beat this arch rival, both teams agreed to play with a delayed start.  A few days of scorching Sun made the ground immensely dry, due to which the heavy showers didn’t cause as much damage to the pitch as was expected.  The game began with a slightly delayed start to allow surface dampness to dry.  Armed with a cricketers weapon of mass dryness,  Skippy and lads began the saw dusting ritual, with plenty of Sun dance voodoos on display as well.

On a serious note, this game was special. A few days ago, one of our own, Sam Patel, lost his two friends in the Manchester tragedy.  The Dragons arranged a one minute silence in their remembrance and also for the victims of terror around the world.  It was commendable of Cardiff CC boys to join us as well as their families and friends visiting on the day – Thank you from the club and Sam Patel !

Following this, the game began with Dragons claiming the toss and electing to bat first – there isn’t much of a choice than to bat first, when a third of the team becomes unavailable in the last minute.  The later is never to be repeated again as it had put immense pressure on the team as for the first time, we could not claim the full batting points.  

A notable thank you goes to Sandy Kamble, who came in to the batting side for the first half of the game, giving some respite.  

Unfortunately,  due to rain and some very tight bowling spells by Cardiff CC boys, runs weren’t coming easy and it remained a low scoring affair for all.  On both sides no one exceeded Avinash’s 24. 

Zubi and Sandy opened the batting with some good cautious stroke play.  After a 32 run partnership, Zubi snicked a scorching delivery and was followed soon after by Sandy.  Syed showed some resistance before he was caught in gully off an unpredictable bouncer that he tried to get away from, but somehow it connected with the bat in that millionth of a second.

Rabbi and Mehender batted well along with Piyar and Avinash.  Around 20 runs each were made by all, so these little cameos raised the total to 161-9 off 36.5 overs.  Mike suffered a hamstring strain at the worst time as he was playing a sweet knock in a bid to stop the opponents getting full bowling points., He played heroically to support Avinash on the other end and his hopping running between the wicket was applauded by all on the benches. Eventually, a runner was taken up, and as Murphy’s law would have it,  Avinash got out soon after. 

 The aimed 180 was so close, yet so far..  Had there been a full playing XI,  perhaps we could have achieved this target.  The Dragons will have to raise their game and in the remaining season, we must not allow ourselves to be in this situation again.   Titanic commitment will be required from all to ensure that if someone becomes unavailable,  there is another Dragon available to pick up the spot, for this is what good teams do – support each other in times of need. 

With the target set and a good session of cricket tea, the Dragons forgot what was on the board and came out to do what they are best at doing – take wickets. 

Rabbi and Avinash lead the pace attack and gave very little work to the scorers. The pair bowled 11 overs and gave 41 runs between them. Unfortunately, despite some amazing LBW calls and near misses,  both remained wicketless for the first time this season.  It became apparent that the pitch was not about pace and Swing and Turn was required the most.  Syed and Piyar came into the second attack and dented Cardiff CCs hopes by getting 4 wickets each.   The pair of them bowled  16.2 overs and claimed 8 wicket by giving just 35 runs. Zubi claimed their top scorer for 20 and Avinash a classic run out.  Rabbi and Zubi also kept the wicket between them and did an amazing job.  The ball was swinging both ways meaning their work was cut out behind the stumps.

Cardiff CC were all out for 104 and the Dragons won by 57 runs. I have to admit that this was a game we expected to be a walk in the park, but credit must go to their young players for a fantastic display of resistance against one of this divisions best bowling attacks.

Unfortunately, the one batting point lost has affected our average ever so slightly and by a fraction,  Monkswood are now on table top.  We must reclaim this spot and the only way to do this is by wining the rest of our games and claiming maximum batting points.

Next game is a mid week friendly at home vs Cardiff Hurricanes, followed by the league fixture vs Pontypridd on 3rd June and then our biggest game of the season so far,  against  Monkswood on 10th.  Good luck Dragons

Until the next game, au revoir !

First HOME game of Dragons..

Before I mention anything,  Let me just say,  what a fantastic performance today Dragons !   I was expecting us to win, but you did me extra proud with the bowling effort.  A well deserved victory and extra brownie points for Zubbers who played the captain’s knock and led the side to an incredible victory.

The day began with a kerfuffle at Blackweir, with four away teams, 3 home teams all cluelessly chasing “men with keys” to the changing rooms.  The men with keys are rare and the keys are even more rarer – what happens if you find the man with the key but he does not have the keys ?

Thankfully, after 15-20 minutes of agro, we finally had the keys to rooms and the spirit of cricket kicked in.  Zubair Iqbal, whom I affectionately will refer to as Zub, Zubi or Zubbers was the standing Captain as Skippy took a day off due to help with admin and teas. A round of applause for Zubbers as you read this – I’ll tell you why shortly 👏👏.

After a dry April, for the past two days the heavens opened. At one stage it wasn’t even certain if the game would take place, but just as well as everything unexpected is happening in the UK, cricket happened..

(These kids are happy – cricket is ON)

Whitchurch Heath won the toss and put the Dragons into bat. Good decision, but they didn’t know Zubbers was opening the innings with Mr Ice cool, Sandy.  On any other day, this should have been a bowlers pitch but these two struck a 75 run stand for opening partnership.  Sandy got out after a watchful and dogged 22.

Alok playing his first game was at a disadvantage against the quality bowling and soon departed, earning his golden duck 🐣

Mubashir (bash) picked up the innings from the other end and added a quick fire 21, followed by MoM of the last match Avinash, making a stylish 23. Zubi got out for 63 eventually after playing a gem of an innings.  And then there was the last wicket stand between Taj and Patrick.  Taj made 27 off 12 balls and Patrick made 9 off 6,7 balls that came his way. The way these two batted, they took the team score to over that “Two double O” mark and uplifted the morale.

(the game in progress)

(Patrick and Skippy on scoring duty earlier)

With the target set for 226,  Rabbi and Avinash ripped through the batting line up.  The pressure they built was quadrupled by Piyar Singh as he bowled a fine spell of 4 overs giving only 3 runs for his three wickets – take a bow 🎆🏆💪

Earlier Avinash and Rabbi had taken two wickets each and Whitchurch were struggling at 48-7.  Their skipper Tom came to bat and hit three consecutive boundries before getting caught off Patrick.  It was a nice innings, very stylish, but as it goes in the world of cricket,  when its not your day, its not your day.  Taj wrapped up by taking lastwicket and the visitors were all out for 65.

I hate performances like these- no kidding … It makes up choosing the MoM so difficult.  In the end, there is always one and for today, it has to be Zubbers for coming in to captain, playing the skippers knock and marshalling his super troopers to victory.  Well done ! 🎉🎉🎉

Tom, the Captain of Whitchurch Heath, did the honours of presenting the MoM awards for this match to Zubi and for the previous match to Avinash.

Another “first “out of the way for the team.. but still a fair few to be had (first century, hatrick etc). I’m sure the way we are playing, these will come soon.  Any captain would be proud to have a squad like this and I am so pleased that other teams have commented on how well we play as a unit as well as the quality of our game.

Teams are made of individuals who have same goals and they unite with each other to achieve them.  So far, we have been a great, now lets have more of this.  Good luck to the Dragons against Sudbrook next week!

(The scoreboard was blown over by wind – hence the incorrect score) Correct scores – Bay Dragons 225-9 of 40 overs. WHCC 65 all out