Day 1: Round-up

Sun, Aug 26, 2007 5:09 PM

The European U-15 2nd Division Championships began today at the La Manga Club, near Murcia, Spain with ten countries vying for the coveted title of European champion. Sunday was the first of five days that will be spent on the group stages of the competition, with only the Isle of Man and Belgium not in action.

In the morning, in Group A, a strong Jersey outfit sent a warning to its rivals when it overcame Germany by nine wickets to register the first points of the tournament. Having been invited to field, the Channel Islanders excelled in restricting the Germans to 71, in spite of a battling 17 from vice captain Ibrahim Awan.

Undoubtedly the pick of the bowlers was Steven Blackburn; his four-wicket haul was an outstanding performance, but the left-arm spin of Joseph Mayes was impressively economical and Andrew Rabet's in-swing claimed three victims for only five runs.

In reply, Aidan McGuire's unbeaten 33 from only 27 balls saw Jersey past their target in fewer than a dozen overs, but on their way they lost Bradley Rimeur to a smart stumping from Hannes Bagge off the leg-spin of Mohsan Hayat.

It was a closer affair on the top pitch in Group A at the La Manga Club, as France fell only 27 runs short of Italy's total of 164. The Italians had at one stage been reduced to 75 for 7 by some excellent French fielding, resulting in three run outs, and three wickets from Stephen Woodall.

An eighth wicket stand of 82, however, between Fahran Akbar and Michele Morettini rescued their team and ensured that Italy would post a more than competitive score.

Having reached 104-5, France had a reasonable chance of victory but when the hard-hitting Haroon Rashid was caught for 20, four wickets fell for 14 runs to all but end French ambitions of an opening win.

Three of those late wickets fell to Danushan Welarathna, who finished with the enviable figures of 4 for 10 in addition to his useful contribution at the top of the order earlier in the morning.

In the tournament's Iberian derby in Group B, hosts Spain defeated Gibraltar by 26 runs to cause something of an upset in a low-scoring encounter.

Joel Brook (32) and Matthew Smith (25) took Spain to 93-3 before a devastating spell of 4 for 13 from Scott Chipolina blew away the Spanish lower order as seven wickets tumbled for twenty-seven runs, with Spain all out for 120.

This proved to be enough, nonetheless, as none of the Gibraltar batsmen got going and Spain's total was never really challenged. Wickets fell at regular intervals and most of the Spanish bowlers were rewarded for their efforts, Ben Taylor returning the best figures of 2 for 9.

(It should perhaps be mentioned that 69 of Gibraltar's 94 runs came from wides – a truly remarkable statistic!)

In the final match of the day, also in Group B, Guernsey powered to victory over Cyprus by the margin of 193 runs. One of the pre-tournament favourites, Guernsey rattled up 279 for 3 in their 35 overs, with captain Thomas Kirk becoming the championship's first centurion.

His unbeaten 112 sparkled with 14 fours and three sixes and came off just 64 balls. He was ably supported by CJ Peatfield, whose 62 contained two maximums of his own. Of Cyprus' bowlers, Alex McCarrick can be praised for conceding no more than four an over throughout his spell.

Cyprus then struggled to keep up with the required rate but Harry Callaway's fine knock of 37 was at least something to remember as the Cypriots valiantly battled through their allotted overs to end on 86 for 9. The Guernsey bowlers will have much to be pleased with, given their performance today, especially Max Ellis (3-19) and Andrew Hutchinson, who recorded the remarkable figures of 3 for 2 from his seven overs.

In tomorrow's matches, the Isle of Man debut against France in Group A and today's winners Italy face Germany. In Group B, hosts Spain will look to stop Belgium taking the points from their first match of the tournament while both Gibraltar and Cyprus will be keen to make amends for today's defeats when they meet each other in the afternoon.

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