On Friday 29 March, The RLC Cricket Club departed from Gatwick Airport for Spain to conduct a four day pre-season training camp. Whilst Spain may not be known for its cricketing prowess, the facilities on offer at La Manga Club in Murcia, along with the promise of sun, led to anticipation that three days of good cricket lay ahead. Teams from the AAC and RAF Brize Norton would be in La Manga at the same time, allowing suitable and competitive opposition. With three days of training and fixtures on offer, Day One and Two would see friendlies against the other teams, whilst Day 3 would take the form of a Twenty20 Round Robin Competition ‘ the British Military Cricket Challenge (BMCC), organised by La Manga Sports Tours who had enabled the training camp. The RLC squad was made up of a healthy nucleus from the 2013 team, alongside some new blood and also a number of players returning after absences due to operational commitments.
Day One started with some solid training which both set the teams standards and also allowed a foundation to build on. Saturday also saw two fixtures against the AAC, with contrasting results. In game one The RLC posted 167-4 in their 20 overs, with Pte Kenny Grant top scoring with a very handy 54. The RLC secured a resounding win by restricting the AAC to 115-8 in their innings, with Sgt Izzy James centre stage with 4 wickets for 17 runs. However, the second game of the day against the AAC did not go quite so well, with The RLC getting skittled for just 29 when chasing a modest 105.
After an early night, The RLC squad were at the ground soon after sunrise, with Saturday’s second result firmly in everyone’s mind. A focused team took to the field in another fixture against the AAC and the response from the batsmen was unequivocal. After an early wicket, newcomer Lt Andy Edwards made 90 not out, but could not keep up with Pte Spice Narayan who made an unbeaten 111 as The RLC amassed 221-1 in 20 overs. The AAC team were then bowled out for 81 to secure the win. Of note was the standard of The RLC fielding, which Chairman AAC Cricket called ‘electric’, with 3 run- outs. The second game, against RAF Brize Norton, took a similar course. With The RLC bowling first, the opposition were held to 80 for 5 in 20 overs, with Cpl Pebble Williams picking up 3 for 28. The RLC chased down their target with 9 wickets in hand in under 8 overs.
The final day saw competition for silverware in the BMCC. First up was the AAC who batted first and were held to 116 for 8 in 20 overs. The RLC went on to win with nine wickets in hand and 4 overs to spare, Cpl Rico Shelton making 42 not out and Pte Spice Narayan again leading the way with 69 not out. The final game of the training camp was against RAF Brize Norton who were on the wrong end of a marauding RLC bowling line up and as a result were bowled out for 67. Pte Dougie Douglas starred with remarkable figures of 4 overs, 4 maidens, 2 wickets for no runs. The final run chase was completed with 9 wickets in hand and over 7 overs to spare.
The final night in La Manga was spent at an end of tour dinner and awards, where Cpl VaVa Plummer received the Club Captain’s award for Player of the Weekend, Pte Spice Narayan received the Player of the BMCC (voted for by the three Team Captains) and Capt Dave Matthews picked the BMCC Cup. Overall the training camp had been a huge success; a great opportunity to play early season cricket in fantastic conditions and prepare for the forthcoming season. With a fair wind, the squad will use it as springboard for success in the Inter-Corps competitions this summer.
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