Mixed start to Brigade’s Euro Championship finals

Brigade have left themselves with a bit of work to do after the European League finals eventually got under way in Malaga on Thursday.

Almost a week of torrential rain meant that no play was possible on the first three scheduled days leaving organisers with a choice to make about how to progress the competition. They subsequently opted to keep the same format of teams playing each other twice, but cutting games to five overs a side with each team playing four times on Thursday and Friday.

And just as they had in last month’s qualifying week, the North West side got off to an awful start when they lost their opening game by 43 runs to Brescia CC.

The Italians posted 68-2 batting first with openers Yasir Dullu (35- 4 sixes) and Ali Raza Islam (23) doing the damage. Ryan Macbeth (2-14) got them both out in the last over before Brigade’s reply came apart at the seams.

Having reached 22-1 in the 3rd over, the Beechgrove side folded to finish on 25-8 with Islam (3-0) and Imran Naveed (2-0) picking up 5 wickets for 0 runs between them in the last two overs.

Just as they did in the qualifiers, Brigade then re-grouped and posted back-to-back wins in their next two games.

First up were Swedish club champions Alby Zamli who were restricted to 50-3 and the Waterside men were able to chase those down with a couple of deliveries to spare to win by 4 wickets.

David Murdock (12), David Barr (10) and Ryan Macbeth (10) all chipped in to get their side back on track before Brigade had a quick opportunity to get their own back on Brescia in their third outing of the day.

This time Andy Britton’s team bowled really well- Macbeth (2-2), Iftikhar Hussain (2-3) and the skipper (2-9) combining to restrict the Italians to 39-8 from their 5 overs.

Barr (15*), Graeme McCarter (14) and Britton (11*) sealed a comfortable 9 wicket win to put their side right back in the mix.

Last up on Day 1 was Tunbridge Wells- the team rated by many as favourites to win the tournament outright. And the English champions put on a show as they ended the day at the top of the table with a fairly emphatic 25-run success.

The Williams brothers, Chris and Alex, set the tone for this one as the opening pair posted a 73-run stand that pretty much took the contest away from Brigade. Skipper Chris was in belligerent form- smashing 8 sixes and 2 fours in his 17-ball 61 while his sibling was able to stand and admire at the other end.

Once again, Macbeth bowled the last over and picked up the two wickets to fall, but by then, the batting side had racked up 83 runs.

The Irish champions had no answer despite an excellent 13-ball 35 not out from Ifti (3 fours, 3 sixes) and they closed on 58-6 in reply.

The sides will do it all again on Friday so there is much to play for but Britton’s men will be hoping they can do enough to claim one of those top two places ahead of Saturday’s finals.

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