As the time slowly ticks down to midnight and we prepare to ring in the New Year, lets have a look back on a year to well and truly remember for Gibraltar Cricket…
As the clocks chimed in exactly a year ago uncertainty and trepidation loomed not only over Gibraltar but most of the world. Whilst some of our members were on the frontline, others were confined to life from home once again.
Cricket seemed an all too distant memory. The thought of a successful year a severe optimists pipe-dream. But in troubled times brings a certain togetherness and camaraderie. Cricket didn’t stop; weekly fitness sessions appeared via zoom, whilst training drills appeared online to be undertaken from home.
However, as Spring sprung Gibraltar burst back into life and with it a New Dawn beckoned for cricket on the Rock.
Men’s and Women’s training restarted in good spirits, and so did the Juniors whose numbers rose to 125 players throughout 2021. An outstanding effort from all those involved who worked tirelessly to make it happen, and with that came the eagerly anticipated Easter-Slam, a pre-cursor to another highly successful Summer-Slam which followed later in the year.
The 1st edition of the Indoor League finished in style with Harding’s Hurricanes blowing away the rest of the competition, finishing with 9 wins from their 10 games. Whilst in the youth competitions both age categories were won by Pirates CC who may just have unearthed some future gems.
Summer as always arrived with heat, and with it came a renewed sense of optimism…
The news delivered of Gibraltar’s first set of International games since competing in the Iberia Cup during 2019. A trip to Portugal ensued, seeing a tri-series against the hosts and Malta. Although, ultimately ending in defeat the four games saw some highly competitive cricket and the emergence of a new homegrown hero.
Louis Bruce at the tender age of 16 debuted by taking a starring role alongside our player of the series Chris Delaney. Both of whom nearly guided Gibraltar to the unlikeliest of victories in an enthralling run chase against Malta.
It wasn’t to be. However, a star had been born, and it wasn’t the last we would be hearing of young Bruce this year.
From the outside looking in it could have been presumed nothing much had changed, but those on the inside knew not to take results at face value… Something special was brewing.
Development and progress under the watchful eye of Head Coach and Head of Youth Development Paul Edgeller was only growing, adding to the feeling that Gibraltar Cricket was on the verge of a big breakthrough.
As the leaves fell and a cool easterly breeze hit the Rock Autumn brought with it another tour, this time to Malta and an entry to the Valletta Cup. History was made and Gibraltar celebrated. The first T20 International victory for the Nation… History-Makers.
Having comfortably beaten Bulgaria the day before though, disappointment reigned as a final ball defeat to the same team ensured a heart-breaking 4th placed finish.
With veteran star and newly appointed captain Avinash Pai now leading the charge, his passion and commitment was instrumental in what was to follow.
Having been named Player of the Tournament alongside wonderkid Louis Bruce who had followed up his bright start in Portugal with the leading run scorer award. Pai knew that personal accolades and a record breaking partnership meant nothing if the tour was to finish on that note. Rallying the troops for one final game in a standalone fixture against Malta, who had only just been crowned Valletta Cup Champions themselves less than 24 hours before, saw a sensational turn of events.
On course for potentially a 2nd victory in the space of three days against a team ranked twenty places higher, Mother Nature cruelly had other ideas and heavy rain put an end to any hopes of another famous victory. Calculators were drawn, and minds were strained. The match had ended in a tie. A bizarre end to a fiercely competitive game, as Duckworth Lewis had its final say.
Although hard fought battles were had on the pitch, friendships and bonds appeared off it. A reminder that cricket is bigger than just a game.
As the year drew to a close the 2nd edition of the indoor league began with more players and teams than ever.
New rules were incorporated to ensure that at least one player on each team was to be filled by one of our ever growing number of Female Cricketers, and in the first few weeks of the season the girls shone. Women’s Cricket stood up and breathed a breath of fresh air into the indoor games.
Which brings us to the new year, and what it holds.
After all its achievements the Men’s National Team moved up 6 places in the ICC rankings, and with it came the announcement of the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup European Sub-Regional Qualifiers.
Everyone held their breath…
Gibraltar had landed in Qualifier C Group 1 along with Denmark, Belgium, and Hungary all of which lie in wait for a date with destiny next June. A tough task indeed, but a prospect to be relished.
Meanwhile the Indoor league will continue, as of yet too early to call, but one in which Calpe Giants are certainly the front runner. While the hope is Junior and Women’s Cricket continue to thrive, with new projects and plans already in the pipeline behind the scenes. But if that wasn’t enough 2021 was about to finish with a bang, and drop its final bombshell…
THE RETURN OF OUTDOOR CRICKET!
The Gibraltar Premier League plans to commence in March bringing to life a new style and era of Cricket on the Rock, which will see the top players go head-to-head on a weekly basis. An innovative draft which will take place at the end of January in the newly opened Pavilion Bar at Europa Point Stadium, will see registered players enter a “Hundred style” draft which aims to create a new and exciting set of teams.
And with that comes to an end our “brief” round-up of Gibraltar Crickets 2021.
One to go down in history and remembered fondly, but one which must now lead on to an even better 2022. The platform has been built, and exciting times lead ahead for everyone involved or interested with our beloved sport here in Gibraltar…
From everyone here we’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds!