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In 2015, I moved to Ibiza assuming that my cricket would be put on hold. But, within a few weeks of arriving on the island, I found to my astonishment that there was an Ibiza Cricket Club. I was delighted.
I’ve loved cricket for as long as I can remember. I started playing when I was around 10 years old at a local club and have played ever since. For Ibiza, I’m opening batsman, so it’s my job to get the runs. This I do, with mixed fortunes.
According to the Ibiza Cricket Club handbook, matches have been played against touring sides from the UK since the early 1980s. In 1986, a small group of British residents and enthusiastic cricket lovers established an official cricket club.
Today the team is made up of expats like me who live here all year round, around 12 of us, and guys who come over from the UK whenever they can and play as our guests.
We play around 20 matches a year. Our season is April and May and from September to November.
Apart from playing UK village clubs who come over before and after the British cricket season, we have matches against Mallorca and Menorca every year in the Balearic Cup. This involves travelling to a different one of these islands to play every year.
Menorca has a lovely ground that they’ve nurtured over the past 30 t0 40 years. The pitch itself is a carpeted surface on concrete but the outfield is grass so you can fling yourself around on it to your heart’s content. It wouldn’t be out of place in the British countryside.
We also play a team from the Spanish mainland, Sporting Alfas – one of the best sides in Spain – and have played La Manga Cricket Club in Murcia.
Before my time, few years ago, we played the Republic of Suriname national side and beat them. That must have been quite a game.
At the end of our season, we play Sporting Alfas at their ground, which is around 20 minutes from Benidorm.
Sporting Alfas are somewhat different from us in that they have a number of Spanish players in the team, with a British connection of some sort. We’ve tried to persuade our Spanish friends to try cricket but not had much luck.
As our Chairman and veteran bowler Jeremy Parmenter explains, ‘Spaniards are fascinated by cricket, but you try explaining the rules to them in Spanish. It’s hard enough in English.’
Incidentally, Jeremy describes himself as a ‘dibbly-dobbly bowler. I don’t know what I’m going to bowl when I’m running up so the poor batsman has no idea what I’m going to do. He might smack me for a six and the very next ball I’ve got him out. But, my hero Ian Botham, is famous for saying “bad balls take wickets”.’
From the beach to Cricket España
There’s no doubt that the words ‘Ibiza Cricket Club’ at first conjure up a vision of dogged, somewhat eccentric, Englishness.
That may have been true in the early days – Jeremy remembers his father playing games on the beach in the 1970s with other expats. Now we’re as serious about being organised as we are about the game.
‘Running the club is a lot of work,’ Jeremy told me. ‘We don’t just get together and say, “Let’s have a game of cricket.” We have a full-blown committee of six members. We’re members of Cricket España, the official governing body of cricket in Spain, which is a member of the European Cricket Council and the International Cricket Council.’
The social side of the sport
One of the reasons I love cricket is because it’s a great reason to get together with friends for a beer and the social side of cricket in Ibiza is great.
Our wives and girlfriends often support us at matches and visiting teams will sometimes bring their families with them. We usually get around 10 to 15 people watching our games, which are played at the Campo de Futbol, San Augustin, San Jose. That’s not a bad turnout.
In my experience, cricket teams are usually a healthy mix of people from different walks of life, and this is true of Ibiza Cricket Club. We have members like Jeremy and me who work in real estate, as well as bar and restaurant owners and managers, and people who are involved in different areas of tourism.
Sadly, the fallout from Brexit is set to make finding team members rather more challenging than it’s been in the past.
The Brexit effect
Many of our players come over to Ibiza for our tourist season, which runs from May 1st to October 31st. Because only a few of us live here all-year round, we’re dependent on these guys.
Brexit has made it that UK citizens who are non-residents of Spain can only spend 90 days out of every 180 in Europe. This means that our players who would come over here for the summer will no longer be able to do so.
We can only hope that some of them decide to become Ibiza residents. It’s the least they can do for the club, after all.
If you live in Ibiza and would like to know more about either playing cricket or coming along and supporting us, find out more here.
We’ll be playing for the honour of Ibiza cricket in the Balearic Cup against Mallorca and Menorca in Cala Millor, Mallorca on 21st-23rd May. I invite all my Mallorcan friends to come down and have some fun.