Clash of the Titans! Game of the Century! Call it what you will, the Commonwealth Cricket League’s (CCL) 34th Premier Division final promises to be the best ever played in the history of the league.
Though it might sound like an impassioned statement made in the heat of the moment, and considering CCL teams in past finals like American Cricket Society (ACS), Countrywide, Albion, Warriors, Melbourne and Seven Star have all featured players like Deryck Murray, Sew Shivnarine, Derek Kallicharran, Amir Qureshi, Amjad Khan, Zamin Amin, Keshwar Persaud, Nizam Hafiz, David Mohamed, Kumar Lorick, Sam Smith, Waqar Malik, Sheldon Gomes, Stanley Hunter, Kamal Singh, the Etwaroo Brothers [Romain, Reggie and Tyrone], Michael Chinsammy, Lalman Persaud, Charles Lloyd, Freddie Hartman, Vibert Darjun, Tony Lewis, Sarrmad Khan, Vijay Seonarine, Hafiz Ramzan, Kennedy Venkersammy, and a host of other stalwarts, this year’s final is expected to be a humdinger.
Two of the aforementioned players have played Test cricket while all the others have all played first-class cricket. Zamin Amin captained the CCL as well as the USA national team at the same time for many years. Kennedy, Nizam, Sam Smith, Derek, and Lorick all toured with the USA squad at one time or another.
So why is it that this year’s CCL Final just might surpass the excitement of all the previous thirty-three played?
Several reasons come to mind but the main one being that both Strikers and National are very, very balanced teams with excellent cricketers all the way from 1 thru 11. Perfectly balanced in that, possibly, all 22 players can hold their own with the bat and there are about 6 to 7 quality all-rounders in both camps. It was only five weeks ago that Strikers was playing Melbourne in a semi-final at Whitestone, where 18 runs was needed off the last over with 9 wickets down. In came Strikers’ captain Irfan Malik to the crease. Two dots balls were followed by 4, 4, 6 and 6. Absolutely great stuff from the Strikers’ boss.
However, these two teams are rated higher than all previous teams because of one very important reason, age. The average age of players on both teams is about 26 years. No old legs here. No has-beens. No washed-up old-timers playing First-Division cricket. All very young, hungry talent.
For Strikers, Irfan and young Dass were the leading wicket-takers. Ryan Rajmangal, a Guyana youth player, has scored four back-to-back 50’s. Shahid Shazad has scored a century in the regular season. Zamal Khan, Chandarpaul Hemraj scored a brilliant 86 in the semi-final and is a consistent bowler, wicket-keeper and star batsman par excellence Amir Khan, is an amazing all-round performer and a delightful cricketer.
National’s squad for the final is: Shahbazz [Captain], Masum, Zakir Hussain, Sreejon, Fayzal, Shourov, Farhan, Shazad, Tifur, Saif, Sreejon and Zakir. They have all enjoyed a glorious summer so far and they will both want to end it in style. These batsmen are as good as any in the NY Region, full of grace and charm. It promises to be a good game of cricket played by two teams who have worked very hard to get there and have beaten some excellent opponents in the playoffs.
The stage has been set, and on display will be 22 very fine cricketers. One team will surely emerge as the winner, but for now, it’s anybody’s guess.
This Sunday, September 13th at Baisley Pond Park starting at 11.30 am. All are invited.