By Sam Sooppersaud
Cricket fans were treated to a gem of a T20 game at the Roy Sweeney Cricket Oval at Gateway Park, Brooklyn, on Sunday, October 8th, where two “giants” in the Metropolitan Cricket League met in the finals of the 2017 Roy Sweeney T20 tournament.
Westbury Cricket Club took on their archrival Villagers Cricket Club. Both teams are boast rosters of players who are on the current USA national squad or have represented the USA in the past. Over 400 runs were scored for a total of only five wickets lost by the two teams combined.
It was a dogfight! In fact, it was a pit bull of a dogfight. But, like all fights or contests, there must emerge a winner. Some wins are virtual walkovers, while others are accomplished by “true grit.” This was the case on this Finals Day. Villagers squeezed past Westbury with only four balls remaining in the 20th over. The bowlers on both sides were treated with total disdain. They were “abused, obliterated and bombarded by the batsmen. These days bowlers do need the consolation of the cricket fans.
When T20 cricket started a decade ago, a first inning score of between 130 and 140 was considered a winning total. In fact many teams have won matches with a score in that neighborhood. Then as time went by and batsmen adopted their batting style to the T20 format, a score between 160 and 175 was the sure thing. Nowadays-even scores of 190 to 200 are not safe.
In this game, Westbury batted first and scored 203 runs for the loss of only three wickets. This score was boasted by a first-wicket partnership of 133 between Derron Ferguson, 64, (10x4s and 2x6s) and Bereston Reid, 83, (7x4s and 7x6s). It was a masterful inning by Reid, who had balls sailing to and over the fence surrounding the field, with regularity. Ferguson played a supporting role but also showed power with the bat. Denville McKenzie played a cameo role, hitting 27 off nine balls. Westbury’s inning closed at 203 for 3 wickets, with Talisman Gordon 2 for 40 and Steve Massiah 1 for 34, claiming the three wickets.
It’s indeed a tall order, having to chase 203 runs for victory in the T20 format of a cricket game. However, in these days, as I mentioned above, a score of 200 plus is not safe. That was exactly the case in this game, when Villagers batted. Former USA national teammates Glen Hall and Steve Massiah (a former USA captain) opened the inning for Villagers. Westbury tasted success in the third over sending Hall, 8 to the showers with the score on 28. Current USA national team all-rounder Barrington Bartley joined Massiah in the middle. The Westbury bowlers from hence, were literally “taken to the cleaners” with Bartley hitting “bombs,” while Massiah was playing his “regular exquisite cricket shots,” his delicate square cuts, hooks, and drives, were a joy to behold. He was placing the ball with precision in the vacant areas of the field, and his boundaries and maximums were not “muscled,” but were immaculately timed. He batted like the Massiah of a decade ago.
Bartley, no stranger when it comes to “abusing” bowlers with his bat, was the second Villagers’ wicket to fall. He scored a masterful 80 runs, hitting 6x6s and 6x4s. Massiah was 106 not out, having hit 6x6s and 11x4s. The second-wicket partnership yielded 162 runs.
In his fitting stylish way, Massiah hit the winning run, sending a well-timed scorcher racing to the extra-cover boundary. He pumped his hands and his bat in the air in joyful jubilation. The win for Villagers was a hard-fought one. At one stage in their inning, Villagers needed 157 runs in 67 balls. Bartley and Massiah were just stroking singles interspersed with a double here and there. At that stage of the game Westbury was definitely on top. But once they were settled in, disaster befell Westbury and their supporters. With that last exquisite drive by Massiah to the boundary, Villagers became the Metropolitan Cricket League’s 2017 Roy Sweeny T20 Cricket Champions.