North American Cricket Championship
By Matt Becker
The 2015 North American Cricket Championship (NACC) took place this past weekend (Feb. 13-15) under blue skies at the picturesque Nichols Park Basin in Arizona. The Florida All-Stars were representing the United States, while Toronto Cricket Club represented Canada. The teams were scheduled to play three 40 over matches, with two wins required to take home the trophy.
Toronto CC would go on to win both the Friday match as well as the Saturday match to retain the championship they first won last year, while Florida All-Stars won the dead rubber on the final day of the tournament. But that only tells part of the story, as the matches all featured exciting cricket and thrilling individual performances.
On Friday, Florida won the toss and elected to have a bowl, and Toronto put up a respectable total of 224 through their 40 overs. Zubin Surkari’s 60 not out was the batting highlight of the innings, while Florida spread their wicket takers across five different bowlers. Florida surely liked their chances at chasing down the 225 required to win, unfortunately – despite a fine half century from opener Oneil Hylton – the Sunshine State boys were all out for only 173 through 33-1 overs. The Toronto attack was led by spinner Shaheed Keshvani whose 8-2-16-4 led the Maple Leaf bowlers. Day One was over, with Toronto winning by a monstrous 51 runs, and Keshvani was the clear Man of the Match.
Saturday brought a chance for Toronto to put their name on the NACC trophy a day early, and after winning the toss they chose to have a bat. Their offense sputtered under the relentless Florida attack, however, as Amir Kiani took three wickets as did Ashais Patel. The team from Canada only lasted 36.3 overs and was all out for just 194. Halfway through the tournament and it was becoming increasingly clear that this was a bowler’s pitch.
And that trend would continue, as Ammar Sikander would rip through the Florida batsmen with a NACC finals five-fer to savor. Florida just could not maintain any productive partnerships and were all out for only 159, giving Toronto a 36 run win – and along with it, a North American Cricket Championship trophy to take home.
And so Sunday all the teams were playing for was a bit of pride as well for the love of the game of cricket. Toronto again won the toss and again decided to have a bat, and again the bowlers dismantled their lineup, with no batsmen reaching a half century for the third straight tournament innings. But in the chase, Florida would do on Sunday what they couldn’t do on Friday and Saturday, and won the match by eight wickets, thanks to a man of the match performance from Maksud Indawala whose 53 not out was surely one of the batting highlights of the entire weekend.
All told, it was a great weekend of North American Cricket. And with the American representative losing all three matches in the 2014 tournament, Florida’s win on Sunday bodes well for the future competitiveness of the American Cricket Federation.
Matt Becker is based in Minneapolis, MN and he tweets here.