By John L. Aaron
Metropolitan Cricket League (MCL) arch-rivals Westbury Cricket Club and Villagers Sports Club will do battle this Sunday in the Clement “Busta” Lawrence annual 40-Overs classic this Sunday at the venerable venue named after a New York cricket icon Roy A. Sweeney at Gateway Drive, Brooklyn.

Roy Sweeney died in 2013 at the ripe young age of 78 after a lengthy battle with diabetes and other health-related issues. This championship final is a fitting tribute to the long-standing servant of the sport in the New York metropolitan area and between the top two teams in the MCL.

George Adams and Richard Allen
Captain of the two teams in the final, (L-R) George Adams and Richard Allen.

This weekend’s finalists earned the right to meet, although the path of Westbury was straight, with only one defeat. At the same time, Villagers suffered losses to Westbury and Atlantis but survived to reach the championship final.

Villagers arrived at the finals berth with a narrow but convincing semi-final victory over league upstarts Atlantis Cricket Club – NY at the same venue last Weekend, while Westbury emerged victorious in an overwhelming fashion over Lucas Sports Club at home on Long Island, despite a spirited knock of 93 by Vishaul Singh in a losing cause batting for Lucas Sports Club.

Atlantis Cricket Club-NY vs. Villagers Sports Club
Villagers won by 34 runs.

Winning the toss, Villagers skipper George Adams opted to occupy the middle first and no doubt looked to post an unreachable target for the Atlantis squad, and in many ways, they did, despite another poor start against the brash upstart Atlantis.

Within the first five overs, the Villagers’ top-order bats were back in the shade at 32 for four. However, the team’s middle order and tailenders upheld their end of the bargain for their club, posting 193 runs for the loss of only an additional four wickets. It was a remarkable stand-off against a penetrative Atlantis bowling attack.

Atlantis must have been visualizing a pathway to the finals after seeing the backs of Lorenzo McDonald, 1, c. Steve Roopnarine b. Jaden Norville, Tristan Coleman, 11 (1×6, 1×4), c. Steve Roopnarine b. Dillon Bourne, Barrington Bartley, 0, b. Dillon Bourne and Michael Frew, 12 (2x6s), c. Steve Roopnarine b. Dillon Bourne. The host’s shed was beginning to get crowded with the U-turning batters. However, emerging from the shade were the likes of Andre McCarthy, 59 (1×6, 5x4s) b. Prashanth Nair and Ryan (Max) Burnett, 55, not out (4x6s, 1×4), and tailender Mikey Alexis, 29, not out, including four massive maximums, rounding out the Villagers’ total at 224 for the loss of eight wickets in their 40 overs.

A 224 total would prove enough of a defendable sum for the veteran club in the long-standing Metropolitan Cricket League. The tail-end performance by Mikey Alexis may have been the undoing of Atlantis for two reasons. One, it added a punctuation mark to the Villagers’ inning, thereby boosting the confidence of the boys in red and blue, and secondly, a total of over 200 was somewhat of a dispiriting visual for the boys in green and yellow after such a great start with the ball.

George Adams
George Adams picked up two wickets as Villagers beat Atlantis. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

The Villagers’ wickets fell at 14, 16, 16, 32, 114, 131, 139, and 181, posting 224 for 8 in their 40 overs at the middle. Atlantis’ Dillon Bourne, with 8-0-38-3, was the pick of the Atlantis bowlers, followed by Prashanth Nair with 3 for 50 off his eight overs. Jaden Norville rounded out the bowlers’ success with one for 41 off his five overs.

Set a target of 225 at just under six runs per over. Atlantis set about the task at hand with Marvan Prashad showing a lot of confidence and stroking the ball very well before his opening partner Darius Gopaul, 2, was dismissed in the third over.

Marvan Prashad took control of his end, hitting two boundaries and two maximums in his eighteen-ball 27 at the middle. Prashad was joined by his skipper Randall Wilson, and three overs later, Prashad was heading back to the shade and making way for Freddy Pestano to join Wilson in the middle. The pair would build a 70-run partnership before they were separated by Freddy Pestano’s departure for 42, with 3x6s and 2x4s, and the Atlantis score at 109 for three in the sixteenth over and slightly ahead of the required run rate and seven wickets in hand. Skipper Randall Wilson’s unfortunate dismissal when he was just on 50 (4x6s, 1×4) was a blow to the confidence of Atlantis, as they have come to depend on the stable and level-headed leadership of the youthful skipper.

With Wilson’s departure, the Atlantis ship appeared rudderless and drifting in the winds, despite the onboard presence of vice-captain Kellon Carmichael and first-mate Steve Roopnarine, two talented batsmen. Roopnarine would be the first to go at 155 for five, having contributed exactly a donut center. Carmichael took the oars to steer Atlantis from running aground, but his efforts were in vain as he got the dreaded finger from Umpire Mustaq Mohamed. Carmichael’s visit to the middle left a deposit of 26 (2x6s, 2x4s).

At Carmichael’s departure, the required run rate hovered at just under six runs per over. Atlantis could still see some light at the end of the tunnel, despite the dwindling of batters of equal caliber left to emerge from the shade. With the rapid dismissals of Dorrel Evelyn, 10, who showed a clear intent to get on top of the Villagers’ bowling, and Jaden Norville, Isiah Gomez, and Dillon Bourne, failing to trouble the scorers, it was over bar the shouting at 190 all out in 36.4 overs.

The Atlantis wickets fell at 20, 39, 109, 147, 155, 160, 180, 181, 188, and 190. Evidence that perhaps Villagers had posted some thirty runs too much for the Atlantis batters. The difference may be attributed to the 29-run cameo appearance of Mikie Alexis at the tail-end of the Villagers’ inning.

Of the seven bowlers used by Villagers, Michael Frew was the pick of the litter with figures of 6-1-15-3 and an economy of 2.65 per over. Mikie Alexis, skipper George Adams, and Ryan Burnett each secured two wickets apiece in the Atlantis defeat. Thus, Villagers had earned the right to battle the winner of the Westbury vs. Lucas encounter some twenty-six miles away on Long Island.

Richard Allen
Richard Allen scored another century of the 2023 season, hitting an even 100.

Westbury won by eight wickets.

Some may have argued that Lucas would roll over and play dead to the reputation of the record-run season Westbury was enjoying behind the blade of its skipper Richard Allen. And perhaps, Westbury also thought so after winning the toss and offering Lucas the chance to bat first.

Former Guyana and West Indies left-hander Visual Singh clearly intended to go after the Westbury bowling lineup from the start, posting 93, including ten boundaries and one maximum during his 104-ball stay at the middle. The almost-ton would not be enough for Lucas to post a challenge for the Westbury yellow and blue-clad boys simply because Singh did not receive the necessary support from the willows of his teammates, who did not hang around long enough, despite a favorable start of 44 before the loss of the first Lucas wicket. The contributing individual scores of the supporting cast of ten Lucas batters ranged from 0-16 at the speed of 37.3 overs.

The Lucas wickets fell at 44, 90, 113, 120, 148, 169, 170, 191, 196, and 197. Westbury’s Brandon English 8-1-36-3 was the top wicket-taker, followed by Ryan Bennett 2 for 39, Juanoy Drysdale 2 for 52, and Romaine Johnson and Joseph Brown with one wicket for 37 and 39, respectively.

Westbury must have taken to the middle smelling the semi-final seasonings of a Villagers vs. Westbury championship final, despite losing its first wicket at 27 at the beginning of the third over of their inning. The second wicket would fall 134 runs later.

The Westbury inning was indicative of the club’s clinical approach to carving out a victory in the semi-final, potentially the 2023 final, and another possible league champions trophy.

From the onset, it was once again the Richard Allen show, as the prolific batting allrounder who ironically represented Lucas Cricket Club in his native Jamaica and Lucas Cricket Club in New York showed why he is at the top of the batters’ box with almost 1,000 runs for the season despite dropping off slightly during the 2023 season.

Visual Singh
Former West Indies and Guyana batsman Visual Singh scored 93 for Lucas. Photo by WICB Media/Randy Brooks of Brooks Latouche Photography

Westbury would win by eight wickets, with Richard Allen posting an even 100 on the board. Carlos Green would ride alongside Allen at 72 runs off 49 deliveries, including 2x6s and 10x4s, following Jose Northover’s dismissal for 14 in the third over.

The Westbury wickets fell at 27 and 161, with Lucas’ Runnell Williams and Julien George each responsible for a scalp.

The stage is set for the grand finale to the 2023 Clement “Busta” Lawrence Premier 40 overs championship final and gets underway at 11:30 am this Sunday, August 20, at the Roy Sweeney Cricket Oval in Brooklyn.

Come out and watch some exciting cricket between two deserving championship teams.