EACA Power-40 Div. 1 Finals | Scorecard
By Sam Sooppersaud

Big Apple family poses with championship trophy. Photos by Shiek Mohamed

“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune,
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries…”

In the Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar, (Act 4, Scene 3) Brutus and Cassius are discussing the final phase of their civil war with the forces of Octavius and Marcus. Brutus advises that they should strike the enemy at the opportune time…. “Go with the flow… waiting around only allows your power to pass its crest and begin to ebb. If the opportunity is missed, you’ll find yourself stranded.”

Was it the decision to insert in the opponents to bat after having won the coin toss?
Could it be (over) confidence that they could successfully chase any total put before them? After all, in last weekend’s semi-final they had surpassed a total in excess of 250 put up by their opponents.
Was it the so-called “scoreboard pressure?
Was it all the hype surrounding the hostile bowling of Adam Sanford?
Was it the lack of (any) proper strategy as to how to go about surpassing a massive total?

Did any or all of the above factors contribute to the annihilation of the Atlantis Cricket Club – NY at the hands of their opponents, Big Apple Cricket Club, when the two clashed in the Eastern American Cricket Association Power 40 Division 1 Finals, on Sunday, September, 14, 2014, at the Baisley Pond Cricket Park, Queens, New York?

Big Apple skipper Zaheer Saffie collects the winning trophy.

It was a beautiful cricketing day. The temperature was in the mid 70’s (Fahrenheit). The sun was shining brightly in the clear blue skies. The cricket field was impeccably manicured. The rays of the sun produced a sort of glaze above the green, closely cropped grass. The wicket appeared hard and dry. It turned out to be an excellent batting surface. A larger than usual crowd packed the perimeter of the playing area. There was a picnic atmosphere everywhere you turned.

Prior to the start of the game, the players and a few dignitaries, who were on hand, were introduced by commentator Carl Bennett. Hon. Ruben Wills, New York City Councilmember for the 28th Councilmatic District in Queens, addressed the players and supporters in attendance. He commended the two teams for reaching the finals and lauded cricket as being the second most popular sport in the world. Mr. Mohamed Hack, Community Coordinator of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’ office, addressed the audience, saying that the Borough President’s office is doing everything possible to help with the improvement of the game of cricket, in the Borough. Mr. Hack applauded the efforts of Council Member Reuben Wills to pass legislation, in support of “cricket as an integral sport within the Borough,” and the Council Member’s effort to acquire more playing space. EACA President, Rudy Persaud, thanked all those present, adding, “I wish both teams the best of luck, and I hope we have a very competitive game.”

The coin toss was won by Atlantis’ skipper Alex Amsterdam. He informed Umpire Steve Kalloo in the middle with the skipper of Big Apple Zaheer Saffie, “We will field first.”  The opposing skipper appeared shocked that his side was invited to take first knock. In retrospect of that decision, numerous Atlantis fans expressed dismay that their team had elected to field. After all, they reasoned that experience will “tell’ you that with the sun blazing down on a well-manicured outfield, the ball would race to the boundary. I am sure that skipper Amsterdam and the Atlantis club’s brain trust knew this. Yet, they did not take the “tide at the flood”. A missed opportunity.

Atlantis skipper Alex Amsterdam (r) receives the runner-up trophy.

Was it the scoreboard pressure! Many strong batting teams have found themselves harnessed, mentally, when faced with a seemingly large total. The freedom that they would have batted with, had they batted first, is somewhat restricted. The thinking process is that “we must make that amount of runs,” rather than we’ll set a total we think we can defend. We, cricketers and fans alike, have seen how scoreboard pressures have affected the team batting second, even in international cricket.

All who have seen the former West Indies pace man Adam Sanford in action, would attest to the fact that he is a batsman’s nightmare. His short-pitched rising ball is almost impossible to handle, even by the most astute batsman. His body line type of bowling drives fear in many batsmen, I would assume. He allows the batsmen “no slack.” Over the course of this 2014 season Sanford has lived up to his reputation. He has on many occasions done the job for his club with the ball. He is one of the leading wicket takers in the league. Could this fact have plagued the minds of the Atlantis batsmen?

Walking around the crowded perimeter of the playing field I heard numerous fans talking about the “Adam Sanford” factor. The consensus of what they were saying was that the Atlantis club should have adopted a strategy where their batsmen would carefully “play him out; milk him for a single here and there.”  The batsmen would then have had 32 overs of “less stressful” batting to score the runs required for victory. Was this strategy thought about? In retrospect of the batting collapse they suffered, the Atlantis brain trust is now probably reassessing what they could have done differently.

At this time the “horse has already left the stable.” It’s water under the bridge (as they would say). Big Apple has successfully defended its title of being the 2013 champions.  Whether or not Atlantis could have done anything different is inconsequential. They are the runners-up to the 2014 Champions, Big Apple.

Big Apple's Adam Sanford collects the MVP award.

As mentioned above, Big Apple was asked to take first strike. They took advantage of the conditions. Openers Amarnauth Persaud and Donwell Hector rotated the strike with great frequency, and numerous times caused the fielders to commit errors handling the ball, resulting in several overthrows. The two batsmen scored freely. They were able to string boundaries, three in a row, twice. Helped by some very erratic bowling, the score climbed. Skipper Amsterdam kept switching his bowlers, but success did not come until the eighteenth over.

With the score on 97-0, D. Hector (44) hooked a short ball from K. Lake. The ball flew to the rope on the square leg boundary where K. Sukdeo took a running catch. Big Apple 97-1. Zaheer Saffie joined A. Persaud who fell 5 runs later for 44. Travis Ross and his captain hit a run a ball 50-run partnership when Saffie (27) went offering a simple catch to short mid on

Big Apple was able to string together several invaluable partnerships. Ross (34) and Clain Williams (32) a 4th wicket partnership of 40; A. Sanford (17) and T. Dudnauth (14), a 6th wicket partnership of 28 runs. Sandford was again involved in a partnership with S. Shameer (14 n.o.) which produced another 25 runs.

The Big Apple innings closed at 262 for 8. In an interview with Skipper Saffie prior to the start of the game, he told me that his club was looking to score about 260 runs. He was on the money! Bowling for Atlantis: G. Robinson 2 for 52; C. Davis, Jr. 1 for 41; A. Amsterdam 1 for 26; M. Noble 1 for 54; J. Greaves 0 for 19, and K. Lake 3 for 27.

Needing a total of 263 to win, Atlantis sent out the opening pair of Dominique Rikki and Shawn Mason. Big Apple countered with pace men Adam Sanford and Troy Dudnauth.  With the last ball of the 3rd over Sandford sent Rikki (12) to the showers, caught by Z. Saffie.  20-1. Mason (14) went 9 runs later, bowled by Adam Sandford. A fast yorker which uprooted his middle stump.  Skipper Alex Amsterdam looked very uncomfortable playing at the short pitched balls from Sandford. The bowler then delivered one shoulder high, and Alex could not get his bat out of the way in time. He offered Hector the ‘keeper, an easy chance. Atlantis was in dire trouble at 30 for 3.

Zaheer Saffie with his parent.

Atlantis kept loosing wickets at regular intervals. Only Michael Noble (20 n.o.) was able to put up any resistance to the Big Apple bowling attack. They were bundled out for 129 runs. Taking the wickets for Big Apple: A. Sanford 3 for 18, R. Kowchai 2 for 17, S. Raghubar 1 for 12, Z. Saffie 1 for 0, and S. Shameer 3 for 22.

Atlantis was clearly outplayed by Big Apple in all three major areas of the game; batting, bowling, and fielding. Numerous fans expressed their dissatisfaction that the game was not more competitive. Some felt that the Atlantis batsmen “did not try hard enough.”

After the game the presentation took place. A. Sanford was adjudged Man of the Match with 3 for 18, while scoring 17 runs. EACA President Rudy Persaud and NY Regional Representative on the USACA Board Krish Prasad thanked all the fans for turning up to make the final a success. They also thanked the two teams for their accomplishments in making it to the finals. The Championship Trophy was then presented to Zaheer Saffie, Big Apple’s skipper, while Atlantis’ skipper received the runner-up trophy. Both gentlemen expressed kind remarks on behalf of their respected teams.

It was a day of fun for everyone at the park. Food and drinks were in abundance. A large crowd turned out to watch the finals. Umpires for the game were veterans Steve Kalloo and Joel Dookie. Commentators Lenny Achaibar and Carl Bennett as usual, made “things” more exciting.

Atlantis Cricket Club.