By Sam Sooppersaud
The 2014 Public Schools Athletic League Varsity Cricket Tournament is in full swing. However, there are some hiccups, with numerous games having been postponed due to various reasons. The administrators are working hard to reschedule these games, as grounds become available. The games that have been played so far were, as usual, entertaining. Decent crowds have turned out to watch the games, especially the ones where there is a rivalry (friendly rivalry, may I add).

Former Guyana youth player Derick Narine struck an unbeaten 106 in John Adams' win over Newcomers.

One such rivalry exists between the Newcomers Lions and John Adams. The PSAL tourney was started in 2009. Newcomers and Adams met in the finals that year.  Newcomers defeated Adams for the championship in an exciting finish. In 2010, Newcomers and Adams again met in the finals. This time around it was a much closer finish, with Newcomers getting the last of the Adams batsmen out with two runs to win, and just one delivery remaining. Adams acceded defeat to Newcomers for the second time in two consecutive years.

In the succeeding years of the tournament, due to the fact that these two “rivals”   were in different Queens zones, they did not meet each other; 2011 through 2013.

These two PSAL schools, however, clashed at Erskine Field, Gateway, Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday, April 24, in a  regular preliminary fixture. As expected, it was a “wham” of a game! Once again, the defining moment of the game was in the last over (of Adams, batting first). The fans supporting their respective school were made up mostly of students – from the two opponents’ schools – as well as from other schools (teams). All went home afterwards, pleased, that they had witnessed a good Twenty20 contest.

Adams won the coin toss and elected to take first strike. By the end of the fourth they lost 2 wickets with only 14 runs on the board. But then a magnificent third wicket partnership of 98 runs between opener Adrian Persaud (23 Run Out) and former Guyana National Youth player, Derick Narine (106 Not Out) rescued Adams from a precarious position. Narine dominated the partnership, taking all the bowlers, at least once, for a maximum. He was masterful in his pull shots. Anything pitched up in his zone, was treated with disdain. He stroked seven 4’s and seven 6’s, three of his maximums coming in the 20th over.

That’s right, folks. It was that kind of a game, exciting, hair-raising, and a fan delight. At the end of the nineteenth over the Newcomers boys were in an   encouraging mood, the run total being 138. In two previous games the Newcomers batsmen had surpassed opponents’ totals of 134 and 112 while losing only 2 wickets and overs to spare. They figured that a score of 150 would be attainable considering their batting strength.

However, Derrick Narine saw to it that the Newcomers boys were entertaining just a dream. In the final over he faced he hit three 6’s and two 4’s. At the end of the 20th over Adams had amassed 167 runs. A daunting target for Newcomers. By this time the Newcomers supporters had assumed a somber mood, while the sparks in the Adams’ camp were flying high.

Newcomers in their reply commenced their run chase in quiet, pensive way. The first five overs produced only 25 runs. Their first fifty came in 9 overs. By this time the light had started to fade. The game was now official, five overs in the second inning having being bowled. Realizing that they would lose the game on run rate should the game be called, the Newcomers batsmen stepped up the batting tempo. The next fifty came up in 5 overs.  But bad light had the final say.

John Adams, 167 runs in 20 overs, a run rate of 8.3 runs per over won the game, Newcomers having scored 106 runs in 14 overs, a run rate of 7.6 runs per over. The players on both sides shook hands and congratulated each other on putting on a “show” for the fans.

The two coaches, this writer, from Newcomers and Coach Navarette, from Adams “bear hugged” and patted each other on the back. Their schools had just put on a masterpiece. Coach Navarette said to me, “Sam, we finally got you guys. It feels good because you guys beat us twice in finals”. These two coaches have always maintained a close, cordial relationship. Both were glad that this magnanimous spirit had existed throughout the game.

These two teams will again meet in the second round of the preliminaries towards the end of May.