By John L. Aaron
In what was considered an exciting and heart-throbbing season finale, Villagers Sports Club upset the highly-favored Westbury Cricket Club in the just concluded NY Metropolitan Cricket League’s Clement “Busta” Lawrence Premier 40-overs final at Roy Sweeney Cricket Oval last Sunday. It was a nail-biter of a contest, and it could easily have gone either way, with the league-leading duo battling it out.
Many of the cricket pundits placed their bets on Westbury running away with the championship title, and without much opposition, based on Westbury’s fantastic season this year. Despite losing to Villagers by eight wickets earlier in a match that had little bearing on filling the final two championship slots, Westbury was expected to win their eleventh league championship title this year behind the prolific batting prowess of its skipper Richard Allen.
Villagers Sports Club vs. Westbury Cricket Club
Villagers won by one wicket.
Winning the toss, Villagers offered the batting strip to Westbury shortly before noon, with a slight breeze from west to east and keeping a lid on the humidity on a clear summer’s day. It was a great day for a cricket championship. And so they were off to the races.
Westbury opened with skipper Richard Allen, the owner of almost one thousand runs for the season, and Jose Northover. However, in the fourth over, Villagers saw the back of Richard Allen, 28, caught behind off the bowling of its skipper George Adams. It was strike one for Villagers. Undoubtedly, Westbury thought it could afford more than three strikes within its batting arsenal before being counted out. Despite losing its next three wickets with less than one hundred runs posted, Westbury was still in the hunt for a tally north of 280, giving Villagers something that may require an Advil or two.
From 96 for four to 203 for eight, Westbury had only added just over 100 runs at the cost of an additional four wickets. A total of 250 runs soon looked daunting as the faces of Westbury players and fans displayed dismay, frowns, abject frustration, and disappointment. At the same time, those of the Villagers depicted smiley emoji faces, joy, and wonderment – could Westbury be bowled out for less than 250?
Less than 250 was all she wrote as Westbury exited all-out for 233 in 39.1 overs. The last two wickets fell 20 runs after the loss of Ryan Bennett’s unfortunate run-out, with the score on 203 for eight. All despite a spirited and aggressive knock of 50 (6x6s) by Justin Beckford in the middle-order. Javein Thomas also got into the act, posting 40 off 42 balls (2x6s, 4x4s).
The hard-hitting Horace Porter, batting somewhat late in the line-up, scored 21, including two sixes and one boundary, before being bowled by George Adams, who would end up with figures of 7.1-0-39-3.
The Westbury wickets fell at 33, 35, 90, 96, 154, 171, 195, 203, 233 and 233. Andre McCarty enjoyed 2 for 44 off 8, while Mikey Alexis, Barrington Bartley, Ryan Burnett, and Michael Frew grabbed a Westbury scalp each.
Set just over 5.5 runs an over for the championship win, Villagers was off to a less than noteworthy start, losing its first wicket, the ever so dependable Tristan Coleman, 6, caught behind off Juanoy Drysdale, with only 20 runs on the tins and another 15 runs later, the reliable Andre McCarthy. However, Villagers would refocus on the task at hand, stabilizing its inning behind the willows of the returning Steve Massiah, 58 (4x6s, 4x4s)) and Jevoy Spence, 53 (4x6s, 3x4s). Ryan Burnett, 26, and Lorenzo McDonald, 22, chipped in to help the Village men reach 226 for nine in 38.4 overs and lift the championship trophy again since 2014, with a couple of close finishes between then and now.
According to the Villagers skipper, he had nightmares reliving the 2022 loss to Westbury. However, I am getting ahead of my skies here, back to the match details.
The Villagers’ wickets fell at 20, 35, 87, 119, 156, 170, 208, 218, and 219. Bowling for Westbury, Juanoy Drysdale 8-0-49-3 was the pick of the litter. Joseph Brown 2 for 36, and Ryan Bennett 2 for 53. They were followed by Brandon English and Romaine Johnson, with one each for 26 and 31, respectively.
It was a battle that came down to the wire, with credit going to the bowlers on both teams, as none of the usual big bats ever got to 60 runs.
Villagers skipper George Adams credits his bowlers with the victory but singled out the returning former USA cricket captain Steve Massiah for his stabilizing role in the Villagers’ middle order, adding, “Steve played a key role in our batting line-up.”
Commenting on his team’s victory after the long drought, Adams said, “With my earlier season form, I was confident that I would bowl well and targeted the area just outside Richard Allen’s off-stump, and it paid dividends.” He added it was the “greatest feeling” leading Villagers to the 2023 Clement “Busta” Lawrence Premier 40-Overs championship title.
2023 SEASON AWARDS
Richard Allen (Westbury) – League MVP
Allen led the league’s outstanding individual performance awards and his team to the championship final, albeit losing the finale after an almost perfect Westbury season record of 11-1.
Richard Allen (Westbury) – 970 runs
BEST BATTING AVERAGE
Richard Allen – Average 121.25
He had five 100s, including a knock of 237 and a strike rate of 181.31. Allen’s 2023 season at bat included 53 maximums and 44 boundaries.
Ryan Bennett (Westbury) – 22 Wickets
From his 12 appearances with the ball, he had an average of 15.41 and an economy of 5.14 with one four-wicket haul and one five-wicket haul. He was slightly ahead of his Westbury teammate Joseph Brown with 20 wickets at an average of 11 per and a strike rate of 16.2. Brown had two four-wicket and one five-wicket haul.
MOST ECONOMICAL BOWLER
George Adams (Villagers) – Economy rate of 4.07
CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL MVP
He earned the Finals Man-of-the-Match honors for his excellent glove work behind the sticks and a well-made 53 for the victorious Villagers.