By Sam Sooppersaud
Twenty20 move aside, the sixes are here. I grew up listening to Test cricket on the radio. At that time British Guiana, later Guyana, had no television broadcast service. It was great fun listening to the commentators describing the exploits of Worrell, Walcott, Weekes, Sobers, Kanhai, and the other super batsmen of that era.
Later with the introduction of the One Day Internationals, the ODI’s, I no longer was interested in listening to Test cricket. I became hooked on ODI’s. Then came the miracle of the Twenty20 format. Now, I was hooked. This format was introduced to revive the falling interest in cricket. Neither Test cricket nor ODI’s brought in large crowds. India was the exception. The Indian cricket stadia were always fill to capacity, regardless of what format of the game was being played.
The IPL (Indian Premier League), The Big Bash in Australia, The Caribbean Premier League, and the various Twenty20 tournaments around the cricketing world have brought the interest in the game “back to life”. Cricket is now competing with soccer for spectatorship.
A few years ago I turned on my television and I was amazed to see that The Hong Kong Sixes was being played. I had never heard of this format of the game before. The first words I heard from the television was, “Need 95 runs in the 6 overs to qualify for the semi-finals.”
Hey wait, am I hearing things, 95 runs in 6 overs. To add to my bafflement, the commentators were saying that that target was easily reachable. Wait a minute, was my hearing bad? Then I saw six fielders take to the field. It was a six-a-side game. To come to the point, the batting side attained the required 95 runs and won the game. Boy, was that an awakening!
On Sunday, May 3, 2015, the NY Metropolitan Cricket League staged a Sixes cricket festival to launch its 2015 cricket season. My summation of this format is that it is not just exciting it is exhilarating. If Twenty20 cricket was invented to entertain the fans, then The Sixes was invented to “blow their minds”. Many fans went home after a day of screaming (in support of their favorite team, with a hoarse throat or bruised esophagus.
If you were not at Erskine Creek Field, (Gateway Park) on this Sunday, then you will have missed some exciting cricket. July 4th had arrived. The batsmen were spraying red missiles – the red cricket ball – “all over the place”. Spectators probably lamented not wearing a helmet while watching the game. It is fortunate, indeed, that no fan was hit by one of those flying objects.
The day’s proceeding started with, of course, the preliminary rounds. Thirteen of the 14 teams registered with the league took part in the tournament. Queens United having just joined the MCL, did not field a team. But Tony Hinds and his men were there to give their support to the other clubs.
The following are the results of the preliminary round: Progressive (36-0) vs. New Hope 28-3), Suburbia (26-1) vs. Staten Island (25-3), Cosmos (53-2) vs. Mid Island (22-5), Lucas (27-1) vs. Villagers (28-2), Lions (29-0) vs. Westbury (31-0), and Pioneer (51-1) vs. Spice Island (48-3).
After the second game of the day, there was an impromptu ceremony, when the Brooklyn Borough President and the State Senator for that district, were introduced to the fans. As usual, being politicians, they promised “the world “to the game of cricket. (Note: the bathroom facilities adjoining the cricket park was locked. These politicians couldn’t even use their clout to get the Parks Department to open the facilities). So much for their promises!
Let’s get back to the cricket. Following the preliminaries, the Super Six was played, as follows: Progressive (20-0) vs. Suburbia (18-4), Cosmos (35-1) vs. Progressive (34-1), and Westbury (50-0) vs. Pioneer (29-2). Villagers had drawn a bye and did not take part in this portion of the tournament.
The crowd by this time had grown to at least two thousand fans. The league had erected a large white tent. This was the “food tent”. Fans and players were treated to a delicious meal of rice and peas, with fish, prepared West Indian style, jerk chicken – lots of it, green salad, and other mouthwatering dishes. Everyone who wanted to, had, enough to eat. Some of the folks had brought along some cold “invigorating beverages”. (I am not at liberty to say what these beverages were)! The picnic was truly on.
The Semi-Finals began with Cosmos blasting their way to 50 for 1, in their 3 overs. Progressive replied in like bellicose manner, surpassing the required target with 3 balls to spare 53-3). In the other Semi-Final, Westbury (45-1) toppled Villagers (39-3).
It was now time for the finale. The two top teams, not only on this day, but over the years, Westbury and Progressive were set to do battle against each other. The fan support for each was tremendous. Fans whose teams were already out of the running, threw in their support to their favorite in the final.
Westbury took first knock and scored 54-1, due to good knocks by Jaime Merchant, 20 Run Out, which included 2×6’s and a boundary. Javier Thomas contributed 31 Not Out, hitting 3×6’s and one boundary. In reply, Progressive fell short by 21 runs. Dewar in a valiant, but losing effort, blasted 3-6’s in a personal score of 26 Not Out. Westbury hence dethroned the reigning Sixes Champions, Progressive. There were celebrations all around, while the progressive supporters were in a less festive mood.
In the presentation ceremony following the games, President of the MCL, Mr. Cliff Roye thanked all the clubs for “putting on a show” for the fans. He thanked the fans for supporting the day’s “cricket festival”. To his Executive Board, he heaped praise, for planning and executing an entertaining day of fun and cricket.
Receiving personal accolades were Merchant, from the Westbury club, Best Batsman Award, 117 runs aggregate (11×6’s , 7×4’s), and from the Cosmos club, Lenroy White, the Best Bowler Award, 4 wickets for 54 runs, including a Hat-Trick. Honorable mention went to Dewar from Progressive, 75 runs, (5×6’s, 5×4’s), and Andy Mohamed, Cosmos, 54 runs (6×6’s, 2×4’s). In the bowling department, Progressive’s Rudwell Busgith, 3 for 33, and Westbury’s Merchant, 3 for 32.
It was a fun day for all. The Metropolitan Cricket League begins its 2015 season on Mother’s Day, May 10th, and invites cricket fans to come out and enjoy the “boys of summer” display their skills.