ONDRIVE With SHAM SAMAROO
Defending champions, Westbury Cricket club, steamrolled Queens United by eight wickets to retain the prestigious Metropolitan Cricket League Premier “Busta” Cup title.
The highly-anticipated final turned out to be a disappointment for the large crowd at the Idlewild Cricket field. But you certainly wouldn’t get that impression talking to the fans. Most felt that Queens United, new comers to the MCL, were “fortunate” to make it to the finals, and credited Queens United’s success mostly to beginners’ luck.
United fans, however, would beg to disagree, saying their team rightly earned and truly deserved a place in the finals. And, unlike that lying, two-time loser Hillary, Queens United were gracious in defeat. At the presentation United skipper, Richard Staple, one of the highly respected talents of his generation, was full of praise for Westbury. He also proudly spoke of his team’s journey to the finals, and jokingly admitted that his team “came up about 100 runs short” on the day.
Indeed, sportsmanship, common courtesy, and respect are the watchwords of the MCL. And while here, let’s give a big shout out to managers and team personnel (Jeff James, Nathan Henderson, Venelda Wallace) and so many others, too numerous to mention.
Such individuals are the daily guardians of the proud legacy of MCL. As a former manager myself, I know only too well how least appreciated our work can be despite being among the hardest working, and most dedicated members of an organization.
Westbury prides itself on being the “Yankees” of New York cricket and their record is certainly an enviable one. Westbury made the finals in each of the last four years (2014 -2017) of the Busta Cup Premier 40-over competition, holding a 2-2 record: winners in 2016 and 2017, and runners-up to Lucas in 2015, and Villagers in 2014.
This season the team was on a mission to successfully defend the title they won in 2016. With mission clearly defined, Westbury waltzed through the playoffs with panache. In the qualifier, they tamed Lions by 214 runs. In the early exchange, Lions had Westbury on the mat: six batsmen back in the pavilion with a total contribution of a mere 82 runs. But it was here that we caught a glimpse of the depth of Westbury’s batting. The number eight batsman, Joseph Brown, strolled to the crease and plundered a 55-ball hundred (12×6 and 5×4). And the number six, Horace Porter, was second top score with an invaluable 61 as Westbury signed off with a flourish on 277. The bowlers then took charge dismissing Lions for a miserly 63. Westbury’s Juanoy Drysdale was the wrecker-in-chief with 5 for 21. Into the semifinals, and set a victory target of 217 by Suburbia, Westbury romped home by 8 wickets with openers Tristian Coleman (125 n.o.) and Bereston Reid (53) sharing a century opening stand. Westbury, it seemed, was peaking at the right time.
To the finals we go, and Westbury called correctly at the toss. With a few clouds around, and a bit of moisture in the air, Westbury sent in Queens United hoping to capitalize on ideal conditions for swing and seam. Out to the middle strode openers, Richard Staple and Andrew Davis, and they comfortably negotiated the new ball burst of Linden St. Louis and Juanoy Drysdale. But in the fourth over and with the score on 19, Drysdale removed the experienced Staple with an absolute peach of a delivery.
Drysdale soon after accounted for Andrew Davis, and the ‘big fish’ Nkrumah Bonner for 8 as United limped to 49 for 3 in the 10th over. Looking to exploit their early advantage, Westbury upped the pressure. But half centuries from Gavin Wallace and David Morgan readdressed the balance with a threatening 66-run partnership. However, with the score on 115, Dennison Thomas broke through removing Wallace for 51. What followed after was a regular procession to the middle and back. Morgan stoutly resisted and was the 8th batsman out for a well-played 73 (3×4 and 3×6). Queens United got to 192 for 9 in their 40 overs. Drysdale (3 for 39), Wayne Cuff (2 for 27) and Clinton Lewis (2 for 35) did the damage.
Westbury fans know their cricket. Aware their team bats deep, they were confident that a target of 193 was never going to be much of a challenge and were already starting to celebrate. Last season, their talisman, opener Tristian Coleman was majestic, scoring 1000 runs and five centuries including a magnificent hundred in the 2016 “Busta” finals. He was also coming off a brilliant, undefeated hundred in the semifinals last week against Suburbia. But Queens United briefly interrupted the pre-celebration when Charlton Senior struck a crucial blow removing the dangerous-looking Coleman for 12. But the early wicket of Coleman was as good as it got for United. Fellow opener Bereston Reid (58) and MOM Odain McCatty (75 n.o.) shared a majestic, and ultimately match winning, 145-run partnership that completely knocked the brief wind out of Queens United. Westbury cruised to a compelling 8 wicket win, the same margin of victory as last season. It was an imposing performance by a team at the peak of its powers, and brimming with confidence.
1) Westbury skipper Tristian Coleman (L) and Manager Dwight Meikle with the “Busta” Cup
2) Champion, Champion! Westbury ‘championing’ to DJ Bravo’s Champion