By Sean Devers
A fine all-round performance from Feaz Mustapha yesterday spearheaded Queen’s College (QC) to an exciting five-wicket victory against Berbice High School (BHS) at the Guyana National Stadium in a match organized by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Education.
Mustapha took 2-28 with his medium pace on a flat track in sweltering heat as BHS reached 167-9 off their allotted 40 overs after electing to bat first and then returned to stroke a 66-ball 51 to see the City school reach 168-5 with one over to spare to spark wild celebrations among their many schoolmates in the stands.
Mustapha, who featured in an entertaining 113-run fourth wicket partnership with Sunil Rupee, who finished unbeaten on an 82-ball 57 with five fours, was named Man-of-the-Match and received a trophy and a ticket from the Guyana Cricket Board for the second One-Day International in Guyana on March 22.
Watched by a raucous crowd, made up of predominantly students for QC and BHS, Neil Barry Jr. struck twice in the opening stages of the contest (which was used to revive the battles between the two schools for the first time in over two decades) to leave the Berbicians on 16-2.
Barry, the son of former Guyana cricketer and QC ‘old Boy’ Neil Barry senior, bowled Ryan Hussain for a duck and then scattered the stumps Hardat Singh (2).
Sports Minister Dr Frank Anthony, Minister in the Ministry of Education Desrey Fox, Director of Sports Neil Kumar, former Test off-spinner and QC ‘old Boy’ Roger Harper, ex-Test wicketkeeper Ivor Mendonca and GCB President Chetram Singh were among the crowd which was bigger than the one for Guyana’s first class match at the same venue last week.
They were treated to impressive batting from Brandon Balkissoon and Kumar Bridgelal who joined forces with BHS in trouble at 60-5 when Kaveem Hinds (1) was run out and the two put together 73 before Ballkissoon (54 from 92 balls) missed a big heave and was bowled by left-arm spinner Javeed Rasheed in the 36th over at 136-6.
Bridgelall, who reached the boundary eight times in his 63-ball 51, then added 32 from 18 balls in a belligerent seventh wicket stand with Derwin Clarke who did not contribute a single run.
Bridgelall, who skied a catch to the keeper in the final over, was one of just three batsmen to reach double figures for the New Amsterdam institution as Rasheed, who conceded 11 from his last over, finished with 2-26 from eight overs. Skipper Tregon Henry (24) also batted well before falling for 24 from 52 balls with two boundaries.
Barry, affected by influenza, only bowled six overs and took 2-16 while Mustapha had 2-28 from eight overs Carlye Collins (8) and Jimal Marks (13) departed in quick succession when QC began their reply, while Tejprackesh Persaud (11) fell shortly afterwards as the City school slipped to 41-3.
It was at this stage that Rupee and Mustapha joined forces to revive the position with Mustapha reaching his fifty from 64 balls with four fours. Rupee, who stroked Clarke gloriously to the cover boundary to reach his half-century from 75 balls with five fours, remained to the end after his team needed 29 from the last five overs.
A few fumbles in the field and three wides in the 38th over from Kirk Jhetoo, who removed Mustapha and Avian Rodrigues (1) in his only over, added further drama to the well organized contest which was arranged by the National Sports Commission and the Allied Arts Department of the Ministry of Education.
Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Education Minister Sheik Baksh, along with Dr Anthony and Kumar, took a break from Budget debate in Parliament to be present at the presentation ceremony after the game.
Harper, who bowled the first ball of the match, said he was honoured to be at the revival of the competition between the two schools which has been dormant for so long and said that too often the importance of sports is underplayed.
“I feel very excited and heartened to hear of all the plans the Minister has for cricket at the school level and I feel that the huge sums of money we spend on crime if some of that is spent on sports it would save us millions we use for crime since involvement in sports will leave less time for involvement in crime,” Harper opined.
Kumar said sports is much more than play and helps to teach teamwork. He added that this competition will be an annual affair and thanked the GCB for providing the scorers, Umpires and balls for the game.
Prime Minister Sam Hinds spoke of the days in the 1950s and 1960s when he attended QC and there was an annual competition between QC, BHS and Saints Stanislaus College.
He also spoke of the benefits of being involved in Sports and obviously unaware that there is a national inter-secondary school competition which involves 49 schools, challenged the Sports Ministry and Education Ministry to organise a national schools’ competition instead of just one between the teams that played yesterday.
The Final of the national schools’ competition is scheduled for the Guyana National Stadium at Providence next Wednesday.
Fox, herself a former bodybuilder, said that the Education Ministry is working closely with school Heads about the role sports should play in school.
She said that many heads feel school is for school work and informed that her Ministry is trying to change that culture within many of the schools and to also look at the ‘extra lessons syndrome’ which is preventing many talented students from participating in sports in the afternoons.
“A bill for us to have more input at Private schools has been tabled in Parliament and we are looking at having one afternoon per week set aside for sports at the public schools. We will also be working to have more trained PE teachers in the school system since that subject is now on the curriculum,” Fox added.
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