By Sean Devers
A large and vocal bipartisan crowd watched in steaming heat despite the close proximity of the Atlantic Ocean to the Northern Sightscreen, as Buxton ‘Carl Hopper’ CC and defending Champions Better Hope CC engaged in a riveting battle in last Sunday’s Final of the East Coast Cricket Board’s (ECCB) Elizabeth Styles 40-over cricket tournament at the Buxton Community Centre ground.
Batting on one of the best tracks on the East Coast, the top order of both teams were shown up by the lower order but when the dust had settled, Marlon Thomas with a Man-of-the-Match 42, and four-wicket hauls from Clive Andries and David Glen had conspired to spearhead Buxton to a nail-biting eight-run victory.
Thomas arrived at the crease with Buxton precariously placed on 40-6 in the 13th over and his 58-ball 42 decorated with three fours and two sixes, along with 28 from Andre McFarlane, who hit three fours and a six, shared in a match winning 61-run stand as Buxton recovered to reach 148 in 33.4 overs.
Lively left-arm pacer Azad Mohammed, who at times operated with a suspect action, tested the top order with several short balls to take 4-26. Sachin Singh (2-32) and Skipper Ravi Singh (2-23) supported well for Better Hope who slumped to 73-7 before being bowled out for 140 in 27.3 overs.
Bharrat Samaroo, (16*) and Rasheed Rohaman (16) added 34 for the last wicket to keep hopes alive before Rohaman, with 16.3 overs to get eight runs for a tie, give his wicket away when he needlessly hit the ball in the air to be caught at cover as Andre McFarlane ended the match to spark wild celebrations.
Former National U-19 off-spinner Andries captured 4-22 and got support from pacer Glenn, who finished with 4-37 in what turned out to be an epic battle.
Buxton elected to bat and Anthony McFarlane (11) and Skipper Marvin Cato put on 20 before Mohamed, who plays for Everest, had McFarlane caught behind before removing Rawle Fredericks (1) and Cato (6) with the score on 26.
Andries, who also played Football for Guyana, with disdain, hit Mohamed for glorious off-side boundaries before edging a big drive off his third ball to the keeper off Mohamed to
leave Buxton tottering on 34-4.
With Andries gone, the home lost Devon Benjamin for a duck and Glenn (2) as Sachin Singh struck twice and at 40-6 the Better Hope supporters were already taunting the home fans of an early finish and about using a $100,000 of their expected $375,000 winner’s purse as stakes in a proposed 10/10 match.
Thomas greeted left-arm spinner Ravi Singh with a boundary before depositing Jayden Manna, who bowled with a very suspect action, for a massive six before clobbering Ravi Singh out of the ground as he batted sensibly and picked his balls to hit.
Kwasi Douglas (11) stroked Sachin Singh for four but was bowled by Ravi Singh but Thomas kept going and smashed Daniel Khowlasar for six and added 61 with Andre McFarlane who began shakily.
But as the ball got older, the bowlers began to tire and the track got better to bat on, the pair frustrated the Better Hope team.
When eight short of 50 Thomas inexplicably played no shot and was LBW but by then he had made a match out of what seemed like a one-sided contest.
Set 149 for consecutive titles, Better Hope were still favoured to win and when the 43-year-old Roy Persaud, who played division one cricket in Jamaica in the 1990s, hit the first ball from Benjamin over his head for six and clipped him for four, the odds of a win had gotten higher.
But with the score on 21 Persaud (14) threw his wicket away for Glenn to began his demolition of the top order.
Ravi Singh (1) pulled Glenn high to deep square-leg where Douglas held an astonishing catch before he trapped Rajendra Dhanraj (0) next ball, at 27-3.
Glenn struck again when he removed Rajendra Singh (10) at 51-4 and when Andries seemed lucky to have Mohamed (0) LBW off the inside at 52-5, Mohamed undid his good work with the ball by pelting his bat away and remaining on the ground after the Umpires’ verdict in a shocking display of descent.
Khowlasar looked good and hit Andries for six, the fielder on the mid-wicket boundary misjudged a catch which went for four before he finished the over with a square driven boundary. But the batsmen at the other end were giving their wickets away with brainless shots.
After Khowlasar reached his second score of 50 (the first was converted into a century) from 30 balls with seven fours and three sixes he was LBW at 86-8 to Andries who had Clive Rampersaud (6) at 106-9 and despite the last wicket resistance Better Hope had to settle for the runners-up spot and $75,000.
ECCB President Bissoon Singh thanked everyone who made the tournament a success and told the gathering Elizabeth Styles is a marketing and Pharmaceutical company based in the USA which sponsors tournaments in Berbice and East Coast and encouraged them to buy their products.
“The more you buy the easier it is for me to negotiate for more prize money. Last year the runners-up did not get any money and I can tell you that Elizabeth Styles will do this again next year.”
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