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Bennett And Kingston Stars In Championship Win

By S. Ali

August 25th, 2009 | Gallery
(Celebrating 28th Anniversary) - A top-notch innings from veteran Donald Bennett, a brilliant all-round performance from Melroy Kingston and two contrasting bowling spells - a lively one from paceman George Adams and a stifling one from off spinner Ashmul Ali handed Cosmos an emphatic victory over Progressive when the two teams met last Sunday at Floyd Bennett field in the Metropolitan Cricket League’s Premier Division 1 Round Robin Final.

It was a Final destined for the MCL annals, as Cosmos staged an astounding recovery from a virtual state of comatose, engineered by a spectacular 4th wicket partnership of 98 runs between Bennett and Kingston after Progressive had pinned both batsmen into a tight corner at 96 for 3 off 25 overs. Bennett who had struggled throughout the season to come to grips with several dubious and frustrating umpiring decisions played a magnificent hand. While on the other end, Kingston wrestled with himself throughout to bury his nervousness and rebuild his seemingly shaken confidence. The odds were in their favor and the pair could not have chosen a bigger occasion to shine through the ominous clouds and deliver the spoils.

With their teammates behind them, showtime at Floyd Bennett featured stars that actually shone under the dark clouds as the pair crafted and chiseled away at the opposition’s attack. Kingson had just begun to stroke the ball with belligerent assurance when he was run out for a painstaking 45 runs, attributable to a mix-up between his runner Keddy Lesporis and Bennett. Lesporis received a late response from Bennett, declining what would have been a sharp single. By then, at 160 for 4, Cosmos had bobbed and weaved and fought themselves back into the match and had prepared a launching pad for the potent middle order. George Adams, who had waited patiently for his chance, stepped on to giant stage and would make Progressive pay dearly for a tactical error earlier, adding a 59-run partnership that came in just 5 overs, which surprisingly included only a solitary boundary. Adams would eventually be dismissed courtesy of a brilliantly taken catch at mid-on by former West Indies U-19 representative, Nkrumah Bonner.

A sweat-soaked and exhausted Bennett however remained in the wicket, soldiering along. His bat had seemingly gotten broader along the way as he continued to stroke the ball cleanly and crisply into the gaps. Cosmos had registered only eight boundaries when their innings closed on a commanding 241 for 6 off 40 overs, from which Bennett had carved and polished a championship innings of 84 runs not out. The remarkable innings was loaded with character and the expression on Bennett’s face as he sat breathing rapidly trying to sip a bottle of water relayed a strong signal of courage to his teammates. From Cosmos’ perspective, it would require an equal or better innings from at least one of Progressive’s batsmen if they were to hoist the coveted championship prize.

Progressive came into the Final brimming with confidence off of a solid season where they finished atop the points table in the MCL. The Final though had more than its dose of weather uncertainty, consistent throughout a season that was marred by inclement weather. After a total wash out of the Final in the previous week, the heavy overcast conditions throughout this day added an element of indecision to the tactical maneuvering on both sides. Progressive’s opening batsmen, captain Kevil George and Selwyn Andrew, were in an aggressive mood insistent on taking on a Cosmos bowling attack that was without ace paceman Kevin Darlington. Adams responded with an economical opening spell to halt the aggression while the ever reliable slow medium pace of Sham Ali was undone in this encounter.

Cosmos captain Dixieth Palmer found a most unanticipated spin combination of the veteran Ashmul Ali and Kingston. Ali, who had gone through the painful toils on the cricket field, where few have ever gone before, feared none on this day in producing the spell of the match. When the classy Ali took his cap from the umpire for the final time on the day, his match returns were 1 for 24 off 8 overs. That performance gave Cosmos a load of confidence and the battle lines were clearly drawn. The inspired Kingston would continue to toil as well and at the conclusion of his spell, his figures were 1 for 34 off 8 overs. By the time Clive Samuels and Dennis Evans had made their impact on the match and the young legs of Lesporis, Marlon Persaud and Naushad Khan continued to energize the effort in the field, Cosmos had furthered the end of the Progressive challenge. When Adams came up with a stunning catch at deep mid-on to dismiss former Jamaica national player Richard Staple, it left Progressive limping with a run rate that had gotten steeper with each ensuing over and the championship trophy suddenly appeared a bit too heavy for Progressive to carry. Cosmos would bundle out the last seven batsmen for a mere 64 runs to close Progressive’s innings on 185 all out. Bennett’s glove-work behind the stumps buoyed his team in the field, while the ever unruffled captain Palmer marshaled his boys like a field General in battle, down to the very end.

As the Cosmos contingent sailed their way over to Shipwreck for a team innings of a different kind, Cosmos manager Shadi Khan remarked, “This is one of the best championship titles that we have won. Championships are won by perseverance and brilliance and our team has displayed just that on this day.” By any measure, it was a remarkable come from behind performance and a reprieve of sorts for a Cosmos team that swung into the playoffs on a thread, yet producing one of the most determined and gutsy performances in the championship final to add another notch to its illustrious history by lifting their fifth championship title.

In celebration of the club's 28th anniversary, Cosmos has dedicated the 2009 season as its inaugural benefit year for a prominent contributor to its illustrious past. This year's honoree will be team manager Shadi Khan. The inaugural celebration is scheduled for Saturday, Sept 12, 2009 @ 11am at Floyd Bennett Field. All are invited.

Carl Bennett also contributed to this article

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