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Guyana-USA Tri-County Tournament A Colorful Matchup
Demerara Edges Berbice In Encore Match

By John L. Aaron
August 20th, 2008
Thanks to the generosity of its grand sponsor Insaf “Birdman” Ali of 2A’s Mechanical, Inc. the New York Guyana Tri-County Twenty20 cricket tournament was last weekend’s cricket ticket in the Big Apple. The very colorful day’s worth of cricket at Idlewild Park resulted in Demerara edging 2007 champions Berbice in an encore performance of last year, when an Essequibo XI was introduced for the first time to the tournament in New York. (Gallery)

Following a very successful benefit dinner for former Guyana and West Indies Test player Sew Shivnarain, the previous night at the Chateau Royale, the tournament, now in its fourth year, got off to a start and in honor of the former Berbice cricketer who migrated to New York in the mid-80s.

Former Guyana and West Indies Test player Sew Shivnarain (green cap) flip the coin as officials looks on. (Photos by Shiek Mohamed)

Demerara Team.

2A’s Mechanical staff. (Photo by John Aaron)

The stage was set for a very colorful display of uniforms, compliments of 2A’s Mechanical, Inc. and cricketing performances by some very colorful and exciting players. Essequibo was dressed in gold with green trim, Berbice in a baby blue with yellow trim and Demerara in the burgundy of the West indies. With white balls in play against a newly painted light blue sightscreen, the sun decided to peek out on the day’s proceedings – two matches; one champion.

Qualifying Match
Essequibo vs Demerara

Essequibo, making their second appearance in as many years, could not get pass the Steve Massiah led Demerara XI, despite giving an excellent account of themselves, in the day’s first match. Winning the toss Demerara, offered a batting strip that gave very little, no doubt affected by some very heavy downpours the previous evening.

Essequibo after a struggled start, eventually reached 109 for nine in their 20 overs. It was an asking rate of just under six runs per over, and not beyond the reach of a star-studded Demerara XI. The Essequibo batsmen offered very little resistance against the bowling attack of Demerara, struggling to get going, while committing batting and running errors that resulted in such a low posted total. Rafman with 24, Mark Gomes and Gregory Sewdial each with 16 runs apiece were the most effective batsmen for Essequibo. Essequibo skipper Tamesh Balwant was run out before he even faced one ball, by a hesitant and somewhat inexperienced Gregory Sewdial. It was a big blow to Essequibo, because Cambio, as Balwant is familiarly called was expected to pull his team back from the brink of total collapse, when he walked to the middle, however, Demerara smelled blood and quickly put Essequibo out of its misery.

The Essequibo wickets fell at 17; 25; 27; 47; 56; 90; 91; 94; and 106. Bowling for Demerara: Sadloo had figures of 3-0-24-2, while King, Massiah, Nandalall and McGarrell got into the act, each grabbing one wicket apiece.

Demerara in reply was off to a disastrous start losing their first wicket with only six runs on the board. However, it was a game-faced Demerara who exhibited confidence in reaching the targeted score, despite Essequibo offering several chances via dropped catches to Demerara. All-rounder Neil McGarrell was dropped twice, once by Travis Rodney off the bowling of Telston Johnson. That put down may have been the turning point of the match, as the hard-hitting McGarrell capitalized on his chances; slapping 52 not out off of 36 balls with 4x4s and 1x6. Skipper Massiah and Sadloo each departed with 13 apiece, as Demerara edged towards victory at 112 for 6 off 19 overs, and the waiting arms of Berbice.

The Demerara wickets fell at 6; 24; 32; 37; 79; and 99. Bowling for Essequibo: Shiv Ragubar 4-0-14-2, Telston Johnson 4-0-22-2 and R. Khan with one wicket, were the Essequibo bowlers who struck home.

Championship Match
Berbice vs Demerara

Berbice led by Zamin Amin won the toss and offered Demerara first shot at the scorecards. Demerara was quickly in hot water as skipper Steve Massiah was caught by Zamin Amin off the bowling of Khaleem Bux, attempting to square drive the bowler. It was the first ball Massiah had faced, and the first ball Bux had bowled. Score: Demerara 0 for 1. More disaster, the next wicket would fall with the score at 4. That’s where the bleeding stopped as Zaheer Saffie and Syed Mohamed closed ranks on the Berbice bowlers and posted a 73-run partnership. Saffie, 56 not out off 48 balls with 4x4s. Mohamed 48 off 35 balls with 4x6s and 3x4s to his credit, were significant contributors, before returning to the stands.

Demerara would go on to add another 46 runs, bringing their total to 123 off their allotted 20 overs, as their fall of wickets were recorded at 0; 4; 77; 113; and finally 123 for five wickets. Bowling for Berbice: Khaleem Bux surprisingly only bowled three overs and ended with figures of 3-0-21-2, while Deryck Kallicharran 4-0-15-1, Sudesh Dhaniram 4-0-24-1 and Zamin Amin 4-0-26-1 rounded out the bowling figures.

The Idlewild wicket continued to offer very little to both batsman and bowler, despite the arrival of bright sunshine shortly after the day’s matches got underway at 11:20am. Balls sent airborne landed with a thud in the outfield and stayed there, while those on the matting did not get back up much further, forcing the batsmen to constantly adjust their stroke-play.

Berbice, in response to Demerara’s asking rate of 6.15 runs per over, enjoyed an opening stand of 55, as Marlon Kallicharran, 28, and Andrew Gonsalves, 21, appeared set to demolish the Demerara bowling attack, but not before some very stingy bowling destroyed the middle order of the Berbice batting line-up. Berbice lost their first six wickets before their score reached 75, and the match did not appear set to pay full honor to one of the well-known Berbicians – Sew Shivnarain.

Deryck Kallicharran, 12, and Khaleem Bux, 11, struggled to make something happen, but unearthed very little, as the Demerara bowlers extracted whatever little they could from the dead track. End result; the Berbice wickets fell at 55; 58; 58; 58; 62; 72; 84; 84; and 91. Bowling for Demerara: Zaheer Saffie: 4-1-14-3; Kumar Nandalall: 4-0-12-2; Neil McGarrell; 3-0-9-1; and Reon King: 4-0-22-1 was responsible for the Berbice collapse and Demerara returning to the winner’s circle after being absent from that exalted position last year.

It was a crushing defeat for the Berbice XI who were highly favored to repeat as champions, however, on a track that did not particularly favor bowler nor batsman, Demerara made the most of what they had to work with, to bring home a victory that would have been described only one way by the late Jackie Gleason (1915-1987) “How sweet it is!”

It was sweet indeed, for the players (well, at least Demerara), MVP Zaheer Saffie, Special Awardee Neil McGarrell, the New York cricket fans, cricket in the metropolitan area, honoree Sew Shivnarain, and the grand sponsor Insaf “Birdman” Ali, who must have been very pleased by the response to the event.

New York’s regional representative to USACA Krish Prasad, served as the Master-of-Ceremony for the awards following the championship match and he did a fantastic job, topping only that which he had done the previous evening at the Sew Shivnarain benefit dinner.

Hats off to the Birdman, fellow business associates, and his friends who all chipped in one way or another to make the day’s cricketing event the success it was. Without financial supporters the likes of Birdman, cricket would be no where in the New York area. One cannot express enough appreciation for what such individuals do, simply for the love of the game.

Footnote: Look for Essequibo to come on much stronger next year, as the teams begin to draw from each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and thus leveling the playing field somewhat for an even more exciting 2009 Guyana-USA Tri-County championship, sponsored by 2A’s Mechanical, Inc and Insaf :Birdman” Ali.
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