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Queens are Kings Once More!
Champions Repeat Feat, Winning Second Mayor’s Cup

By John L. Aaron
June 13th, 2008
The Borough of Queens emerged victorious for the second year in a row, capturing its second New York City Mayor’s championship in as many years. The Lennox Cush led squad playing under the pseudonym of the Helen B. Marshall XI defeated the Bronx XI, once more in the exciting Twenty20 final played at Spring Creek Cricket ground at Gateway in Brooklyn, last Saturday. (Gallery 1 and Gallery 2)

Semi-Finals Shuffle
The semis was a hot paced 10-overs affair played earlier in the morning at Seaview and 108th Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The Staten Island representative XI wielding some very hot bats racked up 88 for seven in their allotted 10 overs against the bowling of the Manhattan XI. A. Millington scored 26 in 24 minutes off 15 deliveries, including 2x6’s and 1x4, before being bowled by Sonu.

Former USA national captain Richard Staples in a cameo appearance scored 13 off 10 deliveries, with 1x6 and 1x4, along with G. Adams contributing 14 off seven deliveries in 12 minutes. Assad and Ali Zar each grabbed two wickets for the Manhattan XI.

With a required run-rate of eight plus runs per over, the representative Manhattan XI wielded some even hotter bats, knocking off the target in 9.1 overs and losing only four wickets along the way. Top scorers were Ali Raza and A. Mastaq, each with 22 apiece off 11 and 12 deliveries respectfully. Ali Raza with a blazing hot willow scored 3x4’s and 1x6 in his exact 18, in precisely 18 minutes. Mastaq had 1x6 and 2x4’s in his contribution of 22. The other main contributors were opener Ali Zar with a patient 19 off 21 balls in 44 minutes, before being bowled by Staples, and Abdul with 13 in 12 minutes off seven deliveries. His contribution included 1x6 and 1x4. Staten Island’s Richard Staples grabbed two wickets for 13 runs in his two-over spell. Thus, Manhattan had won their encounter and qualified to meet Queens, who enjoyed the only bye of the tournament.

On the other side of the park, the Bronx was doing battle with Brooklyn. Batting first, the Bronx XI raced to 125 for five in their 10 overs, setting a 12.5 runs per over target for their Brooklyn opponents. The Bronx wickets fell at 61, 79, 95, 97, and 103.

Top scorer with an even 50 was opener Eznard James. His half century included 4x6s and 3x4s off 24 balls in 22 minutes, and was supported in the opening slot by O’Neil Powell with 19, including 2x6s. Garfield Wildman had a not out stint that yielded 20 off eight deliveries, including 3x6s. N. Stanford enjoyed bowling figures of 2-0-14-3, while D. Smith and C. Hunte each grabbed a wicket apiece for 10 and 24 respectfully.

Brooklyn, set an enormous task of score north of 12 runs per over reached a respectable 109 for five in their 10 overs in the losing cause. Clain Williams, 23, N. Stanford, 20, H. Blass, 19 and O. Bostick, 14 made the gallant effort in falling short of the target. However, it was Stanford’s knock at the crease that had the fans on their feet. Batting at number five, the batsman scored his 20 runs in the following order – dot ball, 6, 2, 6, and 6, before being run out off the penultimate ball of the final over. Thus, the Bronx had earned the right to advance to the final for the second year in a row.

Looking To Repeat
A well-rested Helen B. Marshall (Queens) XI leapt at the chance to bat, after winning the toss from Manhattan.

Opening with the veterans Debo Sankar and Imran Ali, Queens seemed inclined to establish the pace of the 10-over affair from the beginning. Imran Ali was the in-form and hot bat, as Debo Sankar sought to find his grip. Sankar would eventually exit with the score on 23 in the third over. Skipper Lennox Cush joined the in-progress Ali at the crease and together the two batsmen put on a fireworks display of shots. Cush would be the earlier exit via the stumped out route, but only after hitting a punishing 63 off 23 balls in 32 minutes. His appearance reflected 10x4s and 3x6s. Ali would end his attack with a contribution of 46 not out off 21 deliveries in 50 minutes and including 7x4s and 1x6.

Making a cameo New York appearance West Indies and Guyana’s Narsingh Deonarine, the hero of Guyana’s 2006 Stanford Twenty20 US$1 million championship purse, scored 15 not out in five minutes and off five deliveries. He scored 1x6 and 1x4 in his brief appearance, as Queens reached a lightning 143 for 2 in 10 overs.

Set an almost insurmountable task of more than 14 runs per over, Manhattan encouraged by their earlier knock against Staten Island, were off to a disastrous start losing their first five wickets for 19 runs, before the team’s middle pulled things back a tad, losing the sixth wicket at 52. However, their next three wickets fell while only adding eight runs to their score. Queens’ Rajkumar Bhola snatched three Manhattan wickets off figures of 2-0-9-3, while the diminutive pacer Telston Johnson enjoyed two for 16. With Manhattan scuttled out at 60 in 8.1 overs, Queens took a line from the 1925 Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart tune, taking Manhattan and was now looking to take the Bronx too.

In The Finals Again
The action shifted at mid-afternoon from Seaview to Spring Creek at the Gateway Mall Complex and a rather festive atmosphere, as the New York City Parks Department went all out to make the beautiful sunny day shine even brighter. With the sweet sounds of the Caribbean wafting off the steel pans of a mini steel band orchestra, flags of the Caribbean and other nations ringing the well-manicured ground and an ample supply of food and non-alcoholic beverages, the scene was set for the repeat showdown between the Bronx and Queens.

Brooklyn Commissioner Julius Spiegel and his supporting cast of Parks employees, including Ann Browne, Ying Goodson, Eddie Vargas and so many others, must be complimented in making Spring Creek the place to be if you were a cricket enthusiast or not.

Several politicos took the opportunity of the fine weather to mingle with the spectators and players alike. Among those present were Deputy NYC Mayor Dennis Walcott, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benape, a dapper-dressed Brooklyn Assemblyman Nick Perry, and City Council Member Kendall Stewart, among others.

It was a toss up as to which of the two teams would wear this year’s crown, and on the same day as the favored horse, Big Brown sought to win the Triple Crown of horse racing, some 20 miles north of Spring Creek at the Belmont track. Well the Bronx won the toss for starters and elected to take the pole position – bat first.

O’Neil Powel and Eznard James got out of the gates at Gateway in fine fashion racing to 48 unbeaten runs, before James ran out of gas when on 11. James was soon followed to the paddock by the hitherto hard-hitting Garfield Wildman, with only seven runs added to the score and Wildman walking off with a duck under his arm.

Jacob Emanuel entered and with Powell, the pair added 35 runs, before Powell turned the corner and headed for the stables, having scored 59 in 44 minutes and off 37 balls. His knock included 4x6s and 6x4s. From a rumble of 90 for three after only 4 overs and 44 minutes of batting, the Bronx began to crumble, as the next six wickets fell for the addition of only 40 runs.

Maybe it was the bowling of Zaheer Saffee 4-0-53-3, Narsingh Deonarine 3-0-10-2, or Zamin Amin 4-0-25-2 that did it; however, the bowling analysis does not readily reflect the power-hitting Bronx bombers. Saffee’s first over yielded 17 runs, his second 15, and his fourth 17 runs. However, he snatched two wickets in his third over and one in his final to retain some respectability to his days work in the field. Saffee’s fellow opening bowler Telston Johnson did not fare much better, yielding 21 runs off his second over, but ending up with one for 33 of his 3.1 over spell. Skipper Cush tried switching the pacers around the two ends of the wickets, thereby giving them a chance to redeem themselves, without going to his full arsenal of bowlers on the team. The skipper himself would enjoy a stingy spell of 3-0-9-0.

West Indies and Guyana’s Narsingh Deonarine was rather stingy with his deliveries, grabbing one wicket in each of his first two overs, while Zamin Amin conceded 13 runs off of his first six deliveries, but came back to grab two wickets in successive overs, while adding only 12 runs to his jockey’s poundage.

The Bronx wickets fell at 48, 55, 90, 96, 106, 106, 112, 113, and 130 in 2 hours and 13 minutes.

Set 131 to repeat as champions, the Helen B. Marshall XI got off to a painful start scoring 29 for the loss of their first wicket, that of Imran Ali for 19 (3x6s), and soon after opener Debo Sankar retiring hurt when on only eight. Skipper Lennox Cush, the 2007 championship hero of the Queens team would not last long this year. He exited the track after scoring just seven runs (1x4) off 11 deliveries and 18 minutes in the middle. The youthful Karran Ganesh and Narsingh Deonarine got together in the middle and between 4:49 and 5:51 pm, the duo had contributed 22 and 64 respectively. Deonarine’s contribution included 2x6s and 9x4s in his 46 minutes at the crease, while facing only 34 balls.

Deonarine would lift bowler Eznard James for a mighty six to bring home the championship for Queens and the MVP award for himself. The Queens wickets fell at 29, 45, and 83. Time around the track with 136 for 3 in 17.5 overs and a second New York City Mayor’s Cup championship was exactly one hour and 14 minutes.

Queens skipper Lennox Cush would be criticized in a some corners for not unleashing the likes of Anil Seebarran, Rajkumar Bhola and left-arm pacer Reginald “Ibus” Ralph upon the Bronx bombers, while in the homestretch, however, Cush would defend his actions, saying he had confidence in his choice of bowlers in the 20-overs match. With a second championship under his belt, who can judge his selections as being questionable.

Winner’s Circle
Thus, the curtain came down with a bang on the 2008 New York City Mayor’s Cricket Cup, and as the Helen B. Marshall Queens XI took to the winners circle, it was learnt that Big Brown the favored horse had ran out of gas at the beginning of the race and would finish dead last. The Bronx XI had a much better day than Big Brown, because they started with a full tank of gas, but developed a leak along the way, only to end up second to Queens for the second straight year.

As the marriage of cricket officials, players, park administrators, politicians and the community rally together to support the game of cricket in the area, the future looks even brighter for the sport. The sport can only succeed in these United States if all the horses are pulling in the same direction. Last Saturday, was one of those directions.

Congratulations to the Queens XI and a wish of better luck to the Bronx bombers, next time around the track.
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