By John L. Aaron
In a bright golden sunny northern California valley last weekend, the North East region’s women’s cricket team shone brighter than its competition in so many ways, it was hardly a surprise that the squad emerged USA Cricket’s 2010 national women’s champions.
Led by all-rounder Candacy Atkins, the bevy of belles convincingly defeated their near-east neighbor New York by six wickets, one day after annihilating a Seattle Chargers XI by a massive 229 runs. The victories all but ensured the North East XI the championship hardware, long before the tournament concluded on Sunday in the heart of silicon valley, Cupertino, California.
Following a modest, but very impressive opening ceremony at the Cupertino Civic Center’s Library ground – where three weeks earlier a turf wicket had been installed, some 60 plus ladies all decked out in colorful uniforms, saw the 2010 USA National Women’s Cricket Tournament get underway. With Cupertino Mayor Kris Wang and Vice Mayor Gilbert Wong in attendance, as well as the county officials of several neighboring municipalities, the participating teams assembled and were led into demarcated areas by very young girls each displaying a placard with the names of the participating teams –Atlantic Region Warriors, North East Region, Western Chargers, and the Western Firebirds, the latter two teams representing the West Region. The New York team arrived later in the afternoon. Once the opening festivities were over, it was time to get down to the business at hand. Five teams, three days, five matches – One national championship.
North East vs. West Region Chargers
Winning the toss and electing to take first strike at the Cupertino Library ground, the North East team quickly began demolishing the bowling attack of the West Region Chargers by establishing solid partnerships and racing to 282 all out in 37.2 overs, which unfortunately included some 102 extras.
The newly laid batting strip was playing very low and was not expected to yield many runs. However, the batting of vice-captain Indomatie-Goordial John delighted those in attendance at the picturesque square, as she pulled and cut, displaying tremendous poise for her diminutive frame. Goordial-John’s entertaining knock of 75 would later earn her the Player-of-the-Match award. She was ably supported by wicket-keeper Monique Mathee, 45, and skipper Candacy Atkins, 23. The West Region Chargers’ Rohini Prabhune, Keerthana Kanagaraj and Sangita Jayaraman, each snared two wickets apiece and were the best among the eight bowlers used by the Chargers.
With each team required to play two matches and the championship being decided on most wins or a net run-rate, the North East was taking no chances, as they piled on the runs against an inexperienced Chargers XI. Credit must however be given to the Charges who collectively displayed a heart of gold in their gallant effort.
The North East wickets fell at 1-70, 2-100, 3-105, 4-188, 5-219, 6-260, 7-263, 8-264, 9-268 and 10-281.
In reply, the Chargers were unable to compete with the bowling attack of the North East, with a second-wicket partnership of 25, being their most charging of efforts, as 15-year old Shebani Bhaskar and Nadia Gruny captured the first three wickets, and the rest of the Chargers crumbled with zeros or single digits. Meghana Paranjape, 13 and skipper Yogita Manghnani, 12, and Extras 23, made a gallant effort to mount a charge at the imposing 281 North East total.
Bowling for the North East: Skipper Atkins 6.3-2-6-3, Nadia Gruny 2-0-6-2 and Bhaskar 3-0-18-2 were the pick of the bowlers. Triholder Marshall and Goordial-John each grabbed one wicket apiece, as the Chargers wickets fell at 1-0, 2-26, 3-27, 4-36, 5-41, 6-42, 7-48, 8-52, 9-52 and 10-52.
North East vs. New York
In a much-anticipated match-up of the tournament, the New York Region won the toss and elected to bat against a North East XI coming off of a 230-run victory against the Western Chargers at the Dilworth Elementary School ground, in San Jose.
New York was all out for 107 in 36.5 overs. Catherine Joy Jones, 21 and Louise Jackson, 20 were the only players to reach double-digits, along with Extras 38, as bad running between the wickets caused New York some crucial partnerships. Jones batting at eight was very aggressive in taking the fight to the North East as she participated in a gallant 48-run partnership, before falling a victim caught behind by wicket-keeper Monique Mathee off the bowling of Nadia Gruny, with the score at 103. It was too little, too late.
The New York wickets fell at 1-8 (Doris Francis), 2-8 (Beverly Browne), 3-23 (Joan Serrano), 4-39 (Catherine Crowe), 5-46 (Reneasha Richards), 6-55 (Louise Jackson), 7-55 (Donna Glasgow), 8-103 (Catherine Jones), 9-103 (Grace Richards), and 10-107 (Olga Charles).
Bowling for the North East: Indomatie Goordial-John with figures of 8-2-12-3 was the pick of the bowlers. However pacer Shondell Ward was impressive with 8-3-8-0. While Carlene Edwards, Nadia Gruny, Karen Bayles, and Triholder Marshall each snared one wicket apiece.
In response, the North East XI reached 108 off 35 overs and lost four wickets along the way, as they doggedly focused on completing their second win of the tournament, despite losing the opening pair of Mathee and Bhaskar with zero runs on the board.
It was Elizabeth Vitte, 16 and Goordial-John, 35 not out, who together put on a responsible 52-run fourth-wicket partnership. Skipper Atkins, 11 and Nadia Gruny, 7, along with 39 extras, ensured the win.
Bowling for New York: Catherine Jones was the most impressive with figures of 8-1-15-3. Joan Serrano bowled 8-1-27-1. Doris Francis was unfortunate with 8-0-16-0, as New York lacked the penetration needed after the initial North East opening pair collapse.
The North East’s Shondell Ward was awarded the Player-of-the-Match for her controlled bowling spell of 8-3-8-0 which kept New York pinned down, at a time when the explosive and experienced New York batters appeared ready to fire. Ward, like New York’s Doris Francis bowled their hearts out without capturing any wickets.
New York vs. West Region Firebirds
New York would later bounce back to defeat the West Region Firebirds by five wickets on the final day of the tournament. The Firebirds won the toss and took to the crease, falling for 73 all out in 32 overs. Top scorers were Durga Das and cricket newcomer Erika Rendeler, each with 10 runs apiece, as the New York bowlers, with the exception of Jones 6-1-22-0, ran through the Firebirds batting line-up recording four ducks along the way, but conceding 35 extras to the Firebirds’ modest total of 73.
The Firebirds wickets fell at: 1-28, 2-33, 3-34, 4-45, 5-46, 6-64, 7-67, 8-71, 9-73 and 10-73. Bowling for New York: Doris Francis 8-3-10-3, Joan Serrano 7-1-9-3; Grace Edwards 8-0-27-2 and Brenda Cordner 2-1-5-2, recorded the scalps.
New York in reply reached the target of 74 at the 27th over, assisted by 27 extras. Skipper Beverly Brown, 24 was the top scorer and was adjudged Player-of-the-Match, as New York lost only five wickets along the way.
The New York wickets fell at: 1-10 (Joan Serrano), 2-15 (Doris Francis), 3-16 (Catherine Jones), 4-49 (Grace Richards), and 5-70 (Louise Jackson). The wickets were shared one each, by four of the six bowlers employed by the Firebirds.
The New York victory was not enough to earn them a second-place finish, mainly because they were not able to dismiss the Firebirds in five fewer overs. However, they did finish ahead of the Atlantic Region Warriors and the West Region Chargers, in the USA Cricket’s second national women’s tournament. The West Region Firebirds would go on to finish in second-place on the basis of a better net run-rate, behind the North East region team.
West Region Firebirds vs. Atlantic Region Warriors
Winning the toss and opting to take first strike, the Warriors attempt was a bold move to soften the impact of playing with only nine players, following the suspension of two of its players by the regional administration, for on-tour indiscretions.
Wicket-keeper Pauline Williams, 22 and opener Anju Malik, 14, along with Extras, 28 were the double-digiters, as the Atlantic Warriors posted 87 for 8 in 21.2 overs. Unfortunately the last two batswomen Bushra Imran and Gulrukh Imran, both retired hurt without contributing to the team’s total.
Erika Rendler was the Firebirds’ best bowler capturing 2 for 10 off 2 overs.
Firebirds in response raced to 91 for 4 in 19 overs, as skipper Durga Das, 32 and Malathi Joseph, 21, along with 32 extras, helped the West Region Firebirds to the victory.
The Firebirds wickets fell at: 1-14 (Ritu Bhargava), 2-82 (Durga Das), 3-85 (Erika Rendler), and 4-85 (Malathi Joseph). Sahar Azmat was the Atlantic region’s best bowler with figures of 4-0-15-2, while Beulah Pidakala with 2-0-3-1, and skipper Ivy Mahabir, 4-0-11-1, were responsible for the other two Firebirds wickets.
The Western Firebirds’ skipper Durga Das was awarded Player-of-the-Match.
Atlantic Region Warriors vs. West Region Chargers
The Atlantic Warriors in an effort to come away with at least one victory from the tournament, was determined to defeat the Chargers, and they did so handsomely by a convincing 8-wicket margin.
Winning the toss and offering first strike to the Chargers, the Warriors with an injured Timika Kowlessar sidelined, sought to penetrate the Chargers’ batting line-up early. However, the Western Chargers rallied to score 143 for 9 in their 40 overs, aided by a contribution of 79 extras from the Warriors.
Top scorers for the Chargers were Sangita Jayaraman, 19 and skipper Yogita Manghnani, 17, as the Chargers wickets fell at 1-17 (Heta Dave), 2-31 (Rohini Prabhune), 3-35 (Yogita Manghnani), 4-87 (Meghana Paranjape), 5-89 (Rohini Prabhune), 6-93 (Deepa Mahalingam), 7-105 (Sangita Jayaraman), 8-112, (Sangeeta Mudnal), and 9-143 (Shwetha Kayathi).
Bowling for Atlantic Region Beulah Pidakala 8-0-35-3, Gulrukh Imran 8-4-10-2, Anju Malik 8-1-25-2, and Sahar Azmat 8-1-20-1 were the wicket-takers.
The Atlantic Warriors responded with a steadfast passion reaching 147 in 33.3 overs and losing only its opening pair of Martha Randoo, 16, and Anju Malik, 14, along the way, as wicket-keeper Pauline Williams, 28 not out, and Gulrukh Imran, 11, aided by 78 extras, saw the Atlantic Warriors regain some pride, following an inglorious start in the tournament, with player personnel issues. Rohini Prabhune and Yogita Manghnani captured the two wickets.
The Atlantic Region’s Gulrukh Imran was named Player-of-the-Match.
Last year the women’s tournament was conducted between an Eastern Conference XI and a Western Conference XI, with the Eastern Conference emerging champions. It is hoped that next year the tournament would attract a representative XI from each of USA Cricket’s seven regions.
Champions: North East Region
Runners-up: West Region Firebirds
Third Place: New York Region
Fourth Place: Atlantic Region Warriors
Fifth Place: West Region Chargers
MVP: Indomatie Goordial-John (North East Region)
Best Batswoman: Indomatie Goordial-John (North East Region)
Best Bowler: Beulah Pidakala (Atlantic Region)
Best Fielder: Erika Rendler (West Region Firebirds)
Best Wicket-keeper: Catherine Crowe (New York Region)