By Orin Davidson
The biggest Twenty20 competition ever to hit New York is set for this weekend when the very best of the Big Apple’s cricketers will be on show in a virtual All Star showdown.
Except this showdown of stars is not any exhibition, rather it will be a clash for cash and an opportunity to play for the biggest prize money in American cricket.
The MAQT20 series has never yet been staged in New York, considered the Mecca of the country’s game, which is why the inaugural competition will attract the established stars, potential stars and even some of the best juniors.
They will represent the eight Leagues in the city where $5000 in cash will be at stake, the MAQT20 trophy and a place in the U.S Open where record prize money will be up for grabs, featuring the best league teams in all of America in December in Florida.
The odds will be stacked in favor of Brooklyn League running away with the championship spoils this weekend, following their triumph in the just concluded Mayor’s Cup tournament.
But with higher stakes, much stronger performances are expected from Eastern American and Metropolitan leagues. Not to mention Commonwealth League which had to settle for the runner up spot to Brooklyn a few weeks ago. The New York, American, Nassau and Bangladeshi teams are dark horses, given the lesser strength of their lineups and quality of opposition.
Should Brooklyn be at full strength they will have problems arriving at their final 11 given the range of quality players to choose from.
Former West Indies Test fast bowler Adam Stanford will spearhead the attack that includes ex United States Under-19 star Dominic Audain. He will have support from his teammates from the 2006 Under-19 World Cup in Andre “Rusty” Kirton and Romeno Dean, who are both displaying fine form this season for their club Diplomats.
Kester Sylvester, a seasoned campaigner for New York who once played first class West Indies cricket is still scoring runs in the middle order, but he could be upstaged in Brooklyn’s middle order by Gregory Anthony, who is in good touch, having top scored in the Mayor’s Cup final.
On paper though, Metropolitan League seems the most powerful, but whether all their registered players would be available is left to be seen. Should they have the likes of Andrew Gonsalves, Kevin Darlington, Glen Hall, Rashard Marshall, Dennis Evans, Dennison Thomas and Kevin Baugh, at their disposal beginning Saturday, Metropolitan will be difficult to beat.
When you add, Akeem Dodson and George Adams , Metropolitan’s list is a virtual Who’s Who in New York cricket.
Commonwealth League has a team of many good parts whose players combine their strengths in unison most of the time. They are well versed in the T20 game and it would not be surprising if they emerge champions.
Jermaine Lawson, the ex West Indies express paceman will helm the bowling attack which also has Azim Khan who will be his partner with the new ball. One of the most valuable allrounders in New York Vejai Seonarine will give support with his off spin, and there is also ex under-19 prodigy Wahab Munir who has not yet realized the fast bowling potential he displayed as a teenage. However, his brother , Hunain has developed leaps and bounds as a batsman and would be one to watch at the top of the order. Opening batsman, Shabazz Ahmed does not look the part, but he is one of the most destructive T20 batsmen in the city and often sets the foundation for run chases. Key off spinner Sudesh Dhaniram is a notable omission from the team list submitted.
Eastern American League has one of the youngest teams on show and if it boils down to stamina they should outlast all others. They have a deep batting lineup but are not as well stocked in the bowling department.
The competition will give Eastern American young batsman Andy Mohamed a chance to show his mettle, given the push he has been getting from the national selectors. Nicholas Stanford is the team’s form batsman though, and much is also expected from Clain Williams, just back from the latest of his stints with the national team at the Americas championships in Bermuda. Tamesh Balwant is a talented opener who has some catching up to do as well as Karan Ganesh, moreso in a competition of the MaqT20 magnitude. Telston Johnson and Rasheem James will carry the team’s bowling load.
Nassau League is not renowned for its playing standard and will rely a whole lot on national team captain Steve Massiah and former Guyana wicketkeeper batsman Vishal Nagamootoo. They will first oppose New York League which will be spearheaded by the most underrated all rounder in New York if not the entire country in Dwayne Smith. Smith is a wicket-taking leg break bowler with exemplary control in both the 50 overs and T20 formats. And his batting can match most of the big names as already Smith has two centuries in league competition. Hopefully the national selectors will be around to see what they have been missing in Smith. New York League will also expect much from spinner Keon Lake.
The Nassau vs New York encounter will be preceded by Metropolitan’s clash with American from 10 am Saturday at 80th Street Canarsie Park. The two winners will advance to the semifinals while also on Saturday from 10 am at Idlewild 223rd Street Park, Commonwealth will take on Bangladesh, to be followed by Brooklyn facing Eastern American.
The two winners from Saturday’s games at Canarsie and Idlewild will clash in the two semi-finals on Sunday morning at the respective venues with the victorious teams advancing to the final later in the day at Idlewild.
The tournament coordinator is Rudy Persaud, the Eastern American Cricket Association (EACA) president who is encouraging fans to show up in their numbers to share in the competition’s thrills and excitement. The tournament is sponsored by T20 Energy Drinks, Sam’s Foods and Daibes Enterprises. For additional information Persaud can be reach at tel # 917-682-6142.