By Sam Sooppersaud
Despite a blistering century and top bowling honors from Tony Hinds, the hard-hitting Queens United all-rounder, his club was unable to restrict the Kings Xl Punjab batting machine as they successfully chased and overcame a seemingly unbeatable total.
The venue was the Idlewild Cricket Field in Rosedale, Queens. New York. Located at the western end of 223rd street off 147th Avenue, this facility was reopened two years ago after having undergone a total facelift. Originally it was a swampland, and then during the Mayor Dinkins administration it was converted into a cricket ground. Then with the intervention of various Queens elected officials Idlewild was shaped into a “state of the art” cricket complex, complete with sightscreens and bleachers.
The wicket was raised and rebuilt, with the outfield beveled and. slanting towards the boundary. A carpet of lush green grass covers the entire playing area and the picnic areas beyond the field. A rich foliage of tall trees and wild flowers surround the field. There is a concrete walkway that leads to the two bleachers situated on the northern side of the field. A picnic area complete with tables and seating lines the eastern perimeter. Beyond the field is a parking area that can accommodate over one hundred (100) cars.
It was in this setting that cricket fans were entertained by the Queens United and the Kings Xl Punjab clubs. Fans were treated to some lusty hitting reminiscent of that in the IPL, and some very fine bowling. The Queens United club played their cricket at the Baisley Park field for over four (4) decades, until they were moved to the Idlewild facility within the past decade.
Saturday, May 14, 2011, was a rather quiet, slightly chilly day at Idlewild, a sleepy atmosphere, with just a handful of cricket fans in attendance, the perennial Queens United diehard cricket connoisseur of our summer sport. Coming from the eastern side of the field were the sounds of dominoes being “slapped” on a cloth covered metal table. Rasta and his friends, fixtures at the dominoes table, were engaged in their pastime (dominoes) while watching and enjoying the other pastime (cricket). Sitting in the bleachers was Fuller, with his cricket purist buddies, in their “season ticket” seats. They were in deep discussion on the history of cricket and its past stars and comparing them with cricketers of this present era.
The game was the season opener in the American Cricket League for both the clubs, Queens United and Kings Xl Punjab. The weather was less than what could be considered “ideal” cricket weather, as throughout the day the sun was hidden in the cloudy skies with a cool breeze blowing across the field. Many of the spectators wore their light winter coats. A few players had on windbreakers complete with a hood. But Fuller felt no ill effect from the chill as he came prepared: “Me, I’m not cold, I have on my long johns”, he remarked.
Once the game was started the tranquility at Idlewild was shattered. The spectators- 95% of which were supporters of Queens United- were treated to some exciting batting from the 44 year Tony Hinds. I have known Tony for close to two (2) decades. In his more youthful playing days he was always an aggressive and hard-hitting batsman. His innings this Saturday showed that he has not missed a beat. He is still a hard -hitting and aggressive batsman.
The Queens United boys took first strike. They opened with Ashley Williams and Tony Hinds. The latter was so dominant that when Williams fell with the score on 124 runs, he had scored only 8 runs of that total. Hinds spared no bowler treating all of them the same way: hammering their offerings to the boundary or over the boundary ropes with regular frequency. He was finally out for a personal score of 137 runs which include 5-6’s and 21-4’s. He was caught on the boundary going for yet another monstrous hit. The Queens United club’s innings ended at 270 runs for 7 wickets. Other useful scores were made by Wayne Stuger (23), Levi Kellerman (31), and extras (31).
Having to score 271 runs for victory – at over 8.5 runs per over – is a daunting task for any team chasing; it was a steep mountain for KXlP to scale. But they were not discouraged. They were full of confidence that they had the batsmen who, if they applied themselves, would be able to reach the asking total. As one Queens United supporter put it, “we gon lick dem over , man, dey can’t mek the runs”.
But the Kings Xl Punjab were not deterred in their determination to scale the mountain. They encouraged each other on. They were confident that they can score the 271 runs needed for victory. They were positive, and aggressive in their approach when they commenced their innings. However, they lost a wicket in the second over with the score on 17. A second wicket partnership between M. Khan and A. Mehmood steadied the Kings Xl rocking ship. At 104 for 2 wickets, a contest was on!
The Queens United smelt the aroma of victory when KingsXl Punjab lost three (3) more wickets for the addition of 26 runs. At 130 for 5 KXlP were in deep trouble. QU pressed on. But their march forward was stymied when A. Mazhar walked to the centre, batting in the number 8 position. He unleashed a tirade of shots on the hapless bowlers – 8 were used in all. In the 20th over 24 runs came off his bat. Mazhar was ably supported by M. Ishah (20) and I. Ali (39). The 47 extras, including 39 wides, did help their cause.
The KingsXl Punjab team scored the winning runs in the 29th over with Mazhar blasting a towering 6 over the midwicket boundary. He scored 92 not out which included 7-6’s and 5-4’s. A masterful innings!
Needless to say, the Queens United players and their supporters were stunned. How could they lose after posting a score of 270 runs. They blamed their bowlers for bowling too many wides. With the winning in the book the KingsXl Punjab players ran unto the field and embraced Mazhar for bring home victory to their club.
Once again, Tony Hinds put in a brilliant performance, this time with the ball. He bowled 7 overs and captured 4 wickets for 33 runs. But the other bowlers were less effective and his man-of-the-match performance was not rewarded with a victory for his club. But Tony Hinds can and should hold his head up. He did his job both with the ball and the bat.