2013 Guyana Inter-County champions Demerara. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

By Sam Sooppersaud
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Demerara claimed cricket champions bragging rights when they defeated Essequibo in the Finals of the Guyana Inter-County Tournament, New York City version, played at Baisley Cricket Park, Queens, N.Y. on Saturday, September 7, 2013, in front of a relatively large crowd of cheering cricket fans.

Earlier, defending champions, Berbice, were routed out of contention by a determined Essequibo side, which totally annihilated their star-studded opponents. It was a must-win game for either side if they were to stake any claim to a berth on the Finals.

Sase Narine (left) of Laparkan presents the winning trophy to Demerara skipper Zaheer Saffie.

Baisley Park on this day was hosting a Cricket Carnival. Unlike the numerous other social affairs held at the park in recent times, the various village and family reunion affairs, with loud music and dancing and dining and drinking of stimulating beverages, this was a showcase, a demonstration of youthful cricket skills. After all, the very “cream of the crop” on cricket players in the New York City areas were on hand to showcase their talent in our summer pastime.

Cricket fans supporting their respective counties, Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo, showed up in the hundreds to cheer for and support their team. A fourth, the Rest of the World, was added to provide more competition and more enjoyment for the spectators.

Unlike the 3 or 4 -day format of the original contests in Guyana (British Guiana) and more recently in New York City, the 40-over or 50-over format, this year’s competition was structured to encompass a 5-over Round Robin format in the preliminary rounds. Each team would play the other once; three matches per team in the preliminaries. The two teams with the most points at the end of these qualifying games would fight it out in a Final to determine the championship spoils.

In the Round Robin, segment of the tournament each team bat 5 overs. Five bowlers bowl an over each. The winning team in a match get 10 points. Several bonus points could be earned for attaining specific goals: a point for a team scoring 50 or more runs in their allotted 5 overs of batting. 75 runs or more get them 2 bonus points. A team getting 5 or more of their opponent’s wickets earn1 point, while getting all 10 wickets secured them 2 bonus points.

The schedule and the results of the Round Robin segment of the tournament are as follows:
Game #1″ Rest of the World versus Berbice. Taking first knock R of W scored 57 runs for 4 wickets. Faisal Taj 23 runs. Berbice replied with 61 for 3 wickets to secure the win. M. Khan 27.

Game# 2: Essequibo versus Demerara. Essequibo 65 for 6 wickets. R. Ramdeen 36.
Demerara replied with 67 for the loss of 3 wickets. Hero of Demerara’s batting was Wahid Ward who blasted 5-4’s and 1-6’s in the 10 balls he faced while scoring 28 runs.

Game #3:  Demerara versus Berbice. Occupying the crease first Demerara posted a total 70 runs for the loss of 3 wickets. Zaheer Saffie 35 runs. Berbice managed only 46 runs in reply.

Game #4: Rest of the World versus Essequibo. R o W 54 runs; Essequibo 56 for 2 wickets.

At this juncture of the tournament Rest of the World were knocked out of contention, having lost both matches played so far. Berbice and Essequibo had won one game each. Demerara had already secured their place in the Finals with wins in both games played. Essequibo and Berbice were then in a virtual semi-finals situation: winners go forward, losers go home. Their contest next!

The four teams that participated in the tournament.

Game #5: Essequibo versus Berbice. Expectations were high among their respective supporters.

Essequibo took first knock. Skipper Clain Williams took things into his own hand muscling 7-6’s and 4-4’s in a masterful innings of 67 Not Out in his team’s total of 86 runs  for the loss of 2 wickets. In pursue of the total Berbice openers, Gajanand Singh and Ryan Girdharry gave their team an encouraging start: 43 runs came in the first 2 overs. However, with the run out of Singh at the start of the third over, the beginning of the end for Berbice was on the horizon. They scored a paltry 10 more runs to end at 53 for 3 wickets thereby propelling Essequibo into the Finals. R. Girdharry 22 and G. Singh 19.

A sixth game, Rest of the World versus Demerara was cancelled as the results would have had  no effect on the matchup for the finals. Demerara had already qualified and Rest of the World had not won a single game. The stage was now set for the final matchup: Demerara versus Essequibo.

Demerara won the toss and opted to take first strike. Openers Troy Mars and Zaheer Saffie gave their side a boost scoring 93 runs in the first wicket stand. Mars was his belligerent self with the bat, dispatching bowlers at will to the boundary and at numerous times over the boundary. Saffie played a supporting role to Mars as the score raced toward the 100 runs mark. Andre Kirton produced some lusty hitting scoring 49 runs in 23 balls. Mars seemed well on his way to the first century of the tournament but was denied. With his score on 89 he attempted to launch yet another missile. He top edged and was out caught. Saffie scored 30.

In reply,  Essequibo was able to muster only 122 runs for 9 wickets. It was always a daunting task for them having to score a constant 12 runs per over. Mars again put on a performance capturing 4 wickets for 15 runs, definitely a Man of the Match performance. S. Thompson 2 for 22.