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New Jersey Reeling After Losing National Title

By Orin Davidson
The effects of the abbreviated United States national cricket finals is being felt hardest by the defending champions Atlantic Region (New Jersey).

And rightly so as they crashed out after only a solitary appearance at Brian Piccolo Park in Florida last weekend.

A single bad batting performance sent them packing from the competition they won in a breeze in 2006 as the three-game series, suited the home team South East (Florida/Atlanta) which needed to play and win only one game to lift the title for the first time.

However, Atlantic’s director Shelton Glasgow is not amused.

While attributing the team’s failure to bad batting, he hinted that their chances were not helped by a shortened format used for the first time this year and the competition’s timing among other factors.

“ I am not making any excuses we played badly,” Glasgow stated pointed out that other factors might have contributed to it.
“ The new format did not allow us to recover from that one bad game, one or two matches are not enough for a national finals.”

In the three years of it’s’ existence prior to this year, the finals comprised round robin competition among the four qualifiers to determine the two to play the grand final.

As a result Atlantic Region whose season ended two months prior, at the end of the summer, had no chance to recover from a rusty showing on opening day.

Glasgow also had reservations about the timing of the finals in November which he hinted placed the northern regions at a disadvantage due to inactivity after the summer ends.

“ It should be taken into consideration that three teams (Atlantic, New York and North West) could be affected due to the long break with no cricket leading into the finals,” he pointed out. The longstanding Director suggests that the finals be held closer to the Labor Day period to allow the teams from the north to be sharp following their domestic competitions.

On the contrary the teams from Florida and California which have no winter, play all year around.

Atlantic was also disadvantaged by the unavailability of two key players Imran Iwan and Chintal Patel for the finals. Fast bowler Iwan’s wanted to be around to witness the birth of his child while seam bowler Patel was caught up in flight delays in Dubai on work commitments.
Nevertheless, Glasgow paid tribute to Central West’s ( Texas) fielding which he thinks won the game for them.

He referred to three spectacular catches which removed star batsman Rashard Marshall among others cheaply. As a result the defending champions crumbled for a paltry 73 chasing 195 for victory.

However, Glasgow feels the target was not insurmountable and should have been reached comfortably by Atlantic.

“We played bad shots,” he added which might have resulted from the players being rusty.
“Clain Williams who was in terrific form this year, Juicy (Gowkarran Ramnarine), all got out too cheaply.”

The inexplicable decision of South West (Southern California) which withdrew from the competition, citing inability to pay for airline travel ( another new requirement this year) to Florida, allowed South East a bye to the final – surprising in the circumstances - and only one win to be crowned champions which they did by defeating Central East in the final.

With South West withdrawing, it was left to Atlantic and Central West to battle in the lone semi-final match for the right to oppose South East for the title.

Central West struggled to 196 all out in 44 overs with Usman claiming three wickets for Atlantic on the opening day last Saturday. Damodar Bhatt carried Central West to their winning score with a topscore of 68 while Ankit supported well with 49.

Seam bowler Zubair Hussain then went on to wreck Atlantic with e phenominal figures of five wickets for eight runs from 7.3 overs. Hussain who ironically plays in the Atlantic league produced a dream performance against batsmen he encounters every week in the summer. Atlantic’s 73 all out was a huge embarrassment for the defending champions.

In the final, South East claimed an exciting one wicket victory over Central West with two overs remaining.
They boosted the team with the likes of Vinod Woolcoock, the high scoring Cosmos batsman that plays here in New York in the Metropolitan League.

Woolcock made his presence felt with a valuable 43 but young batsman William Perkins who once represented New York Under-19 and is now a regular with the Trinidad and Tobago senior team in the West Indies, did not help much, going scoreless, batting in an unaccustomed role at number nine.

Chasing 187 for victory, South East were indebted to Woolcock’s solid’s contribution opening the batting, and a quick fire 27 down the order from Hammad Choudary and 38 by Masssod Mohammed. They sealed the deal at 187-9 despite a brilliant 5-wicket haul from Vionrd Periagaram, the Central West medium pacer who almost clinched victory for the outsiders. He ended with 5-37.

Batting first Central West reached 186-8 with Arfan Sheriff leading the way with 47 not out. Vivek Inampudi contributed 34 and national player Sushil Nadkarnie 29. Anand Tummala got 3-24 for South East.
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