By Michael Makin
Motown Cricket Club took home the Open Division trophy in the inaugural Michigan Sixes indoor tournament, hosted by Michigan Cricket Academy on Sunday, April 12, while Greater Detroit C.C. Colts won the Junior Division.
Nine teams competed in the six-a-side, six-over tournament, which provided an opportunity to prepare for the beginning of the local outdoor season, eagerly anticipated by the stir-crazy cricketers of upper Midwest.
Motown Cricket Club (l to r) Back: Satish, Anas, Vijay, Kashif (captain), Ali, Nadeem, Neill; Front: Gordon, Arman
The tournament's organizing committee, MCA Head Coaches Vasanth Krishnaswami and Shyam Mayasandra, plus MCA Information Director Michael Makin, judged the tournament a success, and hope to make it an annual event on the Michigan cricket calendar. They were delighted that players had driven up to three hours to participate, and noted with pleasure that some sixty cricketers filled the dome at Total Sports, Wixom (one of Metro Detroit's top indoor sports facilities), with the sound of leather on willow for six hour on Easter Sunday.
Faisal Sultan, Captain of Greater Detroit CC, picks up the runners-up trophy, Open Division
Seventeen matches were played in that period, with the quick-fire format rewarding clever batsmanship, good running between the wickets, intelligent bowling, and athletic fielding.
Motown (captained by Kashif Akhtar) were joined in the open division by runners up Greater Detroit CC (Faisal Sultan), who lost in the final by thirteen runs, and by joint-third-place teams Greater Toledo CC (Azmat Khan) and Grand Rapids CC (Fahad Ilahi), as well as an ad hoc team representing the University of Michigan (Ali Iftikhar), who very narrowly missed the playoffs, despite inflicting a defeat on the eventual champions.
Matches were played in quadrants on the dome's full-sized Astroturf soccer pitch, using a revised, indoor version of the familiar six-a-side rules.
These rules kept the ball in play and kept fielders, perhaps lethargic after months of snow and cold, active: balls hit to the dome walls remained live, while the only scoring boundaries were fours, making batsmen place their shots and fielders chase the ball on the ground. Every player was required to bowl one over per innings, leading Motown's regular wicket keeper, Nadeem Muqueem, to comment after the final match that "if not for my bowling spell, we would probably have [won] by a much...much wider margin."
Some observers thought that Nadeem's modesty was, perhaps, excessive, while everyone enjoyed the quick turns of fortune guaranteed by a format in which players found themselves in unfamiliar situations, whether behind the stumps or with the ball.
Greater Detroit Cricket Club Colts, Michigan Sixes Junior Champions
In the Junior Division GDCC Colts, captained ably by Haris Ahmed, carried all before them, defeating the host club's senior team, the International Challengers (Anurag Yerabati) and junior team, the Michigan Royals (Mahesh Rao). The Royals (average age eleven) also held a single-wicket competition for team members, which was won by the youngest player in the tournament, their wicket keeper, nine-year old Neil Makin, who narrowly beat big-hitting twelve-year-old Shriman.
In the Open Division the MVP trophy went to Toledo's Ravi, whose forceful batting and economical, accurate bowling carried his team; the spectacular hitting and elegant stroke play of Fahad Ilahi of Grand Rapids won him the Best Batsman award, while the Best Bowler was judged to be Grand Rapids' Arun Kumar, who combined penetration with the economy vital for success in this, the shortest of all formats.
In the junior division, GDCC Colts' Wasim Patel was the unanimous choice for MVP, outstanding with both bat and ball, while Deepak Chilla's controlled aggression always kept MCA's Challengers in contention and won him the Best Batsman award, and MCAâ€™s rapidly-developing off spinner Pawan Canchi again demonstrated the value of a cool head and a good line and length, to take the Best Bowler award.
At the awards ceremony which concluded the tournament the organizers thanked umpires Jayanth Canchi, John Titus, and Philip Allen who showed great skill in adjusting rapidly to the particular conditions of small-sided, limited-space indoor cricket (not to mention adjusting to the intensely competitive spirit it engendered among players), and also expressed their particular gratitude to Shahid Ahmed, Chairman of the Michigan Cricket Association, whose support and promotion of the tournament had been essential to its success. In his turn, Mr Ahmed spoke of his hope that the tournament would become an annual fixture.
MCA players celebrate individual achievements: left to right, back row - Jai Sura (International Challengers and Royals), Anurag Yerabati (Captain, Challengers), Pawan Canchi (Challengers, Best Bowler, Junior Division), Deepak Chilla (Best Batsman, Junior Division); front row - brothers Neil Makin (Royals, Champion, Single-Wicket Competition) and Gordon Makin (Motown CC and Challengers)
Junior Division: Omar Khawaja (GDCC Colts) batting against MCA Royals (Neil Makin keeping wicket)