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[Source: SER/Georgia Supreme Cricket League]
A huge, powerful century by big hitting left-hander and vice-captain, Howard Wade, spearheaded Georgia Supreme’s (GSCL) drive to their second South East Regional title in four years, as they exhibited total dominance over their Florida rivals by going 3-0 in this year’s tournament. Wade, a man of large stature, stood tall, and with a Chris Gayle like languid impression, strolled his singles but launched massive sixes (ten, all told) to every corner of the broad expanse of McNair field. In between the rockets were cover drives and square cuts that zipped, unobstructed, to the boundary eight times with the utmost of ease. Gayle himself would have been impressed.
The cameo inning – only ton of the nine game tournament - vaulted GSCL to a tournament high score of 338 for 8 off the allotted fifty overs. Central Folrida (CFCA) seemed to have faltered under this assault, and their run chase had no zest as they fell for 95.
The three-day tournament got underway last Friday. The weather conditions in Atlanta was perfect for cricket, and the tournament bowled off with all six regional leagues participating, including newcomer Triangle Cricket League (TCL). USACA’s General Manager, Manaf Mohammed , and the full SER Board of Directors, including all six presidents, were in attendance.
The region’s Northern teams- AGCC, Triangle, and GSCL- dominated the first two days, each winning both of their games with impressive performances over their Southern (Florida) opponents. Defending champions, AGCC, had a close one with South Florida (SFCA) on Friday winning by two wickets, then routing Central Florida (CFCA) on Saturday. CFCA lost a wicket in the first over and never recovered, and at one stage were 29 for 9, before their agony finally ended at 60, a small task for AGCC who cantered home by 10 wickets. Traditional powerhouse, GSCL was true-to-form, crushing Florida Southeast (FSCL) by 150 runs on Friday, before exhibiting a most dazzling and exhilarating batting display in an unbroken 130 runs fifth wicket partnership between Givance (55 n.o) and Parchment (65 n.o) in cruising pass SFCA by six wickets on Saturday. The darling of the tournament and most pleasant surprise was the youthful Triangle team. On Friday they logged the day’s highest innings score of 271 in defeating Central Florida by 32 runs, and on Saturday they dismissed FSCL for a paltry 70, and won by 10 wickets.
There was much fervor surrounding the final round on Sunday. All three 2-0 teams had played well so far, and had a shot at the title. AGCC, by virtue of the big win over CFCA, was in the driver’s seat, and now faced FSCL , a team saddled with two embarrassing losses – scoring under eighty runs in each of their two inning. TCL, the young guns from North Carolina, had the most daunting task of upending the formidable SFCA seniors, while GSCL chances rested with having an outstanding performance against CFCA. The teams from the South had respect and spoiler roles to play for.
On McNair 2, SFCA batted first, and after a shaky start racked up an impressive 288, their high score of the week-end. Seventeen year old Shaquille Forbes top scored with 75. TCL responded gallantly but the youths eventually wilted under the experienced SFCA stifling pace attack to lose by over 100 runs.
A game that fully confirmed the uncertainty of cricket was played at Burdette Park. FSCL batted first and quickly found themselves in a dismal position where they had to be wondering if this tournament was worth the trip. But a great late recovery led them to 178. AGCC motored to 90 for two, and with victory in their sight, a repeat championship seemed inevitable. However, a major collapse ensued and they fell short by 40 runs. FSCL restored some respectability with a successful spoiler role.
Central Florida won the toss at McNair 1, and opted to bowl first. The highly partisan GSCL crowd was stunned into silence immediately as both openers fell, soon to be followed by Parchment, one of Saturday’s hero. Givance (41) and Morgan (37) then staged a slow recovery before both fell LBW to Jacobs, and at 83 for 5 off 22 overs GSCL’s title hopes seemed to be fading while CFSA fielders swarmed for the kill. Not to be. After a slow start, Wade began to flex his muscles, and the fielders backed off … farther and farther ‘till they lined the boundary; only a batting power play pulled some back. Now the crowd was in a chant. Over 250 runs were scored off the next 28 overs for the loss of 3 more wickets! The effect of the onslaught really showed in the demeanor of the CFCA players now faced with the imposing total. In their run chase they quickly succumbed to Dyer - 2 for 15, Francois – 2 for 5, and Taylor 2 for 9; A. Sudan top scored with 21.
Top performers for the tournament were: MVP – Japen Patel of AGCC (second year in a row); Most runs – Kennard Wade of GSCL; Most wickets - Shankar Jagadeesan of TCL; Youth Player - Shaquille Forbes of SFCA; AGCC finished in 2nd place.
SER Champions Georgia Supreme Cricket League: Seated –left to right: Andre Hooper, Evroy Dyer, Ishmael Parchment, Kennard Wade – Vice Captain, Al Givance – Captain, Leon Garrick, Mark Mumby. Standing-left to right: Glen Atkins – Statistician, Antonio Duare – PRO, Mark Baker – Manager, Jeremy Francois, Jemal Morgan, Alton Taylor, Basil Williams, Kweise Edmondson, Dean Morgan, Winfred Brome – President, Junior Williams – Coach.