The Nevis Masters’ Cricket team, is the 2018 champions of Masters’ Cricket in the Leeward Islands, a competition which had eight teams competing.
The two finalists met in front of a hugely impressive and vociferous crowd, on Sunday 20th May, on an extremely wet outfield at the ET Willet park.
The wet conditions forced a delayed start to the proceedings on the final day, but kudos must be given to ground staff, for getting the playing area available, sometime after midday.
Nevis qualified for the grand finals, by taking care of a determined St. Maarten and St. Croix teams, respectively. After amassing an imposing 190 runs, in their turn at crease, the Nevisians easily restricted Anguilla, to seal the other final’s spot.
In the grand finals, St. Croix won the toss and elected to take first knock.
Wicket-keeper/batsman, Evans, who previously played for St. Maarten and Clifford Walwyn, started impressively, with a few cracking shots. Ardie Liburd, at backward point, held on to a stinger from Evans, off the bowling of debutant Dennis Clarke- arguably the catch of the tournament.
Clifford Walwyn got a definite break when Wendell Wallace, for all intents and purposes, had him trapped plumb in front, playing across the line, but the umpire saw it differently, much to the chagrin of the home fans.
As if in poetic justice, he soon holed out at extra cover off the same bowler.
The aggressive Winston Sutton, soon went for a one ball duck off the bowling of Dennis Clarke, and the St. Croix batting was in tatters.
However, Cornelius and Bola teamed up in a sensible partnership, to eventually drag their team to 107 for 9 in their allotted 15 overs.
Nevis in response, lost the early wicket of Grant, but Merlin Liburd and Ardie Liburd teamed up in an enterprising partnership, to seemingly put Nevis in the driver’s seat.
However, the St. Croix spinners soon started to make an impact and boundaries were hard to come by and the batsmen did not seize every opportunity to run the singles and the twos.
It came down to seven runs required off the final over and some of the spectators were virtually sitting on needles.
However, when Ardie Liburd smashed the penultimate delivery over extra cover, the whole of Nevis celebrated in unison. Nevis had retrieved the grand trophy!
Summarized scores in the finals: St. Croix 107 for 8 in 15 overs: S. Evans 21; K. Bola 19 not out; K. Cornelius 16
Dennis Clarke 3 for 22; Derrick Parry 3 for 25; Wendell Wallace 1 for 26
Nevis 110 for 3 in 14.5 overs: Merlin Liburd 44; Ardie Liburd 28*; Carl Tuckett 16.
Nevis won by 7 wickets
Rain had affected the preliminary games played on Friday 18th and totally washed out all of the games scheduled for Saturday 19th.
So, the four top teams, based on the point standings, to get into the semi-finals were: Nevis; St. Croix; Anguilla and St. Maarten.
The top performers as follows-:
• Champion team -: Nevis
• Second placed team -: St. Croix
• Best wicketkeeper -: shared jointly between Joel Simmonds of Nevis and Evans of St. Croix
• Best batsman -: Ardie Liburd
• Best bowler -: Patrick Newton
• MVP of the tournament -: Ardie Liburd
Interestingly, St. Croix won the trophy two years ago in St. Croix; St. Thomas won last year in St. Thomas and now Nevis has won this year, when the tournament was played in Nevis.
It has been confirmed that Antigua and Barbuda will host the 2019 tournament.