Blackhawks’ Kadeem Phillip dubs Two Day title ‘hardest one’ to date as Empire’s Athanaze says team’s batting was below par

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All-rounder Kadeem Phillip (left) celebrates with the championship trophy alongside Javier Spencer (right) and Kofi James.
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By Neto Baptiste

Veteran cricketer and former national all-rounder, Kadeem Phillip, has dubbed this year’s two-day title win as ‘probably the hardest’ of the recent three for the Liberta Blackhawks, given the team’s slow start in the competition this year.

Phillip, who played a pivotal role with the ball for the Blackhawks, claiming 31 wickets at an average of 14.26 in 11 innings, said the team struggled to get it right throughout the preliminary round due to a number of factors but always found a way to win in the end.

“To be honest, this one is probably the hardest one that I’ve played in because earlier in the season we got off to a late start in terms of our pre-season training and all these things and most of the senior guys weren’t here so it was a battle. We were second to last after the first three weekends and after we started catching ourselves, we gradually built on what we were doing so it was a grind, it wasn’t straight forward like the last couple of years where the challenge only came in the final or in one or two games. It was a grind for most of the tournament,” he said. 

Blackhawks recorded a comfortable nine-wicket win over rivals Empire Nation when they met in the final of the competition at the Pigotts playing field over the weekend. The title was the Liberta team’s third straight after having won in 2022 and 2023.

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Empire Nation’s Justin Athanaze, finished as the competition’s leading bowler with 72 wickets at an average of 6.64.

Veteran player and Empire Nation all-rounder, Justin Athanaze, said his team loss the match in the early stages of their second innings as they sought to erase a 43 runs first innings lead by the Blackhawks.

“There is no way we could have lost four wickets before lunch because that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to see how much runs we could get before lunch and then go out after ad see what the plan was because we can’t lose our top four batters and then its just me and the other guys left to see what we could get. It happened that we got the runs but lost four wickets and we lost the game right there,” he said.

Athanaze, who finished as the competition’s leading bowler with 72 wickets at an average of 6.64, however gave the opponents credit for showings maturity after being 174 for eight in the first innings to getting past the 200 posted by Empire and claiming first innings points.

“We thought we could have gotten the next two wickets to bowl them out for at least 190 or 180 but the lower-order did a brilliant job for them and that is what pegged us back. We know that as long as we could restrict them from getting a big lead then we knew whatever lead they gave us that we could try to get that out of the way and then try to put a total that we know we could bowl them out under,” the player said.

Led by Player of the Match and Leward Islands all-rounder Kofi James who bagged a total of six wickets while top-scoring with 64 in the first innings, Blackhawks wrapped up the contest just after midday on Sunday.

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