By Neto Baptiste
PIC Liberta Blackhawks, on Sunday night, were crowned champions of the first 10 Splash Cricket Tournament hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) after they completed their clean sweep of the final round of matches with a 34-run victory over New Winthorpes Lions at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
Contesting the feature match of a double-header and the tournament decider, Blackhawks won the toss and opted to bat, amassing a challenging 111 for two in their allotment of 10 overs.
Captain Kofi James did the damage with the bat as he slammed four sixes and three fours on his way to 54 off 30 deliveries. He had help from Karima Gore who chipped in with 20 runs from 17 balls.
Lions could only reach 77 in their 10 overs, losing six wickets in the process. Their best effort came from Marcus Francis who was not out on 24. Nino Henry added 15 to the effort. James and Uri Smith were the pick of the bowlers for Blackhawks, each claiming two wickets in their two overs.
James, who won both the tournament’s batting and bowling awards after scoring 205 runs and grabbing 10 wickets, praised his players for their all-round efforts throughout competition.
“Well, we went out and we played to win in all circumstances and as long as we win we know we had the tournament wrapped up so we weren’t really studying about the other games, we were just focusing on getting the win. At the start of the tournament I said that 110 was our target and we got to 110 on three occasions, so I would definitely give the batsmen in my team and the team in all, a big round of applause for reaching our benchmark. As long as we can score 100 three times out of six or seven games then just know you are in a good position to win the tournament,” he said.
The victory moves Blackhawks to 12 points and to the top of the standings as the only undefeated team in the final and decisive round. The loss was Lions’ second as they ended on four points.
Meanwhile, in Sunday’s opening match, CUB Bethesda Golden Eagles easily dispatched Rising Sun Spartans to win by nine wickets.
Winning the toss and deciding to bat, Spartans posted 52 for three in their 10 overs. Their best effort came from Delon Wills who made 14.
Eagles then soared to victory, reaching 56 for one in just 4.2 overs. Essan Warner top scored with 25 while Deran Benta added 15 to the chase.
The result means that Eagles ends the tournament in the second slot with Lions third and Spartans fourth.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA), Leon Rodney, said the success of the tournament was as a result of a total effort from all involved.
“I just want to take the opportunity to thank you guys for the work you would have done to assist us in pushing the tournament. To all the teams, the umpires and to everybody, more so the ground staff at the stadium. They worked very hard and diligently to make sure we bring off this tournament,” he said.
“I think the teams were exceptional, the first round of matches obviously you could see that they were maybe a little rusty but everything progressed. I also want to thank especially Sir Viv for the prize for the batsman with the most runs and that bat he gave and if I was that person I would not be using that bat at all,” the cricket boss added.
The cricket association will now turn their attention to the hosting of their Super 40 competition reportedly slated to bowl off in January.