It’s official. The St. Thomas Masters cricket team is the 2017 champions of the Leeward Islands Masters tournament.
The tournament was hosted for the first time this year in St. Thomas and commenced on Thursday 25th May, with an impressive opening/reception ceremony, during which all of the teams’ reps indicated with confidence that they would be taking the big trophy home.
An intense series of preliminary matches were played on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th May with Antigua and Barbuda winning all three matches; St. Thomas winning their three matches as well; Nevis winning over Anguilla and St.Maarten but losing to Antigua and Barbuda and St.Kitts losing all of their three matches. Defending champs St. Croix won two matches but lost to St. Thomas, while Tortola lost two matches but won over St.Kitts and Anguilla won over St.Maarten who lost all three matches.
So it came down to the semifinal matches on Sunday 28th May, with St. Croix taking on Antigua & Barbuda at Red Hook and Nevis engaging host St. Thomas, at the main ground in town.
St. Croix made 161 in their allotted overs but Antigua & Barbuda overhauled it in a tight finish.
Meanwhile, Nevis after being comfortably placed on 70 for 2; imploded to be all out for 90. Thanks not necessarily to the bowling team but also to some glaring umpiring errors, which were acknowledged by some members of the home team.
Nevis fought tooth and nail to defend the total, led by a superb spell of spin bowling by the experienced Derrick Parry and some superb catching by Tony Grant at slip. However, the home team squeezed home in the tense finish in 17.4 overs, giving them a spot in the finals versus Antigua and Barbuda.
The grand finals was not without drama, even before a ball was bowled, as the home team protested to the use of an Antigua based umpire and the St. Thomas umpire was also relieved of his duties and replaced by Anthony Rawlins and an umpire from St.Maarten.
Antigua & Barbuda batted first and were off to a rapid start, due to some power hitting by a limping Roxy Joseph.
They got to a competitive 97 for 3 in their allotted 15 overs.
St. Thomas, much to the joy of the home crowd, who showed up in their numbers, overhauled the total in just 12 overs.
Earl Waldron who started the innings facing the possibility of a hat trick of ducks, saved the best for last and slammed an attractive 49 not out, to lead his team to victory.
The home team and their fans could not contain themselves as they danced and celebrated in grand style.
Antigua & Barbuda -97 for 3 in 15 overs:
A ROXY Joseph 35*; Dean Williams 26*; Elroy Francis 16
Richard Brazier 2 for 16; Ivan Nicholas 1 for 7
St.Thomas-98 for 2 In 12 overs:
Earl Waldron 49; Neils Lewis 22; Collins Joseph 19
Dean Williams 1 for 14; Vinzroy Smith 1 for 19
St. Thomas won by 8 wickets
During the closing ceremony which was held immediately after the match, the following awards were made, with trophies presented complements of Senator Mervin Blyden
Best wicketkeeper-Ipa POT Spencer-Antigua & Barbuda
Best Fielder-Tony Grant-Nevis
MVP of the final-Earl Waldron
MVP of the tournament-Terrence Webbe-St. Thomas
Best bowler (still to be tabulated)
Best batsman-Terrence Webbe
2nd place—Antigua & Barbuda
1st place-champions-St. Thomas
St. Thomas and Antigua & Barbuda also collected cash prizes
Dane Weston also made a presentation to Livingstone Harris who he said is retiring from cricket and has been a mentor to him. He presented him with a pure crystal plaque which read: ‘Livingstone Harris X-man-MVP of Cricket.’
The celebrations continued for some time after as the St. Thomas cricketers and their fans truly enjoyed the moment.