It was a glorious and full weekend of Minor League Cricket as all 39 scheduled matches were played over the holiday with only a couple of matches seeing brief interruptions due to rain. If you couldn’t catch all the action – and who could with six matches running simultaneously much of the weekend – fear not, as MiLC stats guru Tom Nielsen recaps the big finishes and best teams and players of the weekend.
Super Over Finishes
A super weekend of action fittingly had more super over action than the entire 2021 MiLC season. This weekend saw three incredible matches tied after 20 overs apiece, needing a super over to determine the winner.
Seattle Thunderbolts vs Lone Star Athletics
Both Seattle and Lone Star came into Saturday’s match hoping to be on the fringes of the playoff race in their respective divisions. Rain hit the Moosa stadium 15 overs into what was looking like a dominant Seattle innings, with the Thunderbolts sitting at 127/1 on the back of a 76* (49) from Andries Gous. With just one run needed from their final ball in response, Jannisar Khan flicked it to short third man, where Rohan Posanipally took a blinder of a catch to save the match for Seattle, who would go on to take the win in the super over.
The Philadelphians vs Morrisville Raptors
After winning a last ball thriller on Friday night, Morrisville magic struck once again on Saturday night under the lights at Church Street Park. Morrisville were at 95/5 after 16 overs chasing Philly’s 145 total, laving a big 51 runs needed from the Raptors’ final 24 balls. Colin Archibald put a dent in the total by storming off to score 30 (13), leaving 17 runs needed off the final over. Jacobus Pienaar went 4-4-4 to start it off against Juanoy Drysdale, but they could only muster another four runs off the last three to tie it up and force the super over. Colin Archibald scored 12 off the last three balls of the super over as Morrisville put up 14, and then took the ball himself, giving up 3 runs, a wicket and another run before getting Milind Kumar to sky out to Rohan Phadke to end the match and give Morrisville the win.
New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers vs The Philadelphians
Philly were back in the super over the next day (making it two super overs in two matches for Liam Plunkett in his Minor League Cricket debut). The Philadelphians needed just seven runs off the final over chasing New Jersey’s 163 total, a seemingly do-able task after taking 14 and 10 off the previous two overs. But Najaf Shah’s death bowling for the Somerset Cavaliers was outstanding, and all Philly could do was alternate singles to force the super over. Philly was similarly restricted in the super over, able to take just 6 runs after Najaf Shah took Milind Kumar’s wicket with the second ball of the over.
But Philly was able to call upon the extensive experience of Liam Plunkett to bowl out their defense. After giving up a pair of singles, Plunkett took Chandrapaul Hemraj’s wicket on the third ball before allowing another single to Xavier Marshall, making it four needed from the final two deliveries for New Jersey. Richard Allen executed a nifty ramp shot to deep third man, where Juanoy Drysdale picked it up off a few bounces and fired a perfect strike to Mario Rampersaud, who flicked the bails off just in time to get Richard Allen coming back for his second and sealing a thrilling win for The Philadelphians.
TOTAL DRAMA AT CHURCH ST.@philly_cricket WIN!#MiLC2022 pic.twitter.com/HLpzzQSJ6I
— Minor League Cricket (@MiLCricket) July 3, 2022
Undefeated Teams for the Weekend
It’s only week 2 of the season, but with just 14 matches to play for each team, it’s never too early to think about the post-season, with just two teams per division getting a playoff spot. Five teams – including at least one from each division – went undefeated on the holiday weekend to make strong progress towards a playoff bid.
Silicon Valley Strikers
The Silicon Valley Strikers swept through the weekend with wins against the Houston Hurricanes, Chicago Tigers, and Michigan Cricket Stars to rack up a 5-0 record for the season. The defending Minor League Cricket champions have shown incredible intent with the bat in 2022, scoring at a conference-best 146 strike rate, up from 118 last year. Their batting this weekend was highlighted by two unbeaten centuries from Shehan Jayasuriya-115* (65) against Michigan and 112* (60) against the Chicago Tigers.
Seattle started off the weekend with the aforementioned super-over win over the Lone Star Athletics before taking care of relatively easy chases – enabled by excellent bowling performances up and down the bowling attack – against the St. Louis Americans and division rivals SoCal Lashings. Andries Gous starred with the bat with twin half centuries-76* (49) against Lone Star and 71* (49) against St. Louis. Seattle sits squarely in the playoff race at 4-1 after an opening weekend split against East Bay: a couple home series against each of Silicon Valley and Golden State will likely determine their playoff fate later in the season.
It’s a HALF CENTURY for @Gousie08 Beautiful shot straight over the bowler’s head
SEA 100/1 in the 14th over pic.twitter.com/8zi6LEnutM
— Minor League Cricket (@MiLCricket) July 2, 2022
The Dallas Mustangs made a huge statement in week one after taking down both Central Division playoff representatives from 2021. Dallas faced a tough test on the holiday weekend, starting out with the East Bay Blazers on Saturday and 2021 Western Conference finalists the Golden State Grizzlies on Sunday, but they aced the test before taking down the Hollywood Master Blasters with ease on Monday. Dallas are in prime position at 5-0 (with Silicon Valley Strikers, the only undefeated teams in Minor League Cricket) atop the Central Division table, where nobody else seems to want to make a run.
A rain-out and rain-affected loss to a pair of Florida teams that aren’t necessarily expected to challenge for the playoffs made for a difficult start to the season for the Morrisville Raptors. But the return to Church Street Park and Morrisville Magic was just what the doctor ordered as the Raptors went 3-0 on the weekend to keep themselves in the playoff hunt with a pair of Atlanta teams that have had strong starts of their own. The Raptors did a great job putting on a show for the home crowds with a last ball win, a super over win, and a tight 7-run defense on July 4th against the previously unbeaten Manhattan Yorkers.
Home opener. Under the lights. Morrisville needs 1️⃣ to win from 1️⃣ ball. The Church Street Park faithful holding their breath. And Raptors captain @dane_piedt63 holds his nerve to hit a winning 4️⃣! pic.twitter.com/HT5MOxfGXk
— Minor League Cricket (@MiLCricket) July 2, 2022
New Jersey Stallions
The defending Atlantic Conference champions came into the holiday weekend with a 1-1 record, in the middle of a very crowded Eastern Division. The Stallions started off the weekend with a 10-run win against a strong Atlanta Fire team and closed it out on Monday with a dominant 78-run win over the Ft. Lauderdale Lions. The Stallions now sit on top of the East at 3-1, tied with the Manhattan Yorkers.
Divisional Records in Cross-Over Matches
With all cross-over matches between the divisions in each conference taking place this weekend, division bragging rights were at stake. In 2021, most cross-over matches happened over a cricket festival on Labor Day weekend (MiLC loves its holidays, as you can tell), where the Western and Eastern Divisions had the advantage over their Central and Southern rivals, respectively.
2022 is a new year and had a more balanced and diversified slate of cross-over match-ups, a benefit of having 21 teams in Texas instead of in smaller pods. The competition was tight within each conference: In the Pacific, the Western Division took 12 matches to the Central’s eight, getting a win from all seven teams in a strong top-to-bottom performance. Over in the Atlantic, the Southern Division flipped the script on a tightly packed East with an eight to six advantage from the 14 cross-over matches.
Most Impactful Players of the Weekend
Here is a rundown of the top performances of the weekend by batting, bowling and overall impact: a measure of a player’s value in terms of runs compared to the average player.
Shehan Jayasuriya, Silicon Valley Strikers: +98 runs from 3 matches; 255 runs at 180 strike rate with 2 centuries
Jahmar Hamilton, Atlanta Fire: +76 runs from 3 matches; 141 runs at 181 strike rate highlighted by 74* (45) vs DC Hawks, 20 boundaries from just 78 balls
Nauman Anwar, Michigan Cricket Stars: +59 runs from 4 matches; 237 runs at 142 strike rate including the first century of MiLC 2022-116* (63) vs Lone Star Athletics
Nauman Anwar celebrates as he becomes the first centurion of MiLC 2022! He gets to the milestone from just 57 deliveries! pic.twitter.com/I9YUhi1kl2
— Minor League Cricket (@MiLCricket) July 1, 2022
Shamar Springer, Atlanta Lightning: +57 runs from 3 matches; 143 runs at 223 (!) strike rate, including 2 half centuries
Shayan Jahangir, Lone Star Athletics: +50 runs from 4 matches; 214 runs at 144 strike rate, 45+ runs in each of his 4 matches
Pranto Ahmed, DC Hawks: -50 runs from 3 matches; 5 wickets from 12 overs at 4.33 economy, highlighted by 11/2 from 4 overs vs Ft. Lauderdale Lions
Sarbjeet Singh Ladda, DC Hawks: -45 runs from 3 matches; 6 wickets from 12 overs at 4.67 economy, 4-wicket haul vs Atlanta Fire
Nosthush Kenjige, Dallas Mustangs: -44 runs from 3 matches; 6 wickets from 9.3 overs at 5.05 economy, 14/3 from 3.3 overs vs Hollywood Master Blasters
Sid Matani, Atlanta Lightning: -42 runs from 3 matches; 7 wickets from 10 overs at 4.00 economy, best bowling figures of the weekend with 6/4 from 4.0 overs vs The Philadelphians
Top All-Round Performances
Matthew Tromp, Houston Hurricanes: +86 runs total impact from 4 matches; 88 runs at 138 strike rate with the bat; 6 wickets from 14 overs at 5.86 with the ball
The youngster is putting up numbers!
Matthew Tromp with another 6️⃣ for @theHhurricanes!
144/7 after 18! pic.twitter.com/tfosjuKNWg
— Minor League Cricket (@MiLCricket) July 2, 2022
Ariful Haque, Empire State Titans: +49 runs from 2 matches; 76 runs at 169 strike rate with the bat; 3 wickets from 8 overs at 4.75 with the ball
Hussain Talat, Dallas Mustangs: +48 runs from 3 matches; 78 runs at 170 strike rate with the bat; 4 wickets from 7 overs at 6.43 with the ball
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend of cricket: personally, these long holidays with Minor League Cricket will become my favorite holidays of the year and I’m already going through withdrawals. Thankfully, it’s only a few more days before we do it all over again, as 17 matches are on the docket for round 3 of MiLC action this weekend!