We are already just about at the halfway point of the 2022 Minor League Cricket season! Most teams have played between five and seven of their scheduled 14 matches: time really does fly when you’re having fun. This weekend will see most of the league in action (including the entire Pacific Conference). Tom Nielsen walks through an update to our Power Rankings, checks on the current status of each division, and previews the biggest matches of the weekend to come.
Starting with the Atlantic Conference, the Manhattan Yorkers retained the top spot in the power rankings with another win last weekend over the New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers. Close behind are fellow one-loss teams: division rivals New Jersey Stallions, as well as the Atlanta Fire and Lightning from the South. The Philadelphians recovered after a difficult July 4th weekend in Morrisville.
The Yorkers and Stallions remain the teams to beat in the East, well ahead of the pack on a points-per-game basis and carrying the only positive net run rates in the division. DC Hawks have a lot of cricket left to play and can still challenge the leaders, and The Philadelphians round out the current division contenders, only a game back in the standings but nursing a big net run rate deficit.
Eastern Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, July 16, 11 AM ET: New Jersey Stallions v Manhattan Yorkers, Mercer County Park
- Saturday, July 16, 2 PM ET: New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers v The Philadelphians, Howe Athletic Complex
- Saturday, July 16, 2 PM ET: DC Hawks v Empire State Titans, Veterans Memorial Park
- Sunday, July 17, 11 AM ET: DC Hawks v Empire State Titans, Veterans Memorial Park
- Sunday, July 17, 2 PM ET: New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers v Manhattan Yorkers, Howe Athletic Complex
The East starts off the weekend with a top of the table clash as the New Jersey Stallions take on the Manhattan Yorkers. There’s about a 10% swing in playoff qualification probability at stake: generally teams can afford losses to other good teams, but the winner will be in excellent playoff shape. Lower down the table, the DC Hawks have a home series against Empire State. A sweep for the Hawks will see them a couple games above .500 and squarely in the playoff race; these matches will be a coin flip. The Philadelphians will need to take care of business versus last place New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers.
It’s a three-team race in the south for two playoff spots between the two Atlanta squads and Morrisville, none of whom have played each other thus far in 2022. Orlando and Fort Lauderdale split a two-match series last weekend and with poor net run rates, they will need to go on a major run to challenge for a top two spot.
Southern Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, July 16, 10 AM ET: Ft. Lauderdale Lions v Atlanta Lightning, Broward County Stadium
- Saturday, July 16, 2:30 PM ET: Orlando Galaxy v Atlanta Lightning, Broward County Stadium
- Sunday, July 17, 10 AM ET: Ft. Lauderdale Lions v Orlando Galaxy, Broward County Stadium
- Sunday, July 17, 2:30 PM ET: Ft. Lauderdale Lions v Atlanta Lightning, Broward County Stadium
A busy weekend at Broward County stadium in Florida as the Atlanta Lightning and Ft. Lauderdale Lions each play the Orlando Galaxy alongside their own two-match series. The Lightning are 60-65% favorites in each match and would be aiming for at least two of three – if not a sweep – from the series. For a team like the Lightning, each match on the playoff bubble is vital.
Last weekend was a statement weekend for the Chicago Tigers in the Central, sweeping three matches to go to 5-2 in the division, including taking the Dallas Mustangs down a peg and handing them their first loss on the season in a 23-run win. Still, a slim 9-run victory on Friday night against the winless Chicago Blasters keeps the model from completely falling in love with the new Chicago franchise (though the same cannot be said for this Chicago-area author!). The Silicon Valley Strikers squeaked by the East Bay Blazers in a thrilling final over match and are the final unbeaten team in Minor League Cricket, deservedly holding onto the top spot in the power rankings by a fair margin.
Despite stumbling against the Tigers, Dallas are still in a very comfortable playoff position, well ahead on both points and net run rate with six wins on the books already. Model favorites Michigan Cricket Stars are close behind, but the Tigers are well in the hunt at 5-2. Lone Star Athletics are an interesting side with just one win from five in a grueling schedule that’s seen them play four of the top six in the Pacific. The model has them still with a chance at the playoffs given a relatively tame remaining schedule.
Central Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, July 16th, 10 AM CT: Chicago Tigers v St. Louis Americans, ACAC Park
- Saturday, July 16th, 2 PM CT: Houston Hurricanes v Dallas Mustangs, Prairie View Cricket Complex
- Saturday, July 16th, 2:30 PM CT: Chicago Blasters v Michigan Cricket Stars, ACAC Park
- Sunday, July 17th, 10 AM CT: Chicago Tigers v Michigan Cricket Stars, ACAC Park
- Sunday, July 17th, 2 PM CT: Houston Hurricanes v Lone Star Athletics, Prairie View Cricket Complex
- Sunday, July 17th, 2:30 PM CT: Chicago Blasters v St. Louis Americans, ACAC Park
All seven Central Division teams are in action this weekend. In St. Louis, the Tigers and Blasters take on the St. Louis Americans and Michigan Cricket Stars. The big game here will be the Tigers versus Cricket Stars on Sunday, a fierce battle for third place: A Michigan win sees them at 75% to make the playoffs and the Tigers drop to 12%; a win for Chicago would put both at about 40% to make the playoffs. St. Louis will need to sweep to stay alive, while the Blasters – the final winless team in the league – look to break their losing streak. In Texas, the struggling Houston Hurricanes welcome their Texas area rivals to Prairie View.
Silicon Valley maintains their strangle-hold on first place in the West and look nearly uncatchable at this point. Seattle benefits from both East Bay and Golden State dropping points last weekend, making this a really tasty race for the second playoff spot behind the Strikers.
Western Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, July 16, 10 AM PT: Hollywood Master Blasters v SoCal Lashings, Woodley Park
- Saturday, July 16, 2 PM PT: San Diego Surf Riders v East Bay Blazers, Canyonside Park
- Saturday, July 16, 2:30 PM PT: Hollywood Master Blasters v Seattle Thunderbolts, Woodley Park
- Sunday, July 17, 10 AM PT: SoCal Lashings v Seattle Thunderbolts, Woodley Park
- Sunday, July 17, 11 AM PT: San Diego Surf Riders v East Bay Blazers, Canyonside Park
- Sunday, July 17, 2 PM PT: Golden State Grizzlies v Silicon Valley Strikers, Morgan Hill
- Sunday, July 17, 2:30 PM PT: Hollywood Master Blasters v Seattle Thunderbolts, Woodley Park
At Woodley Park, the Hollywood Master Blasters and Seattle Thunderbolts take on the SoCal Lashings in addition to their own two-game set. Seattle are about 70/30 favorites in all matches, and have about a 20% swing in playoff probability at stake. Much like the Lightning in the South, they’ll need to win at least two of three to stay in the race and a sweep to really break away from the pack. The East Bay Blazers travel to San Diego for similar must-win matches, while the Golden State Grizzlies and Silicon Valley Strikers meet in a massive Northern California matchup. A win for the Grizzlies boosts them to 45% to make the playoffs, and a loss drops them all the way to just 23%.
Enjoy all the matches live streamed, free, on the MLC YouTube Network!