KING CITY, ON - JUNE 28: Steven Smith (2ndL) of Toronto Nationals heads out to field with teammates prior to a Global T20 Canada match against Vancouver Knights at Maple Leaf Cricket Club on June 28, 2018 in King City, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Global T20 Canada Gave Us Hope For The Sport In North America

A while ago, I wrote about the Global T20 Canada tournament that was about to start. Well, yesterday it concluded after two and a half weeks of cricket, that while did not always garner the coverage of it’s counterparts from around the world, still gave us excitement, entertainment & hope for cricket’s growth in Canada.

While everyone, including your’s truly, were fully engaged in the FIFA World Cup final about to be played in Moscow, all cricket lovers, at least those who don’t look down our noses at this format of the game, no matter where it may be taking place, had a keen eye on the final.

Thankfully, the organisers scheduled it’s showpiece final at a time that did not clash with the France vs Croatia final.

The final was played between the Vancouver Knights and a West Indies B Team.

Interestingly, Vancouver lost their first match of the tournament, which incidentally opened the tournament on the 28th of June.

They lost to the Toronto Nationals by six wickets. They posted a formidable 227/4, led by Trinidadian Evin Lewis’s brilliant 96, but Toronto, led by New Zealander Anton Devcich, with a sparkling 92*,got to the target with 4 balls to spare, winning by 6 wickets.
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West Indies B defeated the Montreal Tigers by just two runs, overcoming the target set by Montreal of 185. They got there in the end with five balls to spare and just two wickets in hand, with not surprisingly, another Trini, Nocholas Pooran, the catalyst, with 58 off 35 deliveries.

These two matches, set the tone for what turned out to be an exciting tournament.

The tournament, was played at the Maple Leaf Cricket Club in King City, and included a regular round robin format, followed by a play-off system, in keeping with the theme of the other T20 leagues like the IPL, BBL, CPL etc…

Each team played each another once, followed by another match based on their rankings. It is a six team competition, so after the initial stage, the first place played the sixth, second played fifth and third played fourth.

That part of the tournament, was labelled Round 2. At the end of which, we had Playoff 1, whereby the top four teams would advance to the next stage, still following? At this stage, it took on an international feel, as the top two teams, Vancouver and West Indies B played a match, where the winner, would go directly to the final.

The two teams, had met just two days prior, and Vancouver came out on top, with the “Universe Boss” Chris Gayle leading the way with 63, while Sheldon Cottrell took 4 wickets, as they were victorious by 35 runs. A very large win in this format of cricket.

However, on this occasion, the West Indies B got some revenge, winning by 6 wickets, chasing a massive target of 216, led by a superb 134*. by Guyanese Sherfane Rutherford. They won on the last ball of the game, and duly took their place in the final.

Vancouver, for their part as the top team from the league stage, would have another opportunity for glory, as they would play the winner from the Playoff 2 match between Edmonton Royals and Winnipeg Hawks.

Winnipeg completed a seven wicket win, comfortable enough, even if it was with just two ball to spare, led Aussie Ben Mcdermot’s unbeaten 65 and Emrit’s 4 wicket haul.

Vancouver got the better of Winnipeg in Playoff 3, although it was via the much maligned D/L method. Regular cricket lovers are not fans of this method to determine the outcome of a cricket match, and it definitely is not the way to go, to enhance the sport’s reputation in North America, and the authorities, must do something to fix this.
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So in the final, the teams meet for the third time in the space of a week and Vancouver had the final say, as they won rather comfortably in the end by seven wickets. West Indies B were bowled out for just 145, but what was worse, that they still had 14 balls to spare. Cottrell, again, proving his worth with returns of 4/29. Vancouver, led by Pakistani born Canadian player Saad Bin Zafar’s 79, wrapped up the match and the trophy win with two and a half overs to spare.

The best moment of the final, and arguably the tournament was when Gayle took an outstanding catch in the slips to dismiss Kaven Hodge. The Jamaican initially failed to hold on with his left hand, but then angled his body and his right hand to a sort of backwards way, and caught the ball.

The batsman was stunned, Gayle’s teammates were in awe of the great man, and the crowd, decent enough as it was, stood up and applauded.

It was quite fitting that we should see such a moment of genius and creativity in a final!

Bin Zafar, received the Man of the Match award for his efforts, and there were some other notable performances as well.

Lendl Simmons, representing Winnipeg scored 321 runs to top the scoring charts, while Cottrell had 16 scalps to be the leading wicket taker.

The tournament also marked the return of the disgraced Aussie duo of Smith and Warner, who both showed glimpses of their talent and they would both be glad to have some cricket under their belts, as they look forward to their return to top level cricket.
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This Global T20 Canada tournament had many stars from around the world, featured six teams that played hard, competitive and exciting cricket and the fans in Ontario showed up in decent numbers to cheer on their favourites.

It might not have been everyone’s “cup of tea”, but Cricket is back in North America on a global scale and I say, long may the game continue to grow and prosper once again.

For those, who oppose, remember this, it was in North America that the first ever international cricket match was played between the USA and Canada, and we should all be thankful and support the efforts of those involved to re-establish this beautiful sport once again on this continent.

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