A purpose built wicket for the tournament ensured the capacity eight-team schedule was swiftly filled with several established Phuket teams, but more excitingly having a number of newly formed sides participating and acquitting themselves wonderfully, both on and off the pitch.
Matches got underway at 9am following a formal flag raising and anthem ceremony, with the 2022 champions Andaman A easing past Island Boys in Group 1, before Patong Warriors marked their intentions with a comfortable win over Andaman B in the Group 2 opener.
Putting a side together for this tournament, Rupert Scott captained The Diplomats for their inaugural match, playing against the Patong Penguins in Group 1. Although a first win was not to be, Diplomat players impressed with classy all-round performances with bat and ball.
Entertainment was delivered in droves with the introduction of another new team, The Bell Ends, captivating the growing crowd with their energy and enthusiasm in taking on one of the tournament favorites, Kashmir CC in the second Group 2 game. Unfortunately, the Bell End buzz was no match for the laser-focused determination of KCC, who offered no respite to overwhelm the new kids on the block.
As group matches progressed, the main title contenders soon emerged with results generally going to form, while one of the day’s most enthralling games ended in a controversial tie between old rivals, Andaman A and Patong Penguins, when a single run off the last ball would have secured maximum pointsfor Andaman. Whipping past Penguins’ Sunny Bowry, tournament head umpire and technical official Adam Drew deemed a legal delivery, as urgent appeals erupted for a wide ball brought an end to the match, but the beginning of a day-long talking point.
Group games concluded by mid-afternoon, seeing the exit of four teams, but not before the Fair Play trophy was awarded by Bom Witcha Thothammachart, Blue Tree’s sport and entertainment manager, to the Bell Ends for their zeal and positivity throughout the day.
Accepting the award for Bell Ends, the effervescent Emma Webster praised the tournament, while calling for more female participation in Phuket cricket. The Diplomats also endured an early departure, but proudly having all the established sides applauding their involvement and hoping for theirs - and the Bell Ends - introduction to regular cricket competition on the island.
Seeking to retain their title, Andaman A battled Patong Warriors in the first semi-final, and a low-scoring yet exciting encounter ended with the confirmation that Andaman skipper, Rishi Sadaranghani, would relinquish his hold on the trophy, mainly due to the exploits in the field of Warriors’ Ahmed Mughal and Adeel Ali, with the former claiming a hat-trick in the process to cap an outstanding all-round performance.
Fading light encouraged a quick return to action with KCC putting an end to the Island Boys’ adventure, before immediately returning to face Patong Warriors in the tournament grand final.
Concern for players’ safety due to limited light motivated umpire Drew to reduce the number of balls per over before Warriors set a very competitive 73 from their five overs.
A brave effort in reply from Warriors, and especially Shad Wahid, was ultimately not enough, with 11 runs required off the last delivery met with a dot ball and ecstatic celebrations from the Warriors.
Speaking prior to the presentation, Blue Tree’s deputy managing director Paolo Randone and general manager Bo Johan Wallen both praised their team’s efforts in promoting and hosting the event under the guidance of former professional cricket player and Blue Tree sports coach, Ashan Fonseka.
Tournament awards were presented to Mughal for both player of the final and player of the series, with best batter going to KCC’s Iqbal Malik and best bowler to Anddaman’s Anoop, while Penguins were Plate winners.
A very special mention and gratitude must go to Seemant Raju and Adam Drew for their commitment to the day’s proceeding, maintaining scoring, schedule and discipline with utmost composure.
Cricket continues this weekend with the Phuket T20 league final being contested between Patong Warriors and Andaman CC at the Alan Cooke Ground (ACG) in Thalang starting at 1:30 pm.
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