A swashbuckling innings from Eric Thomas backed up by tight bowling saw Regal Legends defeating Toronto Blizzards by 79 runs in the final of the Over-50s category of the 2022 edition of the Florida Cup in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday. The other Regal team in the three-day tournament, Regal Masters defeated SVC Corriverton by 67 to take the Over-40 title in sunny conditions, also at the Brian Piccolo Park.
Regal Legends won the toss and were off to a bad start. At the halfway stage of their innings, they were 57 for 4 with Captain Mahendra Hardyal (04), Ramesh Narine (00), Unis Yusuf (10) and David Harper (17) all back in the hut, compliments of Rabindra Parasnauth with magical figures of 4-0-9-3.
After the resumption following the 10-over water break, Regal Legends soon lost Mohendra Arjune for 22 (4×3) in the 12th over at 65 for 5 and were in danger of being bowled out. At that stage, the Canadians were well ahead, but then the power hitters from Guyana walked to the crease.
Eion Abel was the first to take a liking to the bowling, hitting 28 (4×1, 6×3) from 11 balls to accelerate the scoring rate. But it was Thomas who knocked the wind out of the sails of the Blizzards. The powerful left-handed batsman hit six sixes in the 16th over bowled by Desmond Chumney in a display of power hitting never seen before. In all, “Tamo” hit nine sixes and one four from 14 balls for the top score of 62 to hand the advantage back to Regal Legends. Thomas was then bowled in the 17th over at 158-7 which was par for the championship match. However, Regal Legends were not done. Rudolph Baker smashed a 14-ball cameo of 33 (4×1, 6×4) to finish the innings on a high at 196 for 9.
Bowling for the Blizzards, Shazam Baksh was expensive, but picked up 4-48 to support Parasnauth on a green top.
In reply, the Blizzards openers put on 53 runs for the first wicket in 6.5 overs before things started to fall apart. Laurie Singh got the breakthrough when Sunil Dhaniram was sent back for 32 (4×4, 6×2) from 19 balls followed by the brilliant runout of Shivnauth Seeram for 19 at 53 for 2. It was the point of no return for the Canadians and they were eventually bowled out for 117 in 17.4 overs.
Singh finished with 2-24 while Ramesh Narine was the pick of the bowlers with 4-17 with support from Captain Hardyal with 2-22. Regal Legends played unbeaten in the tournament to lift another overseas title. Narine was named best bowler, best batsman and Most Valuable Player of the tournament while Thomas was the Player of the Match in the final.
In the Over-40s final, on the back of half-centuries from Chien Gittens and Lennox Mark, Regal Masters beat SVC Corriverton by 67 runs to complete the Regal double. Gittens carried his bat to finish on 76 not out (4×8, 6×1), but it was a pugnacious knock from Lennox “Assassin” Mark that took the match away from SVC Corriverton. Mark hit eight towering sixes and a solitary four to finish on 63 from 17 balls.
SVC Corriverton picked up wickets at regular intervals – with Samuel Kingston (17); Mohamed Ayume (16) and Khemchandra Dindyal (0) departing in short order – to keep the scoring in check until the 98-run fifth-wicket partnership between Gittens and Mark. Sydney Jackman Jr (1-16) and Feroze Karimullah (1-42) were the successful bowlers for SVC Corriverton, who were then limited to 121 for 6 from their 20 overs. Karimullah returned to hit the top score of 37, but no other batsman passed 17 to threaten the target. Tyrone Sanasie wrecked the SVC innings with 3-20 while Gittens had 1-14.
Gittens later collected three individual prizes: Player of the Match, Most Valuable Player of the Tournament and most runs in the tournament. Bowler of the Tournament was Kayume Mohammed of South Florida Masters.
In the Open category, Kingsmen All-Stars, led by former Guyana and West Indies youth player Zamal Khan, defeated South Florida All Stars by eight wickets in the final match of the day which was watched by about 1200 spectators.
At the presentation ceremony, John Ramsingh speaking on behalf of Regal champion teams and the Georgetown Softball Cricket League Inc (GSCL), said their sides played the tournament in honour of Lakeram “Mike” Singh of Mike’s Wellman. Ramsingh said the teams dedicated the victories to the late great “Mike”, who died in the line of cricketing duty, doing what he loved.
This year’s Florida Cup was the 16th edition of the tournament, which was organised by the South Florida Softball Cricket League (SFSCL) led by President Dave Singh and assisted by former President Anoop Basdeo. The three-day tournament started last Thursday with 22 teams in the three categories.