Regal over all winners of president’s cup, speed boat joint open winner

…President Ali lambastes spectators and organisers for lackadaisical approach to COVID-19 guidelines

By Timothy Jaikarran

It all unfolded at the Everest Cricket Club as the grand finale of the President’s Cup T20 Softball Tournament came to a bittersweet end.

Regal Masters Captain Richard Latif collects the winning trophy and cheque from Georgetown Softball Cricket League (GSCL) Inc President Ian John

The day witnessed the finals of the Legends and Masters categories during which Regal stormed to comfortable victories, but the Open competition was called off half-way through after spectators broke the COVID-19 protocols.

Regal Legends make light work of Parika
It was 2020 all over again for the Parika Defenders: they had last met the Regal side in the Prime Minister’s Cup and lost miserably. Only this time it was worse, as they were restricted to a meagre 68-8 in their allotted 20 overs. The Defenders choked and it wasn’t a good sight, the in-form Unis Yusuf fell for a golden duck and from there, it was all downhill as they were staring down the barrel with the score on 7-4. The Regal bowlers were tight in their line and length, and gave no bad balls for their opponents to put away. Romeo Malone was the only one to put up a fight with a resistant 27, other than him no other batsman could pass the 12-run mark. This was thanks to the efforts of Parsram Persaud (2-9); David Harper (2-12); Fazleem Mohamed (2-18), and Saurie Singh and Eric Thomas, who bagged one wicket apiece.

Legends Captain Mahendra Hardyal receives the winning trophy and cheque from Trophy Stall owner Ramesh Sunich alongside GSCL Inc President Ian John

Heading into what was deemed an exciting chase, Regal openers Mahesh Chunilal and Eon Abel took the cautious approach and moved the ball around the ground, putting away the bad balls and stealing a few singles here and there. However, Ramesh Narine and Ramesh Rambrose picked up two quick wickets, that of Chunilal (18) and Abel (10) to give their side some sort of pseudo hope. But it was a little too late for that as David Harper contributed a classy 17* and the man of the hour, Eric Thomas blasted 20 off 5 balls which included three towering sixes as Regal ended on 69-2 in 13.1 overs.

The Speedboat and Regal Open teams are joint winners

In the end, Regal Legends pocketed the handsome sum of $500,000, while the Parika Defenders took home $100,000.

The Ejaz, Latif show steals Wellman’s thunder
This encounter had it all; it made one’s heart race with joy and anticipation as it was probably one of the best finals of the day. Batting first, Wellman openers Greg De Franca and Azeemul Haniff stole the show as they put together a somewhat aggressive partnership of 82, that frustrated the Regal bowlers. De Franca was the aggressor as he smoked many balls to every part of the ground, while Haniff provided support. However, Haniff was the first to go on 24 and shortly after, De Franca departed for 64 to take the score to 94-2. Everyone thought that Wellman would be able to carry on to post a challenging total, but Regal pegged things back and managed to restrict them to 146-6 in their 20 overs. Playing his hand in a cameo was Rawl Reid with 24, but the damage had already been done by the Regal bowlers. Bowling were Mohamed Ayume (2-39); Roy Persaud (1-30) and Surajdeo Ramdee (1-34).

His Excellency, Dr Irfaan Ali sternly addresses the crowd and organisers for failing to follow the COVID-19 guidelines

The Regal posse were confident they could chase the total, but Chien Gittens fell for a duck off the bowling of Anil Durga. This had the Wellman players jumping for joy, but little did they know the worst was yet to come as the Latif and Ejaz show came together. It was like watching an artistic masterpiece as Ejaz Mohamed and Richard Latif pulled out all the stops, they spanked the ball out of the ground in many directions to get the show on the road. The frustration was real in the Wellman camp: they fumbled in the field and gave away simple runs. Ejaz ended his innings of 54* with some ease, but not before Latif did the damage with a belligerent 84*; he brought up his fifty with a beautiful maximum and ended the game with a perfect boundary to hand his team the title. Regal Masters ended on 148-1 in 14.2 overs to give their side $500,000, while the Wellman Masters pocketed $100,000.

Trouble in Paradise
After back-to-back victories for Regal Masters and Regal Legends, it seemed as though they were poised to take their third in the Open category. But, there was drama, drama and more drama as the spectators failed to observe the COVID-19 protocols, thus forcing the organisers to call off the finale, which was only two overs into the second innings, as Regal were chasing 117 for victory after Speedboat set a total of 116 runs. The organisers were forced to make this decision after His Excellency, Dr Irfaan Ali, who was scheduled to be a part of the presentation ceremony after the game would have ended, sternly condemned the spectators for their lackadaisical approach to the COVID-19 guidelines.

Richard Latif hits the winning run of the Masters game

In his address to the crowd, President Ali said, “We know how difficult it is during this pandemic, you look around here and I must say I am disappointed with the organisers for allowing you to be exposing each other to this dangerous pandemic. I plead with you to put on your masks and observe the COVID-19 protocols. As your President, I care about you and I love you and I cannot be in an environment like this and see you exposing yourself; I’m not going to allow you to do it.”
The President further stated that if everyone could not take their responsibilities seriously, then they had a serious problem, noting that a country could not be built off of irresponsibility. He declared that it was only when we love each other that we look out for one another, urging the spectators to think about their families and themselves all while correcting the situation and wearing a mask and following the COVID-19 guidelines.

Captain of the Regal Legends and owner of the Regal Teams, Mahendra Hardyal (centre) leads his team off after a compelling win

In the end, both Regal All-Stars and Speedboat shared the prize money, with each team receiving $300,000.

At the end of it all, Anil Beharry was awarded for his two centuries scored in the competition, Nigel Estraeado was awarded for the highest score in the tournament (141*), Diaram Ramnauth for being the bowler with the most wickets in the tournament (14); and Mahendra Hardyal was awarded for being the live wire of the organisers.
In the Legends category: for his 309 runs and four wickets, Ramesh Narine won two tickets to Kaieteur Falls while David Harper was the Man of the Finals with 17* and 2-12.
In the Masters Over-40 category, Ayume Mohammed was the Man of the Series, bagging 12 wickets with bests of 5-17 and 4-24 and 40 runs; for this, he won a 32-inch Premium LED TV, and the Man of the Match for the finals was Richard Latif for his unbeaten 84.
The sponsors of the tournament were Banks DIH via its Banks Beer and Rainforest Water brands, Trophy Stall, Danny Persaud, Elegance Jewellery and Pawn Shop, Star Party Rentals, P&P Insurance, Crown Mining Supplies, Regal Stationery and Computer Centre, Regal Sports, Dinat Trading, Mohamed’s Enterprise, King’s Jewellery World, and Roraima Group of Companies.