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Wesley Hall’s 9th


Craig Cozier

Wesley Hall’s 9th

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Nine-year-old Rivaldo Clarke gave his proud mother a cricketing birthday gift to remember yesterday at Empire.
He cracked a delightful, unbeaten 64 off 57 balls to inspire Wesley Hall Juniors to the Guardian General National Sports Council’s Herman Griffith Primary Schools Cricket title with a 30-run victory over defending champions Bayley’s Primary.
Watched by mum Allison Nurse, the birthday girl, and dad, Adrian Clarke, the pint-sized right-hander guided Wesley Hall out of choppy waters and to a competitive total of 135 for five off 25 overs.
Young Clarke shared a momentum-shifting sixth-wicket partnership of 57 with Kemar Chase, who contributed an equally important undefeated 26 off 18 deliveries.
Bayley’s chase wavered once tournament MVP Romario Alleyne and fellow opener Latrell Greenidge departed inside the first six overs.
Spinner Corey Hoyte grabbed three for 22 to lead the Wesley Hall bowling and middle order resistance from captain Jonathan Griffith and Tyrone Edwards was ultimately in vain as the St Philip side limped to 105 for eight off 25 overs.
Bayley’s had began brightly after Wesley Hall won the toss and batted on a true pitch in bright sunshine.
Medium pacer Tyrone Edwards struck twice in two balls, dispatching Jai Clarke to a wicket-keeper’s catch and having Corey Hoyte leg before wicket and the City side were struggling at 16-2 in the sixth over.
Wesley Hall sunk to 39 for four soon afterwards when leg-spinner Asa Hutchinson also claimed two in two, first having Hasani Griffith caught in the leg side off a top edge and then bowling Shamar Forde, who missed an ugly pull and was bowled.
But Clarke, who turns ten later this month, rebuilt the innings with a knock rich in intelligence and skill.
As his first cousin, Barbados Twenty20 all-rounder Ashley Nurse, looked on from the perimeter, Clarke picked off the singles comfortably and turned over the strike masterfully.
Clarke, whose classical off side stroke-play suggests a bright future, led a fifth-wicket stand of 39 with Thierry Walcott, who played his part with broad-batted security despite scoring just six.
When Walcott, trying to accelerate, was bowled by Joshua Straughn at 78-5 in the 19th over, the sizeable Bayley’s contingent were still the ones making the most noise.
But Chase joined Clarke and the two changed the face of the match in the next half hour, smacking 53 runs from the final five overs of the innings, including 40 from the last three.
Straughn’s final over cost 18 as Clarke chose the perfect moment to lift the tempo, smacking a leg side six towards the clubhouse followed by an equally disdainful four through the same area.
Chase also used the long handle to good effect, cracking three fours  in the frantic finale.
Bayley’s openers produced a positive start in pursuit before Shamar Forde claimed the prize wicket of Alleyne, thanks to a fine leaping catch at short midwicket by Hasani Griffith, one of the tallest boys on the field.
Clarke could not be kept out of the game, soon claiming a catch behind to send back Greenidge and even though Bayley’s skipper, Jonathan Griffith, batted with assurance, the run rate was always climbing.
Once Clarke’s swift stumping took care of his opposite number, Wesley Hall were on the way and the undisputed Man Of The Match came out from behind the stumps to show off his full all-round talents by bowling the final over.
The title was Wesley Hall’s ninth in 33 years of the competition, following success in 1982, 1983, 1991, 1992, 1994, 2001, 2003 and 2008.

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