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Close battle


Randy Bennett

Close battle

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From the jubilation of the Combermere camp, you would have sworn they had just won the LIME Under-15 cricket title.
The lads from Waterford did take one step closer towards that goal, however, when they captured a slim first innings lead of three runs over Alexandra at the end of an enthralling first day in the final at the LIME cricket ground, Wildey.
Led by a brilliant bowling performance of six for 22 by their captain Keemar Burrowes, Alexandra dismissed their opponents for 118 after winning the toss and electing to field.
And with first innings points seemingly in their grasp, the boys from the north inexplicably faltered to be all out for 115, off the very last ball of their allotted 35 overs.
It signalled an exciting end to the day’s play, with the Combermere players celebrating by hugging each other, while their fans shouted their support from the sidelines.
Their joy was understandable, with the last two championships having been decided by first innings honours, after heavy showers led to a significant amount of play being lost in the 2011 and 2012 finals.
The defending champions looked to have surrendered that all-important first innings advantage, after a late onslaught from Alexandra’s Deshawn Toppin had carried them within sight of their target.
Needing nine runs from Najee Holder’s last over, Jevon Rock gave them a perfect start, edging a delivery down to the third man boundary for four off the very first ball.
But with Rock getting a leg bye to take the score to 114 for eight, Toppin, who up until that point had played brilliantly, opted to go for two huge swipes instead of working the ball for the easily available singles.
He completely missed Holder’s third and fourth deliveries, before losing his middle stump to the very next ball attempting another wild swing.
It left last man, the diminutive Rikeem Headley, needing to strike a boundary, but his shot only got as far as midwicket, where Shian Brathwaite’s accurate throw resulted in his run out.
Alexandra’s late collapse undid the earlier hard work from their captain Burrowes, who had ripped through Combermere’s middle order.
Had it not been for the efforts of Holder and Shakkae Marshall, things could have been much worse for Combermere after they had slipped to 33 for three in the 14th over.
Alexandra’s opening fast bowling pair of Jaden Edmund and Jherard Morris-Sealy had already gotten rid of Brathwaite who made six, along with Reniel Smith and Thaddeus Chase who both made 12.
But Holder and Marshall would put on 55 runs for the fourth wicket, to help rescue Combermere from danger, and bring some respectability to their final tally.
Marshall was the more defensive of the two, facing 53 balls for his 19, while frustrating his opponents for just under an hour.
Holder, though, was his usual attacking self, needing just 41 balls for his 40, which included a massive six that cleared the fence and rolled across the highway.
By the time Marshall was dismissed, caught at cover by Joshua Bishop to become Burrowes’ first victim, Combermere had reached the relative safety at 88 for four in the 27th over.
Holder didn’t last much longer after Marshall’s departure, lofting Burrowes straight into the hands of Shaquan Cave, who was stationed on the long-on boundary.
Burrowes ripped through the remaining batsmen from there on, accounting for David Scott and Zidane Clarke in successive balls to bring an end to the innings.

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