Alexandra U-13 champs
For all the fond memories that Kensington Oval might hold, Alexandra’s victory over Nicholls Baking Combermere yesterday will always hold a special place in coach Renaldo Parris’ heart.
Two successive heartbreaks finally gave away to celebration, as Parris watched his Alexandra side reward him with his very first title, as they romped to a comfortable seven-wicket win over Combermere in the final of the Republic Bank Right Start Everton Weekes Under-13 Cricket Competition.
Led by a superb performance from captain Rikeem Headley, who first ripped through Combermere’s middle order, taking five wickets, before stroking an unbeaten 27, Alexandra easily overhauled their opponent’s total of 111 for nine, finishing on 112 for three, with 31 balls to spare.
Together with the dashing Deshawn Toppin, who blazed an unbeaten 49 from just 42 balls, the pair put on an unbroken fourth-wicket partnership of 72 to lead their side to victory.
Having watched his team slump to consecutive defeats in 2011 and 2012 at the hands of Combermere, as well as in the finals of this year’s LIME Under-15 Competition, Parris could not hide his excitement after achieving victory for the first time in the competition’s 18-year history.
“It definitely feels as if I have finally lifted a monkey off of my back,” a beaming Parris told the media.
“Everyone was saying that I have a jinx against Combermere, but strangely enough, the guys wanted to play Combermere in the final from the time the tournament started.
“There was a lot of talk going around that every time we meet Combermere in the final we always choke, and the guys actually wanted to prove the critics wrong,” the coach admitted.
And proved them wrong they did.
The diminutive Headley, a member of all three of those losing teams, saved his best performance of the season for the grand finale, to help deny Combermere a record seventh title.
With Combermere’s captain Zidane Clarke and Indal Persaud, cruising along in a 39-run partnership to help them up to 49-3, Headley struck three times in the space of three overs to turn the match in Alexandra’s favour.
Operating from the Malolm Marshall End the left-arm spinner had Clarke caught behind for 11 one run later, and then without another run added to the score, Jonathan Doughlin gifted him with a simple return catch to leave Combermere tottering on 49-4.
Persaud didn’t last much longer either, as Headley trapped him lbw for the top score of 15.
After Savio Fergusson and Jayden Broome had removed Amari Goodridge and Nicholas Austin respectively, Headley switched to the Joel Garner End, where he dismissed Romi Holder and Krishna Quintyne in his sixth over as Combermere crumbled to 97-9.
He finished with figures of five for 11 in seven overs.
Alexandra got off to the worst possible start, losing opener Nico Blackman to the very first ball of the innings, caught and bowled by Kai Rollins.
And when both Nathaniel Knight and Broome were dismissed, to leave them 39-3 in the 13th over, Alexandra were in urgent need of a partnership.
Toppin and Headley provided just that in a partnership that spanned 42 minutes and 77 balls.
Toppin signalled his intentions from early on, exquisitely driving Justin Bramao through cover for four to get off the mark.
He followed that up with a sweetly timed drive which whistled to the extra cover boundary, before Headley got in on the act, pulling Nicholas Austin behind square for four as the score progressed to 63-3.
They brought up the 50-run partnership off just 51 balls in 30 minutes, as the score whistled to 94-3.
The only disappointment of the day for Alexandra would have been that Toppin finished one run short of a well-deserved half century,