The final installment of a four-part series (also including youth, domestic and playoffs Best XIs), majorleaguecricket.com has selected the tournament’s overall best XI from the 2021 Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship presented by Sling TV.
1. Unmukt Chand (Silicon Valley Strikers) (C)
M: 16 | Runs: 612 | Ave: 51.00 | SR: 125.15 | HS: 132no | 100s: 1 | 50s: 5
The skipper of the Silicon Valley Strikers took the tournament by storm after joining prior to Round 3. He provided one of the highlights of the tournament with his unbeaten 132 off only 59 balls in an elimination match against the Austin Athletics. It was also Chand’s consistency, passing 50 six times in only 16 innings, that saw him finish the tournament as the leading run scorer in the Pacific Conference. His captaincy of the Strikers, who won the championship, means that he leads this side.
2. Ryan Scott (Michigan Cricket Stars)
M: 14 | Runs: 446 | Ave: 34.31 | SR: 181.30 | HS: 118 | 100s: 2 | 50s: 1
After featuring in the MiLC Domestic team of the tournament, Ryan Scott was simply too destructive at the top order to leave out of this side. It was a brilliant 118 off only 48 deliveries against a Houston Hurricanes attack featuring Ali Khan, Karthik Gattepalli and Willem Ludick that caught the attention of most, smacking 13 sixes along the way. He finished the season with an incredible 38 sixes to lead the Pacific Conference.
3. Trevon Griffith (Empire State Titans)
M: 18 | Runs: 566 | Ave: 37.73 | SR: 148.56 | HS: 87 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 5
Wkts: 14 | Ave: 15.43 | Econ: 5.84 | BBI: 4/9
The experienced Guyanese opening batsman was one of the key contributors to the Empire State Titans reaching the National Finals in Morrisville. Almost every team in the Eastern Division felt the force of Griffith, as he passed 50 five times and collected four player of the match awards over the course of the season. He also contributed with the ball, taking 14 wickets with his off-spin at a miserly economy rate of 5.84 runs per over.
4. Xavier Marshall (New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers)
M: 15 | Runs: 542 | Ave: 41.69 | SR: 147.28 | HS: 105 | 100s: 1 | 50s: 4
Another member of our MiLC Domestic team of the tournament, the evergreen batsman often played a lone hand for the New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers during the 2021 MiLC season. The highlight of Marshall’s season came against the New England Eagles in Round 6, smashing an incredible 105 off only 50 deliveries. Marshall finished with the most sixes across both conferences, clearing the rope a remarkable 47 times throughout his campaign.
5. Sujith Gowda (East Bay Blazers)
M: 14 | Runs: 481 | Ave: 37.00 | SR: 147.55 | HS: 93 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 4
Gowda is batting lower in this team than his preferred No. 3 position, but the classical right-hander had to be squeezed into this side after an impressive campaign for the East Bay Blazers. Leading the runs in the Pacific Conference through the end of the regular season, Gowda collected three player of the match awards including two against the San Diego Surf Riders, who will be hoping he is in a different division in 2022.
6. Christopher Barnwell (Empire State Titans)
M: 16 | Runs: 559 | Ave: 50.82 | SR: 151.49 | HS: 114 | 100s: 1 | 50s: 2
Wkts: 15 | Ave: 19.27 | Econ: 6.62 | BBI: 3/8
Barnwell was dominant this season, with the former West-Indian all-rounder leading the Empire State Titans to the Atlantic Conference Championship Match. He hit his straps through the middle of the season, putting the Manhattan Yorkers to the sword with innings of 114 not out and 76 not out, collecting two consecutive player of the match awards for his efforts. He also made significant contributions with the ball in hand, taking three-wicket hauls on three occasions. Barnwell finished the season with 45 maximums, just two behind Xavier Marshall at the top of the leaderboard.
7. Hammad Azam (Golden State Grizzlies)
M: 17 | Runs: 411 | Ave: 51.38 | SR: 184.30 | HS: 69 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 3
Wkts: 12 | Ave: 25.25 | Econ: 5.83 | BBI: 3/9
With a strike rate of over 180 combined with an extraordinary average of over 50 for the season, it was no wonder that Hammad Azam was ranked at the top of the MiLC Impact Rankings compiled by Tom Nielsen. Azam was nothing short of destructive with the bat through the course of the 2021 season, with the highlight being his 15-ball half century against the Chicago Blasters in Round 6 of the season. He was also a big contributor with the ball for the Golden State Grizzlies, picking up 12 scalps with his medium pace.
8. Shadley van Schalkwyk (Seattle Thunderbolts)
M: 17 | Runs: 259 | Ave: 28.78 | SR: 104.86 | HS: 79* | 100s: 0 | 50s: 1
Wkts: 20 | Ave: 12.55 | Econ: 4.83 | BBI: 2/2
Van Schalkwyk was virtually unplayable with the ball in hand this season, finishing the season as the second highest ranked bowler on MiLC’s Player Impact Rankings. This is largely due to his economy rate of 4.83, which is made even more remarkable by virtue of the fact that he was often tasked with bowling in the Powerplay and at the death for the Seattle Thunderbolts. Van Schalkwyk also made some hay with the bat for the Thunderbolts, the highlight being a match-winning 79 not out against the Silicon Valley Strikers in their Round 7 clash to finish the Thunderbolts’ inaugural season on a high.
9. Corne Dry (Atlanta Fire)
M: 16 | Wkts: 30 | Ave: 14.07 | Econ: 7.03 | BBI: 4/10 | SR: 12.0 | 4WI: 2
The captain of the Atlanta Fire led from the front with the ball during the 2021 MiLC campaign, winning MVP in the Southern Division and finishing the tournament as the second-highest wicket taker overall. He started the season with four-wicket hauls in two of his first three matches, including 4/10 against the Morrisville Cardinals in front of a big crowd at Church Street Park in Round 2 to win player of the match honors. He was a consistent wicket-taking option for the Fire throughout the season, failing to take a wicket in only three of his 16 matches.
10. Damion Jacobs (Empire State Titans)
M: 15 | Wkts: 32 | Ave: 12.34 | Econ: 6.39 | BBI: 5/16 | SR: 11.6 | 4WI: 1
One of the four players to feature in both the Domestic XI & Team of the Tournament, Jacobs was unstoppable for the Empire State Titans during the 2021 season, leading the tournament in wickets and striking less than every two overs. His leg-spin was a key factor in the Empire State Titans ride to the playoffs, taking three wickets or more on four occasions in his team’s run of seven consecutive wins through the middle of the season. The highlight was Jacobs’ five-wicket haul against the Manhattan Yorkers at Church Street Park in Round 6, where he ripped through the middle order on his way to 5/16 off 3 overs.
11. Vatsal Vaghela (Golden State Grizzlies)
M: 17 | Wkts: 29 | Ave: 11.41 | Econ: 5.49 | BBI: 4/13 | SR: 12.5 | 4WI: 1
The only player to feature in all three of the teams selected by majorleaguecricket.com, Vatsal Vaghela was one of the key ingredients that led the Golden State Grizzlies to the National Finals in Morrisville. The young left-arm spinner from the Bay Area was unstoppable in the early stages of the season, collecting 16 wickets in his first six games, including a player of the match performance of 4/13 in the season opener against the Seattle Thunderbolts. Nobody had more wickets in the Pacific Conference during the 2021 season, with Vaghela putting his name firmly up in lights for higher honors.
12th Man: Willem Ludick (Houston Hurricanes)
M: 14 | Runs: 471 | Ave: 47.10 | SR: 143.60 | HS: 60 | 100s: 0 | 50s: 5
Ludick’s exploits with the bat were a huge factor in the Hurricanes progressing through to the Semi-finals in the Pacific Conference this season, passing 50 on five occasions throughout the season. The powerful right-hander finished the season as the fifth highest run-scorer in the Pacific Conference, as well as the fifth ranked batsman in MiLC’s player impact rankings, with the highlight being his unbeaten 51 off just 32 balls against the Hollywood Master Blasters in Round 6.