The final weekend of the regular season for Minor League Cricket 2022 is upon us! This weekend has effectively become a play-in to the play-offs, with three of the four divisions seeing playoffs spots very much still up for grabs, including a bonkers weekend set for the spiritual home of cricket in the USA, Church Street Park in Morrisville. Nearly every match this weekend involves a playoff team or has playoff implications-tons of action coming up.
Tom Nielsen walks through each division, looking at the current standings for teams still in the playoff hunt, checking out the weekend schedule, and then a team-by-team look at the playoff scenarios in play. As a reminder when viewing the standings and schedules-the top two of each division advance to the playoffs, with each team playing 14 matches by the end of the year and getting two points for a win or 1 point for a no result. Ties on points will be broken by Net Run Rate (NRR).
A statement weekend from the Morrisville Raptors – with wins over both Atlanta sides – sees them jump to fifth in the Atlantic Conference power rankings after languishing as low as tenth early in the year. The top four, and the teams currently sitting in the conference’s four playoff spots, remains the same.
Eastern Division Standings (Teams mathematically in playoff contention):
- New Jersey Stallions: 12 matches, 20 points, +0.80 NRR
- Manhattan Yorkers: 12 matches, 16 points, +1.37 NRR
- The Philadelphians: 12 matches, 12 points, -0.52 NRR
Eastern Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, August 13th, 2 PM ET: New Jersey Stallions v The Philadelphians, Howe Athletic Complex
- Saturday, August 13th, 2 PM ET: DC Hawks v Manhattan Yorkers, Hyattsville Cricket Ground
- Sunday, August 14th, 11 AM ET: DC Hawks v Manhattan Yorkers, Hyattsville Cricket Ground
- Sunday, August 14th, 2 PM ET: The Philadelphians v Empire State Titans, Exton Park
- Sunday, August 14th, 2 PM ET: New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers v New Jersey Stallions, Howe Athletic Complex
Eastern Division Playoff Scenarios by Team:
The East is more or less wrapped up but sweeps and unusual results could mix up the playoff picture a smidge.
New Jersey Stallions: A win or no result against either The Philadelphians or New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers clinches first place, as would any dropped points by Manhattan against DC Hawks. This strong advantage in the standings gives New Jersey a 96% chance to finish first, and they’ve already mathematically clinched a playoff spot.
Manhattan Yorkers: A sweep of the DC Hawks and two losses for the New Jersey Stallions would hand the division to the Manhattan Yorkers on NRR, making up the remaining four percent chance for first place. The Yorkers are otherwise virtually assured of second place in the division.
The Philadelphians: Still mathematically in the hunt for the playoffs, The Philadelphians would have to take down both the New Jersey Stallions and Empire State Titans while the Manhattan Yorkers get swept by the DC Hawks to tie Manhattan on points. Unfortunately, a nearly two run NRR deficit to the Yorkers will be realistically impossible to overcome for Philly.
Southern Division Standings (Teams mathematically in playoff contention):
- Atlanta Lightning: 12 matches, 16 points, +1.33 NRR
- Atlanta Fire: 11 matches, 15 points, +1.54 NRR
- Morrisville Cardinals: 10 matches, 15 points, +0.94 NRR
Southern Division Weekend Matches:
- Friday, August 12th, 2 PM ET: Morrisville Raptors v Ft. Lauderdale Lions, Church St. Park
- Friday, August 12th, 6 PM ET: Morrisville Raptors v Atlanta Fire, Church St. Park
- Saturday, August 13th, 1 PM ET: Ft. Lauderdale Lions v Atlanta Fire, Church St. Park
- Saturday, August 13th, 5:30 PM ET: Morrisville Raptors v Atlanta Lightning, Church St. Park
- Sunday, August 14th, 10 AM ET: Ft. Lauderdale Lions v Atlanta Fire, Church St. Park
- Sunday, August 14th, 2:30 PM ET: Morrisville Raptors v Atlanta Lightning, Church St. Park
Southern Division Playoff Scenarios by Team:
The South has easily the most complex and interesting set of permutations for the final week. All six matches at Church St. Park could have playoff implications throughout the final weekend, and all three playoff contenders control their own destiny: each can win out and qualify for the playoffs. To simplify, I’ll focus on playoff qualification here (stay tuned to Twitter (@MilCricket & @Cricket_Sims) throughout the weekend to get updates on first vs second place scenarios as the picture clears up).
Atlanta Fire: The Fire are in the driver’s seat, with two matches against lowly Ft. Lauderdale, while the Lightning and Raptors beat each other up twice. If the Fire beat Morrisville on Friday night and win at least one vs Ft. Lauderdale, they will qualify for the playoffs. If the Fire lose to Morrisville and sweep Ft. Lauderdale, they’re almost assured a spot in the playoffs: worst case is a NRR battle against Morrisville that they’d be well positioned to win barring an unusually large Friday night loss.
Morrisville Raptors: The most likely path to the playoffs for Morrisville is any win on Friday paired with a win against the Lightning on Saturday or Sunday, which would guarantee the Raptors a playoff spot (two wins on Friday will likely still require a win vs the Lightning). If the Raptors get swept on Friday, they will need to sweep the Lightning the rest of the weekend to make it into the playoffs.
Atlanta Lightning: The Lightning have just the two matches against Morrisville this weekend, a challenging task in the face of well-known Morrisville Magic. They will know what they need to do after Friday: if Morrisville win a match that day, the Lightning need to win both matches; if Morrisville lose both, then the Lightning only need to split. A split would also be sufficient if the Atlanta Fire lose two matches on the weekend, regardless of Morrisville’s performance on Friday.
Phew! All in all, the model gives the Fire a very good chance of making the playoffs, with the Raptors just ahead of the Lightning behind them.
Not much change in the power rankings this week in the Pacific Conference, with Seattle and Michigan swapping places after Michigan split with the Houston Hurricanes, while Seattle swept San Diego out west. No matter the outcomes this weekend, the Pacific Conference will see three new playoff teams, with only defending champions Silicon Valley returning to the post-season.
Central Division Standings (Teams mathematically in playoff contention):
- Dallas Mustangs: 12 matches, 22 points, +1.42 NRR
- Chicago Tigers: 13 matches, 15 points, +0.18 NRR
- Michigan Cricket Stars: 12 matches, 13 points, +0.74 NRR
- St. Louis Americans: 12 matches, 11 points, -0.17 NRR
Central Division Weekend Matches:
- Friday, August 12th, 7 PM CT: Chicago Tigers v Chicago Blasters, Hanover Park
- Saturday, August 13th, 2 PM CT: St. Louis Americans v Lone Star Athletics, ACAC Park
- Saturday, August 13th, 2 PM CT: Dallas Mustangs v Michigan Cricket Stars, Moosa Stadium
- Sunday, August 14th, 11 AM CT: St. Louis Americans v Lone Star Athletics, ACAC Park
- Sunday, August 14th, 11 AM CT: Dallas Mustangs v Michigan Cricket Stars, Moosa Stadium
Central Division Playoff Scenarios by Team:
Dallas Mustangs: Dallas has mathematically clinched first place but can still mess with Michigan’s season. Dallas has made a stellar late season add with Willem Ludick, who was a top five batter in all Minor League Cricket in 2021, adding +10 runs of batting impact to the Houston Hurricanes.
Chicago Tigers/Michigan Cricket Stars: Chicago gets a Friday night match-up against cross-town rivals Chicago Blasters, who are winless on the season. A should-win on paper, but the Tigers only just fended off the Blasters by nine runs earlier in the season. If the Tigers win, Michigan must sweep Dallas to pull even on points and would almost certainly advance on NRR. If the Tigers lose, Michigan should advance on NRR with a split against Dallas, though NRR issues could bring in a fourth team, bringing us to the. . .
St. Louis Americans: If Chicago loses and Michigan loses one or both matches against Dallas, the St. Louis Americans can pull even on points with both sides. A big NRR deficit means that if Michigan gets a win, St. Louis is likely out. But if Michigan gets swept, they can easily make up the NRR deficit with Chicago and sneak into the playoffs in what would be likely the most shocking playoff qualification in the short history of Minor League Cricket.
Chicago has the edge, with the model giving them about a 2-in-3 chance of qualifying for the playoffs. St. Louis is down at two percent to qualify, but a Chicago Tigers loss on Friday night would set up must-watch split-screen viewing of the other Central matches on Saturday and maybe Sunday. The winner of the race for second is rewarded with a first-round playoff matchup against defending champion Silicon Valley Strikers.
Western Division Standings (Teams mathematically in playoff contention):
- Silicon Valley Strikers: 13 matches, 24 points, +1.60 NRR
- East Bay Blazers: 13 matches, 20 points, +1.40 NRR
- Seattle Thunderbolts: 12 matches, 18 points, +1.16 NRR
Western Division Weekend Matches:
- Saturday, August 13th, 2 PM PT: Seattle Thunderbolts v Golden State Grizzlies, Klahanie Park
- Saturday, August 13th, 2 PM PT: East Bay Blazers v Hollywood Master Blasters, Santa Clara
- Sunday, August 14th, 11 AM PT: Seattle Thunderbolts v Golden State Grizzlies, Klahanie Park
- Sunday, August 14th, 2 PM PT: Silicon Valley Strikers v Hollywood Master Blasters, Santa Clara
- Sunday, August 14th, 2 PM PT: SoCal Lashings v San Diego Surf Riders, Woodley Park
Western Division Playoff Scenarios by Team:
Silicon Valley Strikers: The Strikers have mathematically clinched first place!
East Bay Blazers/Seattle Thunderbolts: The Blazers take on the Hollywood Master Blasters, who have just two wins on the season by a combined nine runs. East Bay will look to run up the score, as NRR may be important. A win for the Blazers on Saturday would force Seattle to sweep a good Golden State Grizzlies side while also making up what’s currently a relatively narrow NRR deficit: easy enough on paper, but East Bay may widen that gap considerably on Saturday, and Seattle will find it harder to do the same against Golden State. If East Bay are upset by Hollywood, then a Seattle sweep puts them through on points, with a split bringing it back to NRR.
Second place in the West will travel to Texas to take on the Dallas Mustangs in the first round of the playoffs. Lower in the table, the SoCal Lashings and San Diego Surf Riders are playing for fifth place in the Division and Southern California bragging rights.
It’s a huge weekend for Minor League Cricket. The playoff picture hasn’t cleared up a whole lot over the past few weeks, with just a few fringe teams being formally eliminated from the race. As a result, we’re rewarded with 8 teams that have a realistic path to the playoffs fighting for just four spots. There will be playoff-level action across the weekend starting on Friday early afternoon all the way through to Sunday evening: tune in on the MLC Network and don’t miss a ball!