After two weeks of the inaugural Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship presented by SLING TV, the star performers to watch have started to emerge across the country. With 27 teams taking part featuring hundreds of players, projecting who would top the batting and bowling charts is certainly a fool’s errand. The stats so far tell the story – this is a wild ride of T20 cricket taking place on a scale unprecedented in the United States:
This weekend’s action will further test some of the standouts so far, as new pitches and new opposition bring fresh challenges in 29 matches taking place at 10 venues.
Let’s take a look at who is setting the early pace across the country. With 49 games played so far in the first two rounds of the championship, leaders in the batting and bowling charts have started to emerge across the 27 teams. Beginning with the Atlantic Conference, here’s who has started the season with a flourish:
With two of the top three run getters so far, the free-scoring New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers need to convert the contributions of the likes of Kennar Lewis and Xavier Marshall into victories in the hyper-competitive Eastern Division. The Cavs have so far won two and lost two matches despite putting up strong run totals on each occasion. The scoring has come at an impressive strike-rate, as well, faithfully following the T20 mantra of mashing sixes:
The pressure will be on this weekend for the Cavs’ bowling unit to make those runs count as on Saturday they face the New England Eagles, who are 2-1, and then on Sunday take on the unbeaten Manhattan Yorkers.
The Cavs are not alone in scoring heavily in the East, with all five top scorers in the Atlantic Conference coming from that division. The Philadelphians batting been anchored by Chris Patandin, with two half-centuries in his four innings, and will look to continue that form against the Eagles and Empire State Titans this weekend.
#PlayersOfTheWeek: Looking at the game changers for #ThePhiladelphians in our 2 wins thus far
Pic 1: Chris Patandin: Followed up his 29-ball 50 up with a 74(52) in a win.
Pic 2: Mr. Consistent Jonathan Foo with his all round exploits in our opening win. 41(22), 1-17 in 3 overs. pic.twitter.com/C3o7A0u8xF
— The Philadelphians Cricket (@philly_cricket) August 12, 2021
In the Southern Division, runs and wins have been harder to come by than for the teams in the East. That’ll change one way or another with plenty of divisional play this weekend, six games taking pace at Broward County Stadium in Florida and Church Street Park in Morrisville respectively.
Following a bye week, the Ft. Lauderdale Lions – who failed to win their two opening matches in week one – face the daunting task of containing the Atlanta Fire’s Corne Dry. The South African has been the leading all-rounder of the tournament so far, taking eight wickets and scoring 40 quick runs in three matches, and clearly enjoying his experience in Minor League Cricket:
Shifting to the Pacific Conference, here are the pace-setters in the batting and bowling charts:
Over in the Central Division, it’ll be all eyes on Texas, with eight matches at Moosa Stadium and Prairie View Cricket Complex. And so far, it’s been a division dominated by Texan teams, with the Houston Hurricanes 4-0 and the Austin Athletics 3-1. Houston’s form has been predicated on strong all-round play led by Ashley Nurse, with the West Indian international star hitting 83 runs off only 48 balls so far, while also taking nine wickets at an average of 9.29 and an economy rate of 4.64.
🏏 RESULTS: Hurricanes bounce back with solid hitting from Ashley Nurse to win by 4 wickets against the Michigan Cricket Stars! Take a look at this last SIX for the win!
SCORECARD: https://t.co/Q9FpuYAUL3 pic.twitter.com/O4VsftP9Si
— Minor League Cricket (@MiLCricket) August 7, 2021
The spotlight in the Western Division falls on Morgan Hill in Silicon Valley this weekend, with a big crowd expected out on “Cricket for the Community Day” this Saturday, as the Silicon Valley Strikers and East Bay Blazers host a doubleheader. There’ll be plenty of talent on display among the top performers in the league so far. The visiting Socal Lashings will feature Elmore Hutchinson, who proved true an adage of T20 cricket: it’s not always about how many total runs you score, it’s when and how quickly you score them that can win games. The USA Cricket legend proved that for the Lashings when he blasted three consecutive sixes in the final over to upset the San Diego Surf Riders on opening weekend.
SoCal Lashings turned out to be extremely dangerous with the bat! Elmore Hutchinson hits 3 HUGE sixes to win the match! pic.twitter.com/XfOUpz0WjV
— Minor League Cricket (@MiLCricket) August 2, 2021
The Surf Riders, though, will bring their own firepower to their Northern California matchups against the Golden State Grizzlies, East Bay Blazers and Silicon Valley Strikers at the weekend. The “Kain Train” truly is rolling, with Marty Kain sitting third in total runs scored in the Pacific Conference, 157 runs scored at a strike rate of 152.43. Scarily for the opposition, the New Zealand native seems only to be getting stronger with each innings played:
Kain and the Surf Riders will need to continue that form against some of the strongest bowling attacks in the Pacific Conference. The Grizzlies’ Vatsal Vaghela has snagged seven wickets in three matches, with a miserly economy rate of 3.75. USA National Team captain Saurabh Netravalkar has been even more frugal for the Strikers, conceding only 31 runs in 12 overs while taking six wickets. Here what Saurabh has to say about this upcoming weekend:
After 29 matches take place this weekend, no doubt the standings and rankings will shake up substantially. Watch it all live on YouTube – here’s your full guide to the match-ups scheduled: