Jersey made it five wins out of five today to be crowned champions of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 6, securing promotion to WCL Division 5 in Malaysia early next year along with runners-up Nigeria.
Vanuatu finished 3rd in the table whilst it was disappointment for each of Argentina, Bahrain and Kuwait, who came in the bottom three and are relegated from the division.
Knowing that victory over Vanuatu at Farmers Field would be good enough to win the title, Jersey made no mistake in front of a strong home crowd, restricting their opponents to 189-9 in 50 overs and then knocking off the runs with 6.4 overs to spare.
A battling half-century from captain Peter Gough and 38 runs from man-of-the-match and player-of-the-tournament Ben Stevens set up the win, with Andrew Dewhurst (24* off 23 balls) thumping the ball to the leg-side boundary off the bowling of Vanuatu captain Andrew Mansale to score the winning runs and seal an emphatic 7-wicket victory.
Proudly holding the WCL Division 6 trophy amidst flowing champagne and scenes of jubilation, Gough said, ‘It’s a great day for Jersey Cricket. This is one of the best days I’ve known since playing. Having been relegated a couple of times and having fought hard to stay in this division, getting promoted is huge.
‘We can’t wait for the challenge of Malaysia. We feel we can keep improving and we can’t wait to go back there and do well in Division 5.
‘We had some tired bodies out there today and we didn’t field at our best but to keep Vanuatu down to 189 on a flat wicket was a good job. I was then really pleased with our batting – we built some good partnerships and that proved to be enough.’
Player of the tournament Ben Stevens, who scored a total of 193 runs at an average of 48.25 and took 17 wickets at an average of 9.59, said, ‘It’s been a brilliant week personally but also obviously for the team. We’ve come here and bounced back from our disappointment in Sussex. To put together the five or six performances like we have has been unbelievable.’
Captain Mansale, whose Vanuatu side remains in WCL Division 6, said, ‘As a captain I’m truly proud of my boys for what they’ve done at this tournament. We’ve come a long way to be here and I’m proud of how they’ve carried themselves this week.
‘If only we could have won our first game against Nigeria then things might have been different. Falling six runs short against them really hurt us. But apart from that, I’m very proud of my boys.’
The Nigerian team was also in a celebratory mood after their resounding 8-wicket victory over Argentina at Grainville saw them finish 2nd in the table and book a place alongside Jersey in WCL Division 5 in Malaysia next year.
Fast bowler Oluseye Olympio tore through the Argentinian batting line-up to return figures of 6-23 in 9 overs, finishing as the tournament’s most prolific bowler with an overall wicket haul of 19, as Nigeria dismissed Argentina for 185 in 46 overs.
At one point the Argentinians were 26-6 and facing an embarrassingly low total as Olympio wreaked his havoc, but Lucas Paterlini (48), Bernardo Irigoyen (39) and captain Esteban MacDermott (34) came to the rescue down the order.
With half an eye on their Net Run Rate, Nigeria then came out all guns blazing in their run chase, opener Segun Olayinka smashing an unbeaten 94 from 73 balls, including eight 4s and six 6s, as the Africans cruised home in the 30th over.
Nigeria’s delighted captain Kunle Adegbola said, ‘It’s a great thing to be in Division 5 and I am highly privileged to be the captain of this side which has been victorious throughout this tournament.
‘The team did brilliantly today – Seye Olympio and Saheed Akolade were both excellent with the ball and then Segun did a fine job with the bat. We’re all in high spirits.
‘I hope we do well in Malaysia and we’ll be looking to be promoted to Division 4. We’re going to prepare well because we know it’s going to be a tough task and a step-up in quality but we’re going to come hard in Division 5.’
Argentina’s captain MacDermott, whose side have now suffered four consecutive relegations, said, ‘I think we’ve played some good cricket throughout this week but it just wasn’t good enough to remain in the division or get promotion. It’s unfortunate that there are three spots for relegation so we’ll have to go down and regroup in the region, but we’ll work hard on the basics and try to make it back into the World Cricket League as soon as possible.
‘Our problem this week was that we didn’t put enough runs on the board batting first. The wickets were good to bat on and we got ourselves into good positions but we often couldn’t finish the job and ended up with small targets to defend.’
The wooden spoon showdown at FB Fields saw Bahrain beat Kuwait by 15 runs, wicket-keeper Shahzad Ahmed (46 off 50 balls, five 4s, one 6) top-scoring for the victors as they made 186 in 48 overs, whilst Raheel Khan (3-20 in 6 overs) impressed for Kuwait with the ball.
Kuwait then fought to the wire in their run-chase, number 10 batsman Azmatullah Nazeer (48 off 51 balls) hitting some big sixes as he rescued his side from 98-9 along with number 11 Shahrukh Quddus (20* off 27 balls) with a 73-run partnership, but their last-wicket stand was ended in the 47th over when Nazeer was bowled by Zafar Zaheer.
Reflecting on his side’s relegation from Division 6, Bahrain’s captain Yaser Sadeq said, ‘I don’t know what to say. We weren’t expecting this. We couldn’t cope with the conditions here and we’re not as bad as we performed but that’s cricket.
‘We haven’t played on turf wickets for the last three of four years so adjusting took us a few games. For the future, we have a good under-19s side coming through and they’ll be given chances now so Bahrain will look to bounce back.’
Kuwait’s vice-captain, Kashif Sharif, standing in for the injured Hisham Mirza, said, ‘This has been a disappointing tournament for us but Inshallah we will be back in Division 6 soon. We had selection issues with some of our key players so that weakened our team but Inshallah we will come back strongly in the future.’
Photographs: ICC/Barry Chambers