An impeccable bowling display helped Medellín Cricket Club take victory in June’s national cricket championships just outside Bogotá to earn the well-deserved title of Colombian champions for the second time.
But a much-improved display from Cali’s team nearly complicated matters for the paisas in one of the most tense cricket tournaments for many a year here.
With interest in Colombian cricket at an all-time high, Los Pinos Polo Club – hosting its first ever cricket event – provided an unprecedented experience for players and supporters alike, with the perfectly manicured, full-size outfield and a cut grass pitch unique in the country.
Cali batted first in the first match against Medellín and came out all guns blazing, with Simon Treiber’s 51 off 25 balls the clear highlight. The paisas were set a target of 111 to win from 20 overs.
An inspired spell of slow bowling from Dave Ingram, meticulously taking advantage of the expanding divots in the damp pitch, left Medellín needing 12 off the last over. The legendary figure of Jake MacMillan, who founded Medellín CC in 2014, was the man to take on what was surely an impossible task. But a scrambled three off the last ball left the Cali team distraught and ensured that Medellín snatched victory.
The afternoon’s game saw Medellín’s accurate bowlers strangle the life out of the Bogotá innings, leaving the paisas just 87 to chase. When star batsmen Gilbert, Edelston and Shrivastava went out early on the hosts started to sniff victory, until a composed unbeaten 20 from all-rounder Guy Leslie meant the Medellín team eased home with nine balls to spare and crowned themselves national champions.
Bogotá were in no mood to suffer further upset on Sunday morning against Cali, when John Bartlett’s 62 not out – by far the classiest innings of the weekend – helped the hosts set a target of 132.
Cali fought strongly, with skipper and keeper Jamie Davis hitting a calm 52 to stake a claim for a place in the Colombian national team, but they were always behind the required rate.
Next up for Colombian cricket is the 2016 South American Championships in Rio de Janeiro in October. A squad will be announced in July.
By Olly West