Costa Rica was runner-up in the second Central American Cricket Championships held in Mexico City Nov. 16-18 among Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica, improving on its third-place finish in the first championships last year, played against Mexico and Belize (TT,March 31, 2006).
Most of the same squad played last year, but three important newcomers were allrounder Ben Smith and two Costa Rican brothers, Armando and Danilo Foster, from the Limón Club. Mexico fielded a number of the same Indian players from last year, but El Salvador, the new entrant, came with an impressive eight young Salvadorans, captained by Andrew Murgatroyd of the CuscatlecaBritishAcademy and Philip Mostyn of Dell, the team’s sponsor.
This was not an International Cricket Council (ICC)-sponsored tournament because of the council’s nationality and residence criteria, but it was ICC friendly (Costa Rica has been an ICC affiliate country since 2002 and Mexico since 2004, but El Salvador not yet). According to Costa Rica Cricket Association (CRCA) records, Costa Rica has not played against El Salvador since about 40 years ago.
Our team arrived in Mexico Nov. 15 and was able to practice at the Reforma Athletic Club grounds to get acclimated. The next day, Costa Rica scored 254 to beat El Salvador by 173 runs, thanks largely to an unbeaten century by Smith, followed by tight fielding and bowling, dismissing the enthusiastic and energetic El Salvador side for 81 runs.
On Saturday, Costa Rica watched as the stronger Mexico team made 249 to beat El Salvador by 148 runs. Though the scores and the margin were similar to our previous victory,Mexico had more difficulty beating El Salvador, one of whose young batsmen, Frank Arbizu, recorded the top score of the match – 53 not out, the second highest of the tournament.
In Sunday’s final match, Costa Rica started well, putting Mexico’s back to the wall at 51-4 and 127-7 before getting them all out for 165, a total we considered beatable.
Chris Prasad bowled best before injuring himself, captain David Crisp caught impressive catches and Danilo Foster kept wicket well, again. This time, however, our batting let us down and the first four batsmen failed to reach double figures. After some resistance by Crisp and Prasad in the middle of the order, the tail collapsed, our highest scorer being wide balls by Mexico, and at 96 all out we lost by 69 runs.
Smith was chosen unanimously to receive the Man of the Tournament Award. In addition to those already mentioned, good performances were contributed by players Barry Ashworth, Micky Peart and Herd Rogers in batting, Peart, Rogers and Smith bowling and the whole team in fielding.
Team Costa Rica has committed itself to revenge upon Mexico in the third Central American championships, which may be held in Costa Rica. For the record, cricket has been played in Mexico since 1827, when the original Union Club was founded. A photograph of Emperor Maximilian in cricket whites with bat among Union Club players in 1865 hangs in the ArmyMuseum in Brussels, Belgium. The Reforma Athletic Club was formed in 1894, about when cricket was first played in Limón, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.
The CRCA expresses its gratitude to its efficient and hospitable Mexico Cricket Association hosts, especially to president David Grant and ex-presidents Foster and Clarke, to the opposing teams, the three captains, the umpires provided by ICC Americas, and to organizers Roger Mathauda and Barry Ashworth. Last but not least, CRCA thanks the sponsors that made our participation possible: Taste of Britain, Bougainvillea and Club del Mar hotels, Chichi’s Restaurant, Motores Británicos, two association members, the association itself and Café Britt, which donated the coffee to be presented to opponents and officials.
For full scores, e-mail CRCA secretary Penny Houghton at firstname.lastname@example.org. For info on playing cricket and joining the association, contact vice-president Barry Ashworth at email@example.com.