Labor Day,  Minor League Cricket,  T20

Minor League Cricket Week Four Replay

If your idea of fun is flipping between almost 40 Minor League Cricket matches over a four-day long weekend, grab some food and drinks because you're about to hop on the ride of your life. This has been an interesting season for America's junior circuit. It's a ten-game season for every team, but through four weeks, some teams have played as many as eight games while others have played as few as two. It's been tough for teams to generate a lot of momentum with a week -- or two or three -- between matches. All that ends this weekend; 22 of the league's 26 teams will be banging away -- with a lot of teams scheduled to play four games over the next few days.

Looking to catch up with everything that's happened so far? You've come to the right place.

In the Eastern Division, the two New Jersey teams -- who've each played eight games -- will have the weekend off. The other teams will each play twice, giving everyone at least six games played. This'll make comparing the division's overall win-loss records a little more meaningful. And while I'm super psyched as a Bostonian to see the New England Eagles off to one of their best starts with a 2-2 record, the team who stands the most to gain this weekend could be The Philadelphians. At 3-0 through four games, they're one of only two undefeated teams in the entire league. Wins over the 1-3 Empire State Titans and the Eagles (2-2) would give the Philly squad five wins with four games still left to play and put a ton of pressure on current top team, the New Jersey Stallions, who are 5-3 with only two games left to play. That said, a strong showing by the Eagles could keep them in the playoff picture.

Key game this weekend?

The Philadelphians versus the New England Eagles on Saturday. NE has been led by the bat of Rizwan Mazhar and really needs Team USA's Sushant Modani to step things up if the team plans to go deep this season. The Philadelphians have relied on longtime Philly Jonathan Foo with both the bat and ball. First year Philadelphian, Ryan Scott, has been a solid boost for the offense and Raj Nannan has put up daunting numbers as part of the team's bowling attack.

Eastern Standings Wk4

Look for lots of movement in the standings in the Southern Division this weekend, as all six teams will play four games. The Baltimore Royals, who sprinted out to an early lead in the division have been joined at the top of the table at 3-1 by the Atlanta Lightning and a very surprising Ft. Lauderdale Lions squad.

Last weekend, the Lightning exacted a good measure of revenge by sweeping a pair from the Atlanta Fire. Over the past two years, the Fire have dominated the Lightning, going 3-1-1, with the only loss being in a rain-shortened match decided by the incredibly cryptic Duckworth-Lewis method. The Lions, meanwhile, are on a three-game winning streak after handing the struggling Orlando Galaxy a pair of losses last weekend. For a team that generally resides near the bottom of the division, this has been a great year so far for the Lions.

Key games this weekend?

The Ft. Lauderdale Lions versus the Baltimore Royals on Friday. The Lions are playing the best cricket in the history of the franchise. Tagenarine Chanderpaul is leading the lead in runs and has been the consistent opener that the team has lacked. And Kevin Stoute, who played for the Florida Beamers in 2021, is tied for the Atlantic Conference lead in wickets with 12. The Royals haven't played since Week Two (August 13) and could be a little flat. The Royals are led by Jaskaran Malhotra, fresh from a stint with the Los Angeles Knight Riders, and Sarbjeet Ladda, who has ten wickets and a sub-6.0 economy in four matches so far this season.

The Atlanta Lightning versus the Baltimore Royals on Monday. The Lightning hope to ride the momentum from last weekend into a busy Labor Day weekend. The team has been buoyed by the opening batting of Mark Parchment, but they could throw things into an entirely different gear offensively if Unmukt Chand can get on track. Chand, Minor League Cricket's leading scorer in both 2021 and 2022, has been quiet so far this year. By Monday, the Royals will have already played three matches, so whatever rustiness they may have felt from a two-week layoff should be gone and they should be firing on all cylinders for this clash.

Southern Standings Wk4

Right now, there are more questions than answers in the crowded Central Division, but there should be a lot more clarity by the end of the weekend, as all eight teams will be playing four matches. The Lone Star Athletics currently sit at 2-0, but haven't played since Week Two of the season. The loaded and very-scary-on-paper Dallas Mustangs also haven't played since Week Two and should be better than their 1-1 record would have you think. The Michigan Cricket Stars have been the most explosive offensive team in the league up until now and sit at the top of the pile at 3-1, so it will be interesting to see if they can keep the foot on the gas pedal all weekend.

Key games this weekend?

The Lone Star Athletics versus the Michigan Cricket Stars on Saturday. The Athletics are 2-0 and -- having already beaten the Mustangs -- have set themselves up as the team to beat in the central. Just don't tell the Cricket Stars that. Michigan has been putting up world-beating numbers thanks to openers Nicholas Kirton and Rizwan Cheema and all-rounder Mohammad Mohsin. The Athletics, meanwhile, have their own solid pair of openers in Shayan Jahangir and Nitish Kumar and some dominant bowling in the form of Pawan Suyal, who's taken six wickets in just two matches.

The Dallas Mustangs versus the Chicago Kingsmen on Sunday. The Mustangs have seven players with Major League Cricket experience but that's yet to translate to anything meaningful on the field. They eeked out a super over victory against the Houston Hurricanes in their season opener and followed that up with a loss to the Athletics. If there's ever a good time for the Mustangs to get the car out of neutral, it's this weekend. The Kingsmen dropped their opener to the Chicago Tigers, but have since swept the St. Louis Americans to notch a 2-1 record. Hassan Khan leads the Kingsmen with 95 runs in two innings -- and has yet to be put out! And Mir Hamza has been a beast with the ball, grabbing ten wickets in three matches with a 5.33 econ.

Central Standings Wk4

With top teams, the East Bay Blazers (4-1) and Silicon Valley Strikers (4-2), having the weekend off, there's a lot of room for some squads to make their playoff run in the Western Division. With two games on the schedule, the SoCal Lashings (3-3) could find themselves as the points leader by the time Tuesday morning rolls around. The same can also be said for last year's champs, the Seattle Thunderbolts. Currently at 2-2, the Bolts have four games this weekend and if they can get on a roll could solidify their place among the division's elite. The San Diego Surf Riders, winless in four matches, will have four shots this weekend to, hopefully, put a W up on the board.

Key games this weekend?

The SoCal Lashings versus the Seattle Thunderbolts on Saturday and Sunday. Back-to-back matches that should provide a good amount of playoff clarity. The Lashings have the chance to be the first Southern California team to contend for a playoff position in the history of Minor League Cricket. They've relied heavily on Ruben Clinton, who's currently third in the Pacific Conference in runs, and the bowling of Ayan Desai, who's taken ten wickets and has an econ that only recently crept above the 6.0 mark. The Thunderbolts are an almost unrecognizable squad from last year's title winners -- gone are Harmeet Singh, Phani Simhadri, and Andries Gous -- but Shadley Van Schalwyck has been a major contributor in both the team's batting and bowling attacks.

Western Standings Wk4

The Hot List --

Anthony Bramble. The Golden State Grizzly climbed to the top of the Pacific Conference in both runs and sixes with a 78-run outburst in a win over the SoCal Lashings. His 52-ball assault included six fours and five sixes, which brings his sixes total to 16.

Gajanand Singh. Raj Nannan isn't the only bowling threat the New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers have. In two matches last weekend, Singh grabbed four wickets and allowed just 14 runs in four overs against New England and then took another two while allowing only four runs in two overs against the Titans.

Corbin Bosch and Dominic Drakes. Yeah, I know. It's the CPL, but the pair combined for a league record 34 runs in the final over of a match against Barbados. I realize that Calvin Savage cranked 34 in an over last year for the Chicago Tigers, but to be top dogs in a league that's been home to Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, and a bunch of other big bats is pretty special.


The Cold List --

The Boston Red Sox. They're quickly disappearing from playoff contention and they're running out of games. Plus, it's going to fall here pretty soon. And then winter. And it'll be a long winter if they've had a disappointing season.


© Steinberg 2023

Divisional standings graphics courtesy of Brian Barrish

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