I don't care what you did, Nosh Kenjige had a better summer than you.
He spent July hanging out with some of the top cricketers in the world -- Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Rashid Khan, and Trent Boult -- as part of Major League Cricket's MI New York team. The squad won the league's inaugural championship and Nosh proved that he could hang with the game's elite; his 5.73 economy was the lowest in the league for anyone who bowled more than 15 overs.
But Nosh was just getting started. Instead of hanging out on the beach for the remainder of the summer -- like I would have done -- he rejoined the Dallas Mustangs for the third straight season. Two months later, he would again be hoisting some hardware. This time it was the Minor League Cricket championship trophy. And it's a trophy that the Mustangs wouldn't have won had it not been for Nosh's play with both bat and ball in the title game.
Coming into the season, the Mustangs looked like the team to beat. The squad featured eight players who had been on Major League Cricket rosters, but they stumbled out of the blocks. Over the opening weekend of the season, they went 1-1 -- and needed to go to a super over for that win. By midseason, though, the bats of Corey Anderson, Andries Gous, and Nauman Anwar had come alive and the Mustangs cruised to the top spot in the Central Division. In the Super Eights, they were unstoppable, ripping through the Lone Star Athletics, Silicon Valley Strikers, and East Bay Blazers to earn a place in the title game.
The New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers took a different route to the championship game at Grand Prairie Stadium. They started off the season 1-3-1 and somehow managed to sneak into the playoffs with a 5-4-1 record. Back-to-back wins launched them into the Super Eights, where -- despite forfeiting a game because of an ineligible player -- they ended up tops in the Atlantic Conference.
The title game was an oddball affair from the start. Without slugger Corey Anderson in the XI, Dallas was counting heavily on Gous and Anwar for runs. But New Jersey wasn't going to let that happen. Gous was sent back to the pavilion in the second over after scoring just a single run. Anwar would last until seventh over before flying out, his 10 runs coming quite expensively from 19 balls. The Mustangs were 28/2 at the end of the power play and 46/5 at the halfway point of the innings and it looked like New Jersey was in the process of pulling off a massive upset.
That's when Kenjige came in to bat and the run rate began to climb. A 56-run partnership with Ali Sheikh stopped the tumbling of Dallas wickets. Sheikh would bow out at 36 runs and Nosh would go on to score 27, but the stability they brought back to the innings allowed the Mustangs to finish their innings at 128. It wasn't a typical bombastic Mustangs innings, but it was a lot better than many expected considering the team's anemic start.
The Cavaliers looked to make short work of their chase. A 20-run third over from openers Kennar Lewis and Steven Katwaroo brought the Cavs to the 30 mark through three overs and a New Jersey win seemed all but inevitable. And that's when the wheels fell off. All of them.
© CricAmerica.com/Steve Steinberg 2023