KUWAIT: Kuwait Cricket (KC), the official body of governing cricket in Kuwait in association with IDP Education – official IELTS centre in Kuwait invited South African legend Herschelle Herman Gibbs as the guest of honor in order to give yet another boost to the overall development of domestic cricket in Kuwait. As many as 7 finals took place over an action packed weekend that saw the entire Kuwait Cricket fraternity celebrate the National and Liberation day of Kuwait T20 style. KC-SDL & KC-DTDL were the on-going turf tournaments that concluded on the 25th & 26th of February respectively at TACK entertainment city cricket ground – Doha in a lively atmosphere created by DJ flames that kept the entire audience present at the ground fully entertained. KC – DTDL saw as many as 20 teams participate in the tournament.
It was undoubtedly a privilege for all the finalist teams and their respective players along with the entire Kuwait Cricket fraternity to have someone of Gibbs’s stature not only to witness the finals but also give his expert opinions and pitch reports during the process.
When Johnty Rhodes retired, South Africans wondered where they would find a replacement fielder of the most predatory type; Herschelle Gibbs answered the call and was as good, if not better than the great Johnty himself. Gibbs started his international career in 1996 and played many match winning innings for his country; none better than his 175 off just 111 balls against Australia at the Wanderers in 2006.
Earlier in the weekend, a one of its kind press meet took place on Thursday the 25th at TACK-TEC in the presence of all the KC council members including the chairman Emad Al Jassam who was ecstatic to see the preparations and build up.
Sajid Ashraf, the director of domestic cricket and marketing at Kuwait Cricket while conducting the press meet asked Gibbs about his thoughts on the development of cricket in Kuwait to which the super star enthusiastically responded “I was here for Huawei 4 nations T20 festival which was a fantastic tournament, professionally managed and organized, and therefore had every reason to come back and will keep coming back in the future as I see a lot of potential in Kuwait Cricket”. Gibbs added that more needs to be done on building an international training facility giving example of the ICC academy in Dubai while praising the picturesque look of TACK entertainment city cricket ground – Doha.
The first of the seven mega finals took place on Thursday (25th Feb) evening right after the press meet and saw Bangladesh friends take on gulf cable in KC-SDL division 5 finals. Gulf cable won the match by 5 wickets and Breitner George was announced the man of the finals for his crucial 40 runs in 47 balls.
KC-SDL division 4 finals were played between Al Bader and Afghan tigers and Al Bader comfortably won the match by 44 runs and Yohan was declared the man of the finals. Q8 falcons won the KC-SDL division 3 finals in a nail biting finish against Royal Kings by a mere 5 runs only with the very experienced Rasheed Ismail taking away the man of the finals trophy by scoring a valuable 54 runs in 37 balls. KC-SDL division 2 finals was played between Kuwait Hawks and Lanka Lions and Nikhil Kulkarni was declared man of the finals for his outstanding batting of 94 runs in 56 balls that sealed the deal for Kuwait hawks.
KC-SDL division 1 final was a treat to watch and the aptitude at display was appreciated by the crowd and Herschelle Gibbs as the extremely talented future stars took on the star studded team of Petrofac. Future stars put on a fighting score of 172 runs batting first with Naeem Choudhry first stealing the show with a strike rate of over 200 going all guns blazing at 65 off 31 balls and was very well supported by Hisham Mirza who scored 40 off 28 balls. Skipper Ramaraju of Petrofac was the pick of the bowlers picking up 3 wickets in 4 overs and going for only 22 runs. With more than 100 runs left to be chased down, Petrofac was reeling at 72 for 8 when Mudassar Ali and the evergreen Azmatullah Mohammed were on the crease. What happened after will undoubtedly go down as one of the best chases in a final in Kuwait’s T20 domestic cricket history. Mudassar Ali scored a match winning 47 not out and was equally well supported by Azmatullah Mohammed who was at his vintage best scoring 37 not out. Mudassari Ali was declared the man of the finals for his overall match winning performance.
KC-DTDL division B finals saw the rivalry of Sky Lark CC and Kuwait Hawks come to life as the two went head to head on Friday the 26th of Feb at 4:30pm onwards. Kuwait hawks who have had a fantastic run this domestic season continued their winning streak with yet another match winning performance by the talented Nikhil Kulkarni who scored 93 runs in 47 balls and helped his side win two back to back division b finals over the weekend.
The grand finale of KC-DTDL division A was by far the most awaited game of the weekend as it had the top two teams of Kuwait, Petrofac and Aroma, in terms of wins and players take on the center stage at prime time 7:30 pm onwards in front of the entire Kuwait Cricket fraternity including the event sponsors and His Excellency the Ambassador of South Africa to Kuwait MP Bona, and His Excellency, the acting ambassador of Afghanistan to Kuwait, Sheikh. The toss was conducted by director of domestic cricket and marketing Sajid Ashraf along with Herschelle Gibbs, deputy chairman of the council Iqbal Vanoo, director technical Sudhakar Shetty, director general Asad Baig, president TACK International Mohammed Ashraf and the team of match officials headed by Imran Haji Mustafa. Ramaraju of Petrofac won the toss and elected to bat first. It was a fascinating sight to see Gibbs interview the captains of both the sides, Amjad of Aroma and Ramaraju of Petrofac as it gave a very international feel to the buildup.
The dashing Amir Javed (41 off 15) and Hassan Arif of Petrofac (23 off 10) were on fire as they took the score to 80 runs in as less as 5 overs before a bullet throw from Raveja saw the back of Amir Javed. Boundaries were as easily hit as taking a single and Gibbs was mesmerized to see such strong batting on display. The skipper Amjad Ashraf of Aroma got his side back in to the game by picking up three crucial wickets of Nadeem Malik, Mustansar Butt and Bilal Ali in a match winning spell of 4 – 25 – 3. However, it was out and out an evening that belonged to Mohammed Asghar who absolutely murdered the bowling attack of petrofac and scored a sizzling 65 runs off 28 balls with 7 fours and 4 humongous sixes. Usman Waheed played the anchor role and scored a composed knock of 50 runs off 37 balls with four 4’s and one 6. Aroma chased down the target with two overs to spare and that saw the entire club rush to the pitch upon scoring the winning runs with Ashghar declared the man of the finals.
The presentation party and the entire event was headed and conducted by Sajid Ashraf. In order to make the most of Gibbs’s tour to Kuwait, KC had set up a unique coaching clinic in association with IDP and indiansinkuwait.com that saw as many as 50 registered kids between the ages of 8 – 19 learn batting, bowling, fielding and confidence building skills from the legend himself on Saturday, February 27.