The first Central American Cricket Championships took place March 18-20 at Lord’s Bank cricket ground near Belize City, representing a giant step forward for cricket in the region. Participants were Belize,Mexico and Costa Rica, the latter represented by members of the Costa Rican Cricket Association.
Although all three countries are International Cricket Council (ICC) affiliates, their levels of cricketing skills and experience were markedly different. Belize failed to obtain promotion to ICC associate status last year, but for technical reasons rather than inadequate playing ability. Mexico has considerable league and international match experience, as well as a selection of good Indian and Australian players to draw from.
In this company, Costa Rica was the overwhelming underdog. Indeed, the order of finishing was as predicted: Belize first, followed by Mexico and Costa Rica.
The first day of the championship, Belize “produced a powerful performance to overpower a spirited Costa Rica, (whose) inexperience at this level was obvious,” according to a game report by ICC Regional Development Officer Grant Dugmore. Though Belize won by a whopping 281 runs, Costa Rica’s “…obvious enthusiasm and determination (were) a credit to the entire… team,” Dugmore writes.
On day two, Costa Rica appeared to have a better chance against Mexico, but the more experienced team proved “too strong for a plucky Costa Rican side,” according to Dugmore. Nonetheless, the underdogs “produced an improved performance in the field and some outstanding catches were ultimately held” (though sadly not by yours truly, whose hat seemed to get in the way). Mexico won by 163 runs, eliminating Costa Rica from contention.
In the final on day three, Belize beat Mexico handily by 78 runs. In addition to the satisfaction of being the first winner of this championship, the event afforded Belize important preparation for its participation in the upcoming ICC Division 2 Championship to be held next month in Argentina.
For Costa Rica, just being in the championship was a quantum leap forward compared to its recently established league play and past informal visits to Nicaragua and Panama. The squad, which included five Costa Ricans (in accordance with ICC rules), gained valuable experience and got a better feel for ICC-type rules and play. All team members enjoyed the trip, the cricket and the hospitality of the Belizeans, and are grateful to sponsors Café Britt, Hotel Club del Mar, Motores Británicos-Land Rover, TACA airline, ICC Americas and two association members who, by doubling up on the players’ individual contributions, made the trip a reality.
Plans are to hold the second Central American Cricket Championships in Mexico City in 2007, with the chance of new teams from Guatemala and El Salvador entering and possibly leveling the playing field for Costa Rica.
For full scores, e-mail association secretary Penny Houghton at firstname.lastname@example.org. New players and members are welcome and may contact the writer at 381-8736 or e-mail match secretary Johnnie Lambert at email@example.com.