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All-Filipina team Divas grand slam cricket champs

21 June 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Jennifer Alumbro delivered three sixes and bowled out three rival players as Filipinas stormed to the championship of Cricket Hong Kong’s Development League on Jun 3 with a clean sweep of all their games in their maiden season in the sport.

he form that carried the team to victory.
The SCC Divas, an all-domestic helper team, formally took the crown via a devastating 141-run victory in 16 overs against their Game 2 opponents Craigengower Cricket Club, which managed only 37 runs.

The Filipinas warmed up for the final match in a 124-run win in 16 overs against United Services Recreation Club’s 48 in the morning game.

“Thank you for making this league very exciting,” head coach British Richard Waite told the Divas players after the final game.

Waiter later handed the team a small, token gold trophy, which he said would be replaced with a big one at the awarding of trophies and medals on Jun 22, at a still unknown venue.

“You easily dominated the league in your first cricket tournament. Next season, we will move you up to the T20 league, where you will be playing against more experienced teams,” Waite said. He urged the Filipinas to invite more of their friends to the sport.

Opposing teams in a T20 game play a single innings restricted to 20 overs.

Jennifer Alumbro was declared the most valuable player of the day, as she scored three sets of six runs against USRC by batting the ball past the border in the first game on Jun 3 and another six in the match against CCC. Ma Luz Madia was also picked as an MVP.

For the entire league that began on May 6, Alumbro was the highest scorer with a total of 193 runs. Close behind her was Divas captain Josie Arimas with 189 runs, and while Zeny Badajos was the third-highest with 140.

“I’m speechless. I can’t believe we are the champions,” Arimas told The SUN after the league. The former Palarong Pambansa baseball player from Bacolod was astounded after the last match.

“Grand slam talaga, walang talo,” she said, digesting her team’s success. “Ang saya kanina. Tapos, ang kalaban (CCC) ay dating naglalaro na sa main league.”

Team manager Animesh Kulkani was not in Hong Kong to watch his wards clinch the championship, but was in touch by phone most of the time during the match asking how the team was faring, Arimas said.

The Filipinas’ cutting edge appeared to be their background in baseball and softball, which made them “strong whackers,” as Hong Kong national team coach Waite has described them. Their experience on the diamond also made them good bowlers.

The left-handed Alumbro, a slugger from Aklan, denied the all-Hongkonger CCC a chance to overtake the 141 runs that the Divas had strung in their innings by dismissing three batters with precision bowling. 
The SCC Divas celebrate their victory in the Cricket Hong Kong’s Development League.

Romina Osabel, a powerful softball and baseball player, took down two wickets while Arimas dropped one as the Divas showed the opponents they were on target even from a distance. Badajos did just that when she recovered as fast ball from the right field and struck down the stump about 20 meters away.

All CCC could score in their innings was 37 runs for 16 overs, after losing some from deductions for the fallen wickets.

Coach Najeeb Amar, who honed up the baseball and softball-oriented Filipinas in this entirely unfamiliar sport, joined the players in savoring their victory.

“You made my life easier, girls,” Amar said, recalling that it was he who at first had some difficulty calling them up for training, understandably because of their jobs. But it did not take long before the Filipinas themselves would call him to come out and train them, he said.

He said in the T20 league, he will divide the 25 Divas players into two teams playing in the same tournament. 
For now, the team will have a month-long rest before they begin rigid training for the next season, which will begin in September.

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