Both the T20 and 40 over Cricket Newfoundland and Labrador championships were clinched by the long-term powerhouse Avengers club over the long weekend. The abbreviated season started on July 4, and will conclude next weekend. The Avengers so far are unbeaten in outdoor play in 2020. The 40-over competition had four teams competing, playing just a single round robin, and concluded in thrilling fashion as the Avengers took three wickets in the final over to beat the Royal Challengers by a single run. The T20 league expanded this year to seven clubs, and for the first time featured a 2 division set up, with the top four clubs allocated to Division 1 and the bottom three to Division 2 after a first round where each club played the other once. One of the new clubs, the Hurricanes clinched Division 2 last weekend, and this weekend the Avengers beat the Newfoundland Super Kings to secure the Division 1 title with one game to play.
Of note this season are the number of high scores. Matches are played on a high quality Nottsport mat laid over concrete installed in 2017, which offers pace and bounce; the high scores this year reflect the work put in by volunteers on the outfield. The association has invested in a lawn tractor, which is used to cut the outfield close (taking 3-4 hours each week), meaning that a much higher proportion of good shots are rewarded with boundaries than in previous years, where the ball would hold up in long grass. The field now likely is the best playing facility east of Ontario, although it lacks supporting infrastructure. The league saw batsmen record 14 centuries this summer, 11 of them in T20 (prior to this year, only 21 hundreds have been scored in the previous 9 years).
Six of those centuries have been scored by Rahul Vashishtha, always a prolific batsman, but he has hit a remarkable run of form this summer. He started the league season with a duck, but since then has scored consistently, no more so than in the last month, when he went on an amazing run of scores – 108, 153, 104*, 105, 25, 103* and 120 – 718 runs in 7 innings, scoring 51% of his team’s runs. It is unfortunate that the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented inter-provincial play, and national camps; Rahul has had the opportunity to play in the national T20 previously but was hampered by injury; it would be interesting to see what he is capable of against high quality bowling when fully fit .
In addition Cricket NL has a successful women’s club and operates a summer junior programme.