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SPLT20: Choiseul cruise to cricket cup

By Terry Finisterre, St. Lucia News Online freelance sports writer

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The Choiseul Craft Masters have never been out of their depth in the Saint Lucia Premier League T20. They made the inaugural final in 2017, losing to Avatar City Blasters. They played unbeaten until the knockout rounds in 2018, when they lost to Daren Sammy’s side again.

In 2019, Craft Masters were imperious in the preliminaries, depending heavily on runs from Jason Simon and Christian Charlery, as well as tight bowling from Alvinus Simon and Bronté Bess. With Avatar City Blasters knocked out early, they marched into the finals by dispatching the Gros Islet Knights in straightforward fashion, becoming the fourth team this season to compile a total in excess of 200 runs.

In the final, against South Castries Lions, they made 163/8. Jason Simon started the scoring well, with 30 off 22, including three sixes. But Charlery, Junior Henry, and Vince Smith all fell cheaply, and it was time for a different hero to step up.

Audy Alexander, Saint Lucia’s national captain, had done more with the ball than with the bat this year. But on this occasion, Sunday night at the Phillip Marcellin Grounds, he turned on the class, hitting 45 off 36 balls to guide his team to a defendable total. His escalation was timely, given that Choiseul were 85/6 deep in the 13th over. Bradley Tisson finished things off, hitting four sixes to make 27 off just 13 balls.

In response, one would have expected the defending champions to depend on former West Indies opening pair. Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles. Fletcher, especially, has been in fine form. The Grenadian maintained that form with a knock of 73 off 47 balls (11×4, 3×6) but his Saint Lucian counterpart struggled, making just nine runs from 14 balls. By the time Fletcher was out in the 16th over, the fifth wicket to fall, with 119 on the board, things looked bleak for South Castries.

The Lions ended on 141/6. Choiseul Craft Masters won by 22 runs, and became the first team from outside of Castries to lift the SPL title.

For the season, Jason Simon finished fifth in the runs table, on 157, with Christian Charlery sixth on 151. Fletcher totalled 229 runs to top the scoring table for the second year in a row. Murgaran Shoulette of Mabouya Valley Renegades made 196, Julian Sylvester (Vieux Fort North Raiders) 166, and Vidal Crandon (Gros Islet Knights) 165. In 2017, the top scorer made 145 runs.

Alvin Prospere of Gros Islet Knights and Lennice Modeste of Mabouya Valley Renegades were the top wicket-takers, on 10 each. Prospere bowled five overs more than Modeste, and had a lesser average, but Modeste threw down a massive 19 wides. His teammate Tyler Sookwa claimed nine wickets, whilst Alleyn Prospere of Avatar City Blasters and Audy Alexander of Craft Masters had even each. The two Prosperes were both in the top five last season, but only Alleyn has been a top five wicket-taker all three years.

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