Team Manchester have retained the English and Welsh Cricket Board (ECB) City Cup by overcoming South London at the Fischer Country Ground in Leicester. The team, which is predominantly made of players aged 18, won its third cup in five season beating Wolverhampton in the quarter final and Bradford in the semi-final.
The final was a repeat of the 2016 contents and Manchester’s start was a difficult one having been reduced to 10-3 early on. Asad Alirizvi and Hashir Khan provided the inspiration for the turnaround as they achieved a fourth wicket stand of 47. The team eventually won the game with a 142-7 scoreline with Khan remaining unbeaten at 57 from 51.
South London also found their opening to be a troublesome one with Alirizvi this time hurting them with the ball. Alirizvi along with captain Adil Hussain reduced South London to 33 for 5 and the Southern team were eventually all out for 106. Fresh after being named bowler of the day, Alirizvi said “I started playing cricket in the Chance to Shine programme and had the opportunity to play in the City Cup this year thanks to the Lancashire Cricket Board. It’s amazing to have the chance to come and play at a county ground and be watched by the people that are here today.”
Farouk Hussain, the team’s head coach, was also full of praise for the champions. “The boys had to work very hard in the semi-final and final to secure victory. The team may not have the star players of previous campaigns but they have risen to the challenge when presented with it and have shown great mental toughness and unity. It has been a great team effort and one that I am very proud to have been part of. It’s a young side and they will have gained a lot from the rollercoaster ride they have been on this season.”
The ECB T20 City Cup was created in order to promote inner-city cricket and was originally started in London in 2009. The cup has expanded since and in 2013 Manchester joined along with Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Bradford.
James Cutt from the Lancashire Cricket Board, who oversees cricket development for minority ethnic communities added: “I’m delighted for the players, coaches and volunteers that have worked on this programme. A lot of effort has gone into achieving not just the City Cup win but many of the ‘spin off’ benefits for the players involved in this programme and I look forward to seeing how they develop. My thanks go to all the coaches, umpires, scorers and volunteers who have made this happen, but in particular Farouk Hussain who has gone above and beyond what was expected of him in his role as Head Coach.”