AMERICAN PREMIERE LEAGUE Premium Windees beat Premium Paks in the final but walk away without collecting the trophy and the winners’ cheque
Little Falls, NJ
A day of exciting cricket and celebrations ended in a huge disaster on Thursday when the final game between Premium Windees and Premium Paks ended amidst a controversy as the winners walked away in protest over the naming of Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament. Though Premium Windees won the game as they reached the target of 156 in 19.2 overs with seven wickets in hand, they refused to receive the trophy. Premium Paks, batting earlier, had scored 156 for 8 in 20 overs.
The easy win should have led to celebrations in the Windees camp. But a controversy erupted over the MVP honor. The Windees team left the ground at the Yogi Berra stadium in protest after arguing that their star batsman Raunaq Sharma should be given the coveted prize of MVP of the first edition of the American Premiere League (APL).
Amid tension running high on the ground, the Windees players demanded that Sharma, whose brilliant performance helped the team beat Premium Indians in the first semi-final and emerge victorious in the finals, be given the prize. But the APL promoter Jay Mir said the prize would go to the Australian player Tom Keaton. The Aussie batsman had scored the highest number of runs in the tournament but his team didn’t even make it to the semi-finals and was at the lowest rank in the points table. Since it is very unusual for the MVP honor going to a player whose performance didn’t even help his team reach the later stages of the tournament, the naming of Keaton immediately evoked a protest from the Windees team.
Interestingly, the real valuable player of the tournament, Rahkeem Cornwall of Premium Indians who had made the highest scores with unmatched batting, was excluded from consideration for MVP because he had to pull out of semi-final against Windees after he received a letter from the West Indies cricket board to not play. The letter from the West Indies board came as the US Cricket Board too got into dispute with APL for non-payment of some amount as per their contract. The permission from the US Cricket Board was a major driver for the sales of teams and market recognition for the franchise.
As the controversy raged on, the APL organizers announced that the management will take up the matter in one week even as team owners left the place in furious mood with great disappointment after an otherwise good cricket league.
With the tournament ending in a fiasco, the team owners are demanding a meeting as most are upset because of a suspicion that Tom Keaton was unfairly chosen as the MVP by the panel that included Jay Mir.
APL was launched last month as a new cricket league in the US. The inaugural tournament was held at Yogi Berra Stadium in Little Falls, NJ from September 20 to 30, with seven cricket teams, each named after the communities across the world who love cricket: Premium Americans, Premium Aussies, Premium Windees, Premium Paks, Premium Indians, Premium English and Premium Bengalees. Owned and operated by American Sports and Entertainment Group headed by Jay Mir, the APL had Twenty20 cricket, where each team plays 20 overs — or innings, made up of six pitches each. There were five batters per game, with each playing a maximum of four overs.
Winners given the trophy
While going to the press on Friday, The Indian EYE learned that the Premium Windees were finally given the winners’ trophy at a small gathering. While the details of the event were not immediately available as there was no information about it on the APL website, some photos shared on social media suggest that the Windees team might have accepted the winners’ cup and cheque, while the MVP issue probably remains unresolved.