Last night was the finals for the first season of ProCricket, and I was there.
The New Jersey Fire were facing the San Francisco Freedom on their home ground, and calling the CommerceBank Ballpark a Free(dom) Fire Zone would not have been at all inaccurate. Both sides displayed some amazing batting, and some amazing fielding to go with it - but at the end of it all (and I do mean the end, the fifth ball of the twentieth over for San Francisco), San Francisco got to take the ProCricket trophy home with them.
Unfortunately, I got messed up beyond recovery in my attempt at scoring this time around - more on that later; I'm not at all upset about it - so no real details, but NJ were hitting well, peppering the boundary and running well through their mid-innings, but also succumbing to eight of San Francisco's attempts to take wickets. Final score 192/8, in an innings that looked very much like they could have made it to two hundred.
San Francisco gave as good as they got in batting; they started off with a bang, but were virtually shut down in their early innings. Virtually, however, isn't completely, and San Francisco did manage several additional bursts, keeping their average scoring rate almost exactly the same as New Jersey's. New Jersey's fielding was ... irregular ... though respectable; several easy runouts were muffed and a couple of catches that should have been outs were dropped - but they also robbed San Francisco of a few boundary hits, converting what would have been fours into singles. One runout represented a ProCricket first: they broke the wicket. No, I know that's what you're supposed to do, but not quite to the point where they had to replace a stump! Near the end, it looked like New Jersey was going to shut down the San Francisco batting, leaving them two runs down at the finish, but on that very last ball, San Francisco managed to send it to the boundary for four, leaving them two up instead. Final score, 194/7 - but it was a near thing!
This game had all of the excitement that's implied by the ProCricket slogan, 'Fast and furious global action', and the crowd showed it - they were very vocal, moreso than at any of the regular season games that I attended at Staten Island. Part of that may have been that it was in fact the championship game, but I think that the game itself was simply more exciting - you could see that the quality of play was higher than earlier in the season, and this was between the two teams that had showed that they were arguably the best.
Why I got messed up on the scoring: I think I've been Noticed by the league and TV people. National Public Radio does a show where unusual sports with 'highbrow' images are spotlighted, and they were at the match - and were brought over to *me* to interview. I ended up explaining the basics of the game to the interviewer, and also what was going on 'real-time'. This was almost certainly going 'into the can' for later broadcast, but I don't know when. I was also offered the opportunity to do 'guest commentary' on TV, but I turned that down - for some reason, the idea scared me a little bit. At any rate, that's when the scoring went to the wayside.
Tomorrow (Sunday) it's back to Staten Island for the last ProCricket game this year - the All-Star game, the best players from the Covers (eastern) Division against those from the Midwicket (western) Division. And yes, I'll try to score it.