philo-wallace_fc.jpgLAUDERHILL — The new Central Broward Regional Park hosted a tournament like no other in South Florida last weekend.

The “MAQ T20” International Cricket Tournament was in town May 23 to 25 bringing the top present and former 20/20 All Star cricketers together from several parts of the world to compete.

In the competition, both teams have a single inning at bat for a maximum of 20 overs, a format introduced in the international style or format in 2005.

With $75,000 plus as part of the cash prize, the title game brought in a decent crowd of around 500.

In a mild surprise matchup, the West Indies All Stars faced the Canada All Stars. The West Indies squad remained undefeated, winning all their matches over the weekend to take home the championship with 128 runs.

They beat out a Canadian club not expected to reach the final, blanking the Pakistan All Stars and World XI All Stars along the way, but ending with 91 runs.

“Canada put together a nice team,” West Indies right-hander Philo Wallace said afterwards. “Our batting plan worked very well. We played as a team.’’

Left-handed opening batsman Geoff Barnett said he enjoyed the weekend and the reuniting among the players.

“I really enjoyed being here (in South Florida) and being around some of the guys and former stars,” Barnett said in defeat.

Both Barnett and Wallace admitted, however, that there are still growing pains and room for improvement and growth with the tourney.

“In the future, they (the organizers) will learn from everything and it will all run a lot smoother,” Barnett said.

“I believe it (the tournament) has a lot of potential to get better. It is all still in the embryonic stages and definitely has room to grow,” Wallace said.

As one of two major cricket organizations in South Florida, President Jeff Miller of the South Florida Cricket Alliance (SFCA) said that to bring such an event to this part of the state was a big feat, but an exciting one.

“I think this brings a tremendous amount of attention to this sport in South Florida,” Miller said. “Having international cricket here is just the beginning.”

As a player in the sport for over 10 years himself, Miller is a Barbados native and has lived in the U.S. for over 30 years, and in South Florida for 20. He says the hard work by community leaders and residents to publicize the sport has now finally paid off.

“I never thought I would see this kind of thing happen in this country,” Miller revealed. “It has been a dream come true for me.”

Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan said the 16th-century sport can be very appealing in comparison to America’s true pastime.

“People that are really into baseball and the nuances of it I am sure really liked it,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan who plays recreationally says the event is part of continuing development efforts in the future.

“This event and facility were all part of a dream,” he said. “We have finally been able to get a couple of the pieces together.”

Photo by Khary Bruyning. Philo Wallace