In an exciting and closely fought contest between Geneva XI Stars, champions of the west of Switzerland, and Olten Cricket Club, champions of the east, the 2012 SCA final delivered on it's promise of potentially being the most exciting final in recent years. Geneva XI Stars eventually winning by 27 runs.
On Sunday 9th September 2012, and a glorious late summer's day with temperatiures as high as 26˚C, the two two teams assembled just after 11am at En Marche in Cossonay to compete for the ultimate crown in Swiss cricket, SCA league champions.
Thirty minutes before the 12 noon start, junior practice moved to the nets as the final preparations where made under the watchful eye of the two chosen senior swissFOCUS umpires, Imtiaz Ahmed (CERN) and Alex Mackay (Winterthur).
The Olten caption, Sheeraz won the toss and chose to put Geneva XI Stars into bat. Two minutes before 12 noon Alex Mackay called "play" and the 2012 SCA league final began.
The Olten opening bowling attach of K.Prateesh & A.Neyyer got to work quickly, striking as early as the fifth over (12 for 1) Ali Neyyer taking a stunning catch at third man, and again in the 6th, captain Raja Hafeez caught at gully, to leave a stunned Genevan batting line-up on 15 for 2 after 6 overs.
But Asvin Lakkaraju steadied the ship, putting together a 4th wicket partnership worth 35 and taking Geneva XI Stars to 50-3 before being judged caught & bowled from a top edge. The recovery was temporarily halted. With Murali on a hattrick and Geneva XI Stars on 50-4, runs it seemed were hard to come by. This wasn't helped by a stunning fielding performance by Olten, supporting their bowlers and enabling them to take wickets at regular intervals. At 67-7 Ali Saleem came to the the crease and appeared intent on hanging about, which he did. Indeed, the Genevan rookie played a very mature unbeaten innings (43*), that was eventually key in helping him earn the Man of the Match trophy. Geneva eventually finishing their innings after just 32.4 overs on 134.
Was this total defendable? After a superb curry lunch supplied by members of Olten Cricket Club, the Geneva batsman took to the field. They too discovered how difficult it was to score on the new Cossonay surface. After a slow start Ali Saleem struck with a superb leg-break in the fouth over (8-1) and again in the 7th over with an LBW and Asad another bowled one over later. Olten were 15-3 after 8 overs. Two batting partnerships, the 4th wicket worth 33 and the 6th worth exactly 60 put Olten into a commanding position (104-6 off 28 overs). But Olten then lost their remaining 5 wickets for the addition of just 3 runs in 3overs, Ovais (8-2-25-6) ripping through the tail-enders, thanks partly to some more stunning catching, resulting in a victorius Geneva XI Stars and a victory of 26 runs.
In his address to the sparse crowd of players and supporters, the SCA President made reference to the improvemnets made in Swiss cricket over the last 25 years and the emergence of a new postive-thinking generation of cricketers.
After thanking the many people that had made the competition and final possible, Mr. Alexander Mackay called upon, ex-SCA President Mr. John McKillop to award the winners and runners-up medals and present Raja Hafeez the Genevan caption with the winning trophy.
Mr. Imtiaz Ahmed (represnting the officials) presented Ali Saleem with the Man of the Match award, for his all round performance. Ali made an innings of 43, to help Geneva XI Stars score a defendable 1st innings score, took three vital wickets at the beginning of the Olten inngings, and took catch in the field later in the afternoon.
This was another great day in Swiss cricket and one to be remembered!
Click here for the full scorecard.