They say every good book or movie should have a dynamic beginning, a solid middle to keep your interest and a surprise and thrilling ending. If the 2008 Americas Division 3 was a movie or book it had the perfect script.
The beginning, days 1 & 2, saw Chile upsetting the two co-favourites on consecutive days beating Belize and Turks & Caicos. The Chile captain, Simon Shalders, with a brilliant century (104) was the hero on the first day. He was back again on day two but this time in a supporting role (69) as he watched countryman Paul Wollocombe take the spotlight with another century (104). Chiles’s third match was against newcomer Peru and it was no surprise going into the rest day. Their perfect record of 3-0 had them comfortably in front, with only struggling Brazil in the path to Division 2. Meanwhile Belize and Turks & Caicos could only try to keep pace and hope for a miracle.
That miracle happened on day 4 when Brazil, led by the skipper Matt Featherstone (152 from 109 balls) posted a massive score of 359 for 6 in their 50 overs.
Chile knew all was at stake and gave it a valiant try again. Led by Shalders (80) the Chileans fell short of capturing the crown by 37 runs. This surprising loss opened up the gates for Belize and Turks & Caicos and set up the most exciting finish ever at an Americas Region tournament.
Day five, the final chapter, and it was all about run rate with Belize playing TCI. In an extraordinary turn of events, three teams – TCI, Belize and Chile - all stood a chance of winning the championship off the final ball of the match. TCI batted first and made 196, Belize were 192 for 9 with one ball to go. Chile had completed the tournament with 12 points, Belize and TCI had 8 and there was 4 on the line for a victory. The latter two had better run rates than Chile.
A six (or 5 runs) on the final delivery would have given Belize the Championship. A four would have given Chile the championship - anything less and TCI would be crowned. Howell Gillett (no rabbit) was on 62 facing the final delivery from TCI skipper Ralph Doughty. (Who wrote this script?). On the final delivery, Gillett’s desperate swing did not make proper contact and resulted in one run being scored and a Turks & Caicos Championship.
Final Table 1st Turks & Caicos Islands 2nd Chile 3rd Belize 4th Peru 5th Brazil
Simon Shalders (Chile) took both Best Batsman and Player-of-the-Tournament awards.
Taken from the ICC Americas regional newsletter for February 2008
Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo