Jersey retain Division 4 status for first time, but miss out on promotion

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Handed a lifeline in Malaysia on Saturday when rain halted play in their final group game against champions Uganda, the Caesareans returned to face the same opposition on Sunday with modest but realistic chances of climbing up to Division 3.

The tournament’s final day brought drama worthy of any international sporting occasion, but it was not in favour of Jersey, who capitulated after bowling the Ugandans out for 90 runs.

With pre-tournament favourites Denmark suffering a surprise defeat to Vanuatu on Saturday, Neil MacRae’s men could have secured promotion alongside Uganda on net run rate if they had chased down their target inside 37 overs. They finished seven runs short of that goal.

Such was the closeness of the tournament, in the end it was only NRR that saved Jersey from relegation. Denmark held on to promotion by the skin of their teeth – finishing just 0.027 ahead of the hosts on NRR.

‘We fought brilliantly in the first half of the game but unfortunately we just came up short with the bat,’ said head coach MacRae. ‘The players are disappointed that they didn’t manage to chase the total.

‘Having said that it has been a very up-and-down week, the players have given a lot and they’ve ended up staying in the division for the first time ever.

‘We have a lot of positives to work on and have plenty of 50-over cricket in the next couple of years to build up to the next tournament.

‘It’s just not quite our time to get promoted, but they have all done Jersey proud.’

Following a frantic start to the second innings, which featured the loss of opening batsmen Nat Watkins and Jonty Jenner for just eight runs, Harrison Carlyon – on a hat-trick earlier in the day – and Anthony Kay were the only two to pass 20. Player of the tournament Ben Stevens made 12 after helping skittle the Africans out with four wickets for 22 runs.

Cricket Cranes’ captain Roger Mukasa steered his side to a fourth win from five, and the title, with bowling figures of three for seven.

Maintaining Division 4 status for the first time in four attempts will be celebrated, although the heart-ache of finishing outside the top two by such a fine margin may take time to get over.

MacRae added: ‘The players are disappointed because we brought ourselves back to go for promotion, but I think when the dust settles they’ll recognise that they’ve achieved something a Jersey side hasn’t achieved before.’

Discussing Stevens’ election as the tournament’s top performer, he said: ‘Ben has been exceptional throughout, and it [the award] is thoroughly deserved.

‘He was our standout performer with bat and ball and he’s really shown his class. It has been great having him back after he missed the last Division 4 tournament [in 2016].’

On Saturday, Jersey stole a replay – and a second chance at promotion – when on the road to defeat, as umpires ended the initial contest versus Uganda just two balls short of what would have been an official match-length. The teams were forced off by yet another thunderous downpour and could not resume before the late-afternoon cut-off point.

Not long before, Jersey appealed heavily for a Carlyon catch which bounced inches before the teenager collected it, and as it turned out the delay caused by that appeal was enough to send the game into a restart. Had there been no appeals from Jersey, those two extra balls needed for a full-length game would probably have been bowled.

Captain Chuggy Perchard would have been breathing a huge sigh of relief after the abandonment, but he was unable to mastermind a reversal of fortunes 24 hours later.

How costly Wednesday’s shock loss to whipping boys Bermuda proved to be.

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