Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan didn’t start thinking about introducing Assembly Bill 3388 last month when 12-year-old Steven Domalewski, of Wayne, was struck in the chest with a batted ball. But the unfortunate incident, which resulted in Domalewski suffering a near-fatal disruption of his heart’s electrical system that caused his heart to stop, sending him into a coma, certainly got the ball rolling on the proposed legislation. “My disdain for aluminum bats began while watching my daughters grow up playing softball, and cringing – along with other parents – at every metal-bat-propelled line drive hit back up the middle. The near-death of Steven Domalewski was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of my introducing the wood-bat legislation. “The speed at which a ball comes off an aluminum bat can be so great that the reaction time for a pitcher to protect himself or herself is reduced to almost zero,” added Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “We cannot protect every player against on-field injury, but we can correct a balance of power that has swung disproportionately in favor of hitters using increasingly lethal bats.” In introducing his bill, which states that between 1991 and 2001, 15 players were killed by balls from bats determined to be made of nonwood aluminum while only two incidents involved bats made of wood, Diegnan has done some homework, citing studies that back up his claims that aluminum bats pose a greater risk than wood ones do. In a press release introducing the measure, Diegnan cited a 2002 study conducted by researchers at Brown University in Rhode Island that showed the differential in the speed of baseballs from metal bats compared to wood bats. The research, according to Diegnan, measured the speed of a ball hit off the fastest metal bat at 93.3 mph; the average speed achieved by the slowest wood model was 86.1 mph. Overall, only 2 percent of balls hit with a wood bat exceeded 100 mph as opposed to 37 percent of the hits off metal bats. “Physicists attribute the increase in ball speeds to the fact that a metal bat warps slightly when contact is made with a baseball (a phenomenon often called the ‘trampoline effect’),” Diegnan’s press release stated. “As the ball leaves the bat, the rebounding metal pushes the ball as it moves outward, increasing its velocity. When a baseball hits a rigid wood bat, it is the ball that warps slightly, forcing a loss in kinetic energy and lowering the velocity of the hit.” Diegnan says that the slight difference in speed could mean the difference between a pitcher being hit flush or being able to react enough to deflect, or catch, a line drive. According to the research Diegnan cited, fields laid out at Little League standards place pitchers 12 years old and younger 46 feet away from a batter; a line drive hit at 60 mph will reach the pitcher’s mound in only .52 seconds. For a high school pitcher facing a batter 60 feet, 6 inches away, a ball hit at 80 mph also will reach the mound in only .52 seconds. Since a pitcher generally finishes his delivery several feet closer to home plate, reaction time is further reduced. “It can take less than a second from the time a pitcher releases a ball to the time he finds that ball careening straight back,” said Diegnan. “Anything that can lengthen a fielder’s reaction time – even fractionally – can go a long way to preventing a traumatic injury. “The safety of our kids must be our paramount concern,” Diegnan added. “We cannot make baseball – or any sport – totally injury-free, but we can give players tools that can level the playing field for all participants.” Diegnan’s measure, if passed, would be the broadest prohibition on the use of metal baseball bats in the country. Several individual leagues across the nation have begun to remove metal bats from the dugout. Beginning this fall, several school districts in the Illinois High School Association will enter a pilot program to test wood bats at the interscholastic level. The move was forced after a 16-year-old pitcher was left in a coma for 10 days after a line drive off an aluminum bat smashed into the side of his head. All North Dakota high school teams, according to Diegnan, will switch to wood in 2007. Massachusetts’ Catholic Conference high school league has used wood bats since 2003, and the Milford Little League in that state switched from metal bats this year after several coaches voiced concerns over the increasing speed of batted balls. Diegnan noted that advances in the production of wood bats have created equipment that is less prone to breakage and cost a fraction of some high-end aluminum bats. Diegnan said there would be other advantages as well that would come with the switch to wood bats, many of which counter the contention that the switch would adversely affect how New Jersey’s players would be viewed by college scouts, worried about the prospect of the players hitting with and pitching to metal bats for the first time. “Moving to wood bats actually may make New Jersey ballplayers more sought after by major college programs,” Diegnan said. “A metal bat can compensate for offering at a bad pitch, whereas a wood bat does not. Wood bats, with smaller sweet spots and the inability to mask technical problems in a batter’s swing, force hitters to be more selective of the pitches at which to swing. Once metal bats are brought into the equation, the patience and selectivity taught by wood bats pay off. “Massachusetts’ high schools all switched to wood bats in 2004, with some leagues having since reverted back to using aluminum bats,” the assemblyman added. “But the conferences that adhere to wood in the regular season dominate the state tournament, which allows the use of metal bats. As one coach in the Catholic Conference – which has used wood bats exclusively since 2003 – said, ‘When we switch over to aluminum in the post season, it’s like Christmas morning.’ His team was the 2005 state champion. “Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente never knew anything but the ‘crack’ of the bat, and obviously were better players for it,” Diegnan said. “It is my honest belief that all of New Jersey’s aspiring Big Leaguers similarly would benefit.” Diegnan also feels the switch would benefit pitchers, who could be seeing metal bats for the first time at the college level. “To this I would offer the argument of the pro-aluminum bat lobby – balls hit square off the sweet spot of a wood bat can travel as fast as those off some aluminum bats. All pitchers know the risk of a hot shot back through the box, regardless of the type of bat the hitter is holding. Hopefully, these pitchers also would have coaches teaching them the mechanics to end their follow-through in a proper defensive position.” As far as a timeline for the bill, Diegnan said he has been told it will be among the first measures to go under consideration when the state Assembly gets back in session next month. “It will have to go through committee, and I’m moving along an outline that it could be sent to the Senate by Thanksgiving,” he said. “My goal is by Christmas, this will be a law, so that it will be in place for next year’s seasons. “It’s time to do away with the hollow ‘ping’ and the increased risk of injury aluminum bats brought to New Jersey’s ball fields,” he concluded.
BY TIM MORRISStaff Writer The Brookdale men’s basketball team is young and searching for an identity. Head coach Paul Cisek has loaded up his non-Garden State Athletic Conference and Region XIX schedule so that his team will be prepared to make a run at a Region championship in late February when it’s tournament time. The Blues are off to a solid start with a team that is starting three freshmen. As would be expected from a young team, inconsistency and mistakes have slowed the team down. “We’ve not played as well as we’re capable of,” said Cisek. “We’re very athletic and we have some size. We’re young and we’re making young mistakes. “We have all the pieces, it’s a matter of us jelling,” he added. Cisek pointed to three factors for the slow start: first, turnovers; the team isn’t taking care of the ball well and that can be attributed to three new faces in the starting lineup and early-season injuries. Second, a lack of defensive rebounding. And finally, the team hasn’t gotten an identity yet. One thing the Blues have done well is use their overall athleticism to play strong on the defensive end. “We’re playing pretty good defense,” said Cisek. “I’m a man-to-man defensive guy and we’ve been able use traps out of it and play a little full-court.” The foundation of the 2006-07 Jersey Blues is returning standout Jed Marquez (Jackson). An All-American candidate who was First Team All-Garden State Athletic Conference and All-Region XIX last year, the 6-2 guard does it all at both ends of the floor as a scorer and rebounder. “He’s playing like an All-American,” said Cisek. Derrick Truesdale (Passaic), a 6-3 forward, is the other sophomore in the starting lineup. The Blues look to him for defense and rebounding and an inside presence on offense. Freshman John Guzman (Rutherford) is the starting point guard, and the other members of the freshman class in the starting lineup are forward Chris Brown (Newark Science), who at 6-5 is looked to to clean the glass, and slashing swing player Rashad Stephens (Passaic). “We have good balance with our starting lineup and we have depth,” said Cisek. Mike Doherty (Mater Dei) and Javonn McCluney (Hillside) are freshmen who are contributing and adding depth. Two other newcomers who have contributed to the team’s athleticism are 6-5 Owen McPherson (Franklin) and 6-6 Anthony Dunaway (Freehold Borough). Two returners, Sean Carter (Freehold Borough) a 6-2 forward, and Kevin Fallon (Roselle Park), a 6-1 guard, have been injured and are just returning to the lineup. They had solid freshman seasons, and having them back will help the team jell and come up with an identity. Freshman Thenegard Fils-Aime (Rahway), who can provide a scoring punch and another point guard to the team, has missed time with a broken finger. Rounding out the 2006-07 Jersey Blues are guards Theo Fujita-Lukachyk (Middletown North), Leon Norman (Monmouth Regional) and Devin Parkins (Franklin). Brookdale was picked to finish second behind Passaic in the GSAC North Division this winter. Cisek has set the bar high for the team and believes that the talent is there to be a serious contender not only for the GSAC, but the Region as well. “I have very high expectations for this team,” he remarked. “It can win the Region if it wants to work for it.” After hosting its Invitational this past weekend, the Blues are home for games with Union (Dec. 14, 7 p.m.) and Ocean (Dec. 16, 1 p.m.). Brookdale will close the year out in Florida in a tournament at Polk Community College. The Blues’ next home game is not until Jan. 9 and it will be a big one, against preseason division pick Passaic, at 8 p.m. BY TIM MORRIS Staff Writer Brookdale picked to finish second in GSAC North Division
Above: Middletown South’s Jillian Gannon (r) is guarded by Freehold Township’s Jenna Colicchia during their game on Dec. 20. Below: South’s Katie McFarland (14) and Vanessa Ward (42) defend as Freehold Township’s Cristina Barthel (5) tries to go to the basket during South’s 58-35 win. Gannon finished with 13 points, while Barthel led her team with 15. PHOTOS BY DANIEL HULSHIZER staff
Rutgers University-Newark will run its 10th annual summer basketball programfor children ages 7 to 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 11-15, July 25- 29, and Aug. 1-5. Early drop-off and late pickup times and discount rates are available. For information or a brochure, call Joe Loughran at 973-353-1483.
BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Teams will play at Prudential Center on Jan. 21 Middletown South Middletown South High School’s hockey team has withstood a rash of injuries and Middletown North High School is grooming a rebuilt lineup as both teams hover around .500 heading into the heart of their schedules.That includes the first of two showdowns between the two teams at the Prudential Center at 10 a.m. Jan. 21.Senior defenseman Jim Burns was diagnosed with Lyme disease, which he contracted back in the summer but it surfaced last month. He and senior co-captain Tyler Ralph, a forward out for the past few weeks with a concussion, may be back in time for two big back-to-back Shore Conference A North games: against Red Bank Catholic 4:30 p.m. Jan. 8 and Christian Brothers Academy 3:30 p.m. the following day, both at Wall.“We expect to be 90 percent by then,” Middletown South coach Stanley Gutt said. “We expect them to be ready. We’ll use quick, short shifts.”Add to that senior defenseman Brian Walsh out with tendonitis in his hamstring and it’s been an uphill climb just to get to a 5-4 record at the holiday break. It’s an unexpected dilemma for a team with high expectations loaded with experienced players. The only key players lost to graduation were goalie Chris Morsillo and forward Jason Zimmel, who helped the Eagles to the NJSIAA Public B state finals, losing to Chatham, 7-3, in an 18-6-2 season.“I’m very proud of how they came out of this. Alot of guys were stepping up,” said Burns.“We really don’t know how good we are this year until we get everybody back,” said Ralph. “With us out, the hitting has been down because the captains have to get them pumped up for that. They could use our leadership.”Also just back for the last three games is senior defenseman Matt Littenberg, who has been out with illness. Middletown North “It’s tough being down four seniors, and we’ve been playing with two or three defensemen and one is in his first season playing varsity hockey,” Gutt said. Dan Wotjich, new to the varsity, has been a “big surprise” to Gutt. “He’s helped us tremendously.”Juniors Cole Ditzel, another varsity newcomer, and Matt Himmelberg have been solid on defense, and sophomore Nick Malvasi is learning along the way in his first year on varsity. All have provided support for new goalie Shubie Bose, a senior who was a backup last season.“I think our goalies have kept us in games over the years, and Shubie can do it as well,” Burns said. The Eagles come off a gritty showing in the Bridgewater Sports Arena Tournament, where they beat Montville, 5-1, behind senior center Chris Connor’s four goals, and then suffered a 4-2 loss to Ridge. A tying goal by Zach England was called back with five minutes left when the referees ruled it was kicked off his skate into the net, although Gutt claimed it was a slap shot by his player. Ridge added an empty-net goal late in the game. Middletown South in the tournament then had a flat 4-2 loss to Howell, a team that the Eagles had beaten, 4-1, a week earlier.Despite the shorthanded defense, Gutt said his concerns are more on the other end of the rink.“We’re getting shots but missing the net,” said the coach. “They’ve done a good job of setting up shots, and I’m happy with the defense.”Along with the first line shift of Connor, England and senior Bill Murphy, senior Steve Sangermano provides good depth along with freshmen Drew Brace and Wes Friberg, who Gutt said have been a surprise. “They have a lot of speed and play their positions and know what they need to do to win, coming from a good youth program in the Red Bank Generals,” Gutt said.As injured and ill players returned to practice this week, confidence has visibly grown on the team.“It’s sticking to the system and making the plays and being sure we do the simple stuff,” Burns said . Ralph said the team wants to go further in the Shore Conference than last year, when it lost its opener to Howell, and to do well inShore ConferenceASouth. It also wants to play better this weekend against CBA than when it lost to the Colts, 7-2, last month. Middletown South held a 1-0 lead after one period.“We want to go farther in the Shore Conference than losing the first game to Howell, and as for states, we have to play that like last year— one game at a time,” Ralph said. M iddletown North shows favorable signs at 3-4-1 with a young lineup under Matt Clemente, elevated from assistant to head coach when Neil Leone stepped down in October to take an assistant principal’s position that would not allow him the opportunity to coach at the same time. Eight players graduated from last season’s 9-12-1 team that included goalie Kevin Perrett and forwards Anthony DeCicco and Dave Hughes. It comes off a 1-1-1 showing in the Bridgewater Tournament, beating Mount Olive, losing to Roxbury and tying West Windsor-Plainsboro North. “We’re learning as we go,” said Clemente. “Older guys have been carrying the play for us, but as the year goes along, the young guys should step up and pick it up. It’s hard for them because they’re playing competition now that is a step or two faster than what they’ve played before. They’ve been thrown right into the fire.”One of them — freshman Craig Evans — has responded well by leading the team in scoring with seven goals.“Some players we had heard of, but he was a surprise to us,” Clemente said of Evans. “He’s not scared of contact and goes to the net with skill, and he reads the play well.”Tom Terranova, another freshman, has five goals, and sophomore Scott Huber is making strides at forward, where he played a little last season.Junior goalie Brendan Lipari has two shutouts. He has gotten effective support from junior captain James Felice, who has gotten a lot of playing experience on highlevel travel programs, and senior assistant captain Frankie Rodriguez as well as seniors Connor Hall and Joe Dickinson.“We’ll sink or swim with him [Lipari],” Clemente said. “He’s a natural athlete who plays the position, but his lack of experience leads to mistakes.”Lipari’s twin brother, Andrew, is out until late January because of a concussion. He plays center. Senior Jay Kirth, who had been expected to play a prominent role both at forward and defense, is out for the season with a knee injury.The Lions resumed their schedule on Jan. 3 against St. John Vianney and play Monsignor Donovan on Jan. 6 and Brick Township on Jan. 8.“We need to learn to win and finish out games,” said Clemente, who said his conference “after the Mennen League is probably the toughest in the state. There’s a lot to like about this team. They’re young guys who have a good hockey IQ and work hard in practices.”There’s depth on defense with junior Brad Buck, sophomore Jack Meyer and freshman Nick Kirth, Jay’s brother.
BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Middletown High School South’s football team returned to familiar territory when it won its state playoff opener, while defending champion Matawan Regional High School was denied the opportunity for a fourth straight trip to the state finals.With both teams competing on the road on Nov. 16 in different enrollment groups brackets in Central Jersey this year, No. 7 seed Middletown South rolled over previously unbeaten No. 2 seed West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South, 40-8, in Group IV behind Jake Ripnick’s four touchdowns.Matawan, which won Central Jersey Group II last year for the second time in three years, lost its Group III opener on Nov. 16 as the No. 5 seed to familiar opponent and No. 4 seed Long Branch High School, 26-3.Keyport High School, the sixth seed in Central Jersey Group I, also went on the road for its state playoff opener on Nov. 17 and fell to No. 3 seed Florence Township Memorial High School, 40-29.Middletown South, which lost its playoff opener last year for the first time in its storied history, roared to a 33-0 lead in the first half, as Ripnick scored his four touchdowns and quarterback Kyle Brey rushed for another. Middletown South plays in the next round at Colts Neck High School in the sectional semifinals on Nov. 30. Middletown South came into its playoff opener off back-to-back losses to Red Bank Catholic High School and Colts Neck.“The seniors especially helped us,” coach Steve Antonucci said, as the Eagles improved to 6-3. “They got a taste of it last year and they responded to getting another chance.”Ripnick, one of the senior leaders, rushed for 88 yards.“We played well with a lot of motivation in the first half, forcing turnovers and recovering two onside kicks,” Antonucci said.Andrew Wisialko caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Brey in the fourth quarter to close the scoring.Before the game against Colts Neck, Middletown South renews its crosstown rivalry against Middletown High School North on Thanksgiving Day at 10:30 a.m.“[Middletown North] has made progress offensively. We have to come out with a good game plan defensively to stop that,” said Antonucci, who reports no serious injuries off the state playoff victory.Matawan, meanwhile, was emphasizing stopping Dwight Clark and he was held to 20 yards rushing. However, other players did the damage, as Long Branch broke away from a 13-3 lead. Both teams played their last game against each other when Long Branch (8-1) pulled out a 24-21 victory on a last second field goal in a showdown for the Shore Conference B North leadership. Along with losing a week to superstorm Sandy, Long Branch had a bye and Matawan lost out on a game when New Brunswick High School was unable to agree to a rescheduling.“We believed that whoever wins the turnover battle wins the game and we had three of them directly related to their points,” said coach John Kaye after his team fell to 5-3. “That’s high school football. You can’t turn it over like that.“We were totally out of synch,” Kaye continued.Along with a 14-yard interception runback for the final touchdown, Matawan fumbled with two minutes left in the first half and Long Branch scored two plays later with a minute left en route to a 13-3 halftime lead. Long Branch quarterback Avry Griffin ran for 10 yards on the first play after the fumble and then completed a pass to running back Deon Williams, who out-jumped a defender for the ball and then ran 35 yards for the crucial 10-point halftime lead. It stayed that way until Griffin broke a 68-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter and shortly after he had the interception runback for the comfortable cushion with nine minutes left. Mike Creamer got Matawan’s points on a 27-yard field goal to make it 6-3 after Long Branch kicked a pair for its first six points. Creamer also missed one in the third quarter from 40 yards out.Matawan closes its season on Nov. 24 in its regular season finale at St. John Vianney High School at 11 a.m.The team loses only eight seniors to graduation after Kaye rebuilt much of this team with young players, but many of those eight players had leading roles, including linebacker Dan Incle, two-way threat John Alston, lead running back Glenn Cross, and linemen Samad Thomas, Stanley Hall and Seamus Weldon.“We feel good about the future of the program and what we’re doing,” said Kaye, who said the emphasis in the final game is defending against St. John’s passing game.Keyport (6-4) received 127 rushing yards and one touchdown from Emanual Martinez against Florence (8-1). Quarterback Alex Thomson completed 11 of his 21 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored on a one-yard keeper.Greg Marritnez was on the receiving end of five of Thomson’s passes for 113 yards and one score. Matawan, Keyport fall in first-round games
By Alexander McCowanThe Cyprus national rugby team were thrashed 31-3 by Latvia in Paphos in their European Nations Cup clash on Saturday afternoon. The Moufflons took to the field before a partisan crowd with revenge on their minds after the Latvians ended their world record 24-game winning streak last year. But things started to unravel within minutes as the visitors took a 6-3 lead. Following the sending-off of George Agathocleous, the Latvians dominated. Before the game, coach Paul Shanks had emphasised “it’s about basics,” and that’s where the Moufflons lost it as the Latvians bossed them from the start.The second half was not much better as Latvia dominated and scored at will, with four tries gaining the bonus point.
Arsene Wenger acknowledged Southampton were the sharper team as they crushed Arsenal 4-0 on Saturday but he also blamed the defeat on bad luck and a second goal that should have been disallowed by referee Jonathan Moss.Cuco Martina opened the scoring with a curling long-range effort. Shane Long then added the second goal when the Ireland striker fouled Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny outside the box before getting on the end of Sadio Mane’s right-wing cross.Captain Jose Fonte made it 3-0 with a towering near-post header from a corner in the 55th minute before Long completed the rout in stoppage time.“We lost too many challenges today, they were sharper than us,” manager Wenger told BT Sport after second-placed Arsenal missed a chance to leapfrog Premier League leaders Leicester City.“We were unlucky as well, their first shot on goal went into the bottom corner from the right back and the second goal came after a foul on Koscielny. I don’t take the overall scoreline too much into consideration.”Wenger also described the game as “very, very, very physical” as his Arsenal side remained two points behind Leicester at the top of the table.“In many challenges we were second best and the referee let a lot go as well,” said the Frenchman.“You have to say ‘well done’ to Southampton…they fought for their lives and as soon as they scored the first goal you could see it was going to be a difficult game.”Wenger’s opposite number Ronald Koeman was delighted with mid-table Southampton’s first league victory since they won 1-0 at struggling Sunderland on Nov. 7.“It was a fantastic performance against a good Arsenal team, that’s a big compliment to the players,” said Koeman. “We caused them lots of problems up front through Mane and Long, it was a perfect performance.“Normally I keep criticism of my players inside but sometimes people need to know what the manager is thinking. We showed fantastic belief in everybody and today we showed how good we are if we play at our level.“The second half was far better than the first, there were some good goals and maybe chances to score more,” added Koeman.Both teams are back in action on Monday as Arsenal entertain promoted Bournemouth and Southampton travel to West Ham United.
ALL eyes will be on Sunday’s top of the table clash between AEK and APOEL at the GSZ stadium in Larnaca which could go a long way in deciding the eventual champion for the season. In the relegation scrap, Ethnikos Achnas seem doomed unless they can stage a remarkable comeback, beginning this Sunday against Doxa.More than 5,000 AEK supporters are expected to turn up for the crunch clash against APOEL where a win will see their team overtake the defending champions at the top of the table courtesy of their superior head-to-head recordAEK coach Tomas Christiansen could not stress enough the importance of Sundays fixture, describing it as a ‘final’ in his pre-game press conference, while striker Alves urged all AEK fans to show up at the ground.Christiansen has an almost full squad to choose from and is expected to reunite the defensive partnership of Catala and Murillio, the latter having regained match fitness following a lengthy injury. It will also be the first time that AEK’s winter signing Trickovski will come up against the team where he enjoyed the biggest successes, culminating in the memorable Champions League quarter-final run in 2012.A win for APOEL will give them a six-point advantage over AEK and will put them a step closer to their fourth consecutive championship.APOEL coach Temur Ketsbaia is sweating over the fitness of defender Carlao, a vital cog in the league’s meanest backline. The odds are against the Brazilian and shoul he fail to recover in time Alexandrou is the likely candidate to take his place in an otherwise unchanged team.All three teams below the leaders, Apollon, Omonia and Anorthosis, are battling it out for the remaining European slot, and with just one point separating them a rousing finish is expected. Apollon, who have improved considerably in their last few games will be favourites to overcome Anorthosis in Limassol.With all but one player at his disposal, coach Pedro Emmanuel may ring a few changes but is still expected to maintain a 4-4-2 formation – something that proved so successful in the first two playoff games. The Famagusta team have lost both of their opening playoff matches, and a third will hamper their chances of a top-three finish.Coach Zoran Milinkovic knows that he has to sort out his attack if he is to get anything out of the game. Anorthosis have only managed to score against relegated Enosis in their last four games. In the final top-tier game Omonia are away to Nea Salamina, with Bebe being added to the already long list of injured players for the Nicosia team.Nea Salamina, out of the running for a European slot as they trail to the team above them by 19 point,s have only pride to play for.In the bottom group, Ethnikos Achnas need all three points against Doxa Katokopias to have any hope of retaining their first division status.On the other hand Doxa, who up until recently enjoyed a mid-table position, will want to avoid defeat at all costs as they will be just three points above Ethnikos should they lose. In the final two games, Ermis Aradippou entertain the much improved and unbeaten in the last four games Paphos FC, while the two teams that appear to be safe from relegation, AEL and Aris, meet at the Tsirion in Limassol.Championship GroupSaturday: Apollon vs Anorthosis, Nea Salamina vs Omonia (18.00)Sunday: APOEL vs AEK (18.00)Relegation GroupSunday: Ermis vs Paphos FC, AEL vs Aris, Ethnikos vs Doxa (all at 16.00)
Norman Vanua took his second man of the match award in as many games with a swash buckling 28 runs in 10 balls in the final overs of the game to bag the win for PNG.Afterwards, PNG captain Jack Vare resisted the temptation to sing from the rooftops and, instead, was circumspect following what was surely one of the best moments in PNG’s recent cricketing history.“We came here to play another game of cricket. We wanted to go out there and play to the best of our ability. Our plan was to play simple cricket. With the ball we wanted to bowl good lines and lengths and that’s what we did. We always try to learn every time we play, whether it’s in T20, ODI or four-day cricket so today was another great experience that we can learn from going forward” “We’ve got a good batting line-up and today we didn’t really click. But Norman came out and showed what he can do under pressure. He played very well – I can’t speak highly enough of him – and there were other good performances in the team as well. We will take the positives from this game but we will not look too far ahead. We will just go out the next game and try to do our best again.” Vare-Kevere said.Earlier, Ireland won the toss and elected to bat first in perfect conditions and the PNG bowlers came out all guns blazing. Vanua took the prize wicket of Paul Stirling (1) in his first over before Willie Gavera (3/17) struck twice in his first over and left Ireland rattled at 3/20 after 5 overs.Ireland captain William Porterfield (57*) steadied the innings as wickets fell around him but the PNG bowlers were determined to give the Irish no easy runs. Ireland were eventually restricted to a modest 9/123 from their 20 overs. The PNG Barramundis’ run chase got off to a slow start as openers Tony Ura (6) and Lega Siaka (7) both fell before the third over.Vice captain Assad Vala kept the team in the chase with a run a ball 32 but the Irish bowlers kept striking in the middle overs to put PNG on the back foot with Kila Pala (19), Mahuru Dai (7), Charles Amini (6) falling cheaply.The chase seemed to have run out of steam when Tyrone Kane dismissed Jack Vare (5) and John Reva (2) in the 17th over.However, a late cameo from PNG’s number 9 batsman Norman Vanua smashing a match saving 28 of 10 balls helped PNG stun Ireland with a two wicket victory with 7 balls to spare. The win puts PNG comfortably on second place in their pool as they head over to Dublin to play their remaining 3 matches.In Group A, Ireland is still top with six points but PNG is just one point adrift with three teams – Namibia, Nepal and Hong Kong – level on three points and even Jersey and USA not out of contention for a place in the knock-out stages.The PNG Barramundis will face Nepal on Friday night PNG for their fourth match of the tournament. The match will be broadcast live on Digicel’s TV WAN Sports HD at 19.00 PNG time.The official Cricket PNG hashtag on social media will be #gobarras#wt20q