There is no bigger day in our calendar than the Gecko Sixes. Saturday 10 June was the date this time around, and the Committee were hugely excited for this edition of our charity’s flagship event. While there had been some rain earlier in the week, we were treated to a day of glorious sunshine on the Saturday itself. So glorious in fact that we had some poor sunburnt souls on the Sunday, but a price worth paying for a proper day of sunshine at the Sixes.
The tournament is a celebration of how we think cricket should be played: everyone being able to take part with a smile on their face and a bat in their hands. The format has been honed over the best part of the last decade, with 6 players (including at least one girl) on a each side and 5 over innings (each over bowled by someone different). The ball is soft and the boundaries are short. We even had some new touches this year, using markers to measure out wides and run-ups. It’s all about making the tournament as accessible and fun as we can. And just as importantly, it’s also all about the food. The usual selection of Sri Lankan short eats were devoured by the hungry masses. The introduction of Kotthu Rotti was a particular hit, and people came back for bowl after bowl.
So, to the cricket. This year’s edition had 12 teams – another great turn-out. They split into 3 groups of 4 in the first round. We saw lots of fantastic cricket in the group stages, and that got us to our quarter-finals. The top 2 from each group qualified automatically, with the next two lucky losers (based on net run-rate) making up a truly exciting final 8 in the quarters.
Team Lux edged past Team Madu. Team Ham saw off Team Abi. Team Yovaan eliminated last year’s champions Team Arun and Team Manthi eased through at the expense of Team Del. That left 4 teams for our semi-finals. The first was a clash of real heavyweights and great mates. Perennial contenders Yovaan and Miles took on Lux’s dynamic bowling unit. The result was a fairly comfortable victory for Team Lux, restricting Yov and co. to a manageable total and chasing it down to make the final.
The second semi-final saw the 2015 champions, Team Manthi, facing Ham’s motley (and loud) crew. Manthi’s boys put a strong total on the board, despite a flying caught and bowled from the opposition skipper. This display of hitherto unsuspected athletic prowess was such a surprise that it led to an impromptu pitch invasion and bundle from a number of men in their mid-to-late twenties. There was still a stiff total to chase, and though Ham’s troops had batted well on the day, this time around they were tied down in by a fantastic bowling performance, and Team Manthi deservedly progressed to the final.
So it was Team Lux and Team Manthi – both outstanding teams – who ended up fighting out an incredible final. Team Manthi batted first and the captain got them going nicely before being snaffled by a stunning caught behind. The middle order then kicked on to card an impressive 78 off their 5 overs, a significant total considering it was the final.
However, they were pushed back by a genius batting performance from the classy opener Youhan, who hit it to all parts and kept Team Lux as favourites throughout their chase. The final over came and only 9 runs were needed off the last 6 balls. The tension rose as Lux was dismissed off the first ball. 9 off 5 with a new batsman facing. Dot, 4, dot – a fantastic effort from the bowler. 5 off 2, with the new batsman still facing. More drama as another great ball just passed over the stumps and the batsmen steal a bye. The fielding team appealed for a bowled, but footage from the square leg camera showed the ball just missed the stumps. 4 off 1. Phew. Youhan was back on strike and he dragged the final delivery through midwicket, with the fielders scrambling but unable to prevent the boundary. All over! Team Lux had claimed the title in the most dramatic of circumstances.
It was truly the final that a great day of cricket deserved. And once again, the tournament managed to bring people together to do their bit for a really important cause. We raised a phenomenal £986.36, and we are really grateful for your contributions towards this. This year, the funds will be donated to Chitra Lane, an organisation in Sri Lanka doing a lot of fantastic work in helping local children with special needs.
All that is left for this blog post is to dish out some final thank yous. The tournament was brilliantly planned and executed by Captain Deno and his supporting team of Yas, Madu and others. As ever, we were also indebted to the selfless efforts of the aunties at the food tent and the general support and umpiring of the uncles. Last but not least, thank you to each and every one of you who came along. Another great success – see you next year!