An exemplary performance across the four day tournament, spearheaded by tournament top run scorer and MVP Laurel Parks, meant Colombia surpassed their previous best finish of fourth place from 2015, ‘18 and ‘19.
It was the efforts of the many that made the difference in this tourPaul Reid, Colombia cricket captain
Colombia finished on the podium for the first time in the history of the event behind eventual champions Argentina and runners-up Uruguay.
“Notwithstanding some exceptional performances by the few, it was the efforts of the many that made the difference in this tour,” said Colombia captain Paul Reid.
“We were united — all 16 squad members played in big matches on rotation and all made significant contributions and it seemed like whoever I threw the ball to bowl or asked to pad up and bat was able to find a special performance for the team.”
Colombians show grit to get out of group
Colombia 145-6 (Parks 77) beat Panama 137-3 by eight runs
A new structure for this year’s championships saw a split group stage replace the round-robin format used in previous years, with Colombia drawn in Group B with Uruguay, Brazil and ICC affiliate members Panama. Tournament hosts Argentina, alongside Chile and Mexico, were in Group A.
Seeking to improve on their seventh place finish last year in Rio de Janeiro, Colombia began their campaign in the afternoon of Wednesday 18 October at St. George’s College, Quilmes, by choosing to bat against Panama after winning the toss.
Playing on the artificial pitch number 2, it was a fourth wicket stand of 74 by middle order maestros Parks and Barnes that helped Colombia reach a score of 145-6 off their 20 overs, with top scorer Parks making a fluid 77 off 53 balls including four sixes.
Panama — taking part in their first South American Championships since 2000 — never took the initiative and were chasing the game throughout their innings.
While Panamanian wickets were hard to come by, some tight bowling from Parks, captain Paul Reid and most notably Philip Konceky (0-14 off his four overs) left Panama needing 15 off the final over.
Captain Reid threw the ball to vice captain ‘Impuestos’ Dian Perera to close out, going for just six runs to hand Colombia a notable victory by eight runs against tricky ICC opposition and get their tournament off to the best possible start.
Uruguay 135-4 (Parks 2-15) beat Colombia 132-6 (Barnes 44) by six wickets
The second day of the tournament saw the two winners in Group B from the previous day face each other following Uruguay’s eye-catching win against Brazil.
Losing the toss and being asked to bat first, openers Perera (16) and Salim Patel Gúzman (18) navigated the opening bowling salvo well before two wickets fell in the fifth over to put a check on momentum.
Wicketkeeper Barnes top scored for Colombia with 44, while some loose Uruguayan bowling including 15 wides helped bulk up the total and leave a decent target to defend of 135-4.
Missed chances in the field, however, meant Uruguay’s opening partnership reached 96 before being broken as many thick edges and half chances weren’t capitalised on by the team in yellow.
“God must be Uruguayan” quipped one exasperated Colombian team member; no other batters reached double figures for Uruguay, but the foundation set early on saw them eventually reach the target with 13 balls to spare as they took a commanding lead in the group.
Colombia 140-7 (Parks 57) beat Brazil 139-4 by three wickets
With the two teams both tied on one win and one loss behind undefeated Uruguay, the game on Friday 20 October became a de facto quarter final as Colombia sought to overcome Brazil.
The Brazilian team had been thrown into disarray before a ball had even been bowled in the tournament after one of their key openers was struck on the head during net practice, necessitating a change in their batting order. Perhaps sensing weakness, captain Paul Reid won the toss and elected to send his opponents in to bat first.
While they did not lose wickets and all their batters contributed, an exceptional performance in the field from Colombia — including a run out from Reid and a superb stumping from wicketkeeper Ollie Barnes — meant Brazil ended on 139-4.
A wicket maiden in the first over for Brazil was quickly negated by a fantastic second wicket partnership of 92 between Anshul Sehrawat (42 off 32) and Laurel Parks, who anchored the Colombian innings once again with a wonderful 57 off 47 balls.
Needing 18 off the final four overs and cruising towards their target of 140, the unfortunate departure of Parks sparked a mini collapse, with Colombia slipping from 123-4 to 126-7 with just 11 balls of the innings remaining.
The final over and the epitome of ‘squeaky bum time’. With 10 runs still needed, it was left to Haran Manimaran and 14-year-old Jean Paul Wood to deliver.
Facing Brazil’s opening bowlers with a tight fielding set up, a combination of rapid running, ice cool temperament and sensible shots ratcheted up the pressure for both sides.
Needing two off two, the winning run eventually came from a late-called no ball for a high full toss, leading to widespread confusion, then realisation, then pandemonium.
By the barest of margins it was agony for Brazil and ecstasy for Colombia, who edged it at the death to make it through to Saturday morning’s semi-final stage against tournament hosts and Group A winners Argentina.
Semifinal heartache for Colombia, but a chance to make history
Argentina 154-4 (Parks 2-23) beat Colombia 113-9 (Sehrawat 36) by 41 runs
Saturday at St. George’s College was finals day and a packed schedule saw the semi-final between Colombia and Argentina begin at 9am on pitch 1 — Colombia’s first of the tournament on a grass wicket.
After asking Argentina to bat first, a great catch in the deep for John Paul Wood off Parks’ bowling had one of the Argentine openers depart for a silver duck.
Despite a strong powerplay, some economical bowling from Colombia — including captain Paul Reid’s three overs going for just 11 runs — had Argentina reach the halfway mark of the innings at 62-1.
However, the second wicket eluded Colombia and a 109 partnership had Argentina looking at an imposing total. Just as it was looking to get away from them, three quick wickets fell in nine balls to wrestle momentum back Colombia’s way.
One final slog from Argentina had them snatch 27 off the final two overs, ending on 154-4 and handing Colombia the challenge of knocking off their biggest target of the tournament to reach the final.
A tactical tweak to the batting order meant Colombia started their innings planning to leave their big hitting batters to later in the innings to target Argentina’s change bowlers.
However, rapid opening bowling and good field placement had Colombia struggle to keep up the scoring rate early on, and by the time the first wicket fell at the start of the seventh over they had just 24 runs on the board.
The big middle order hitters came and went for Colombia, with regular wickets falling as they valiantly tried to get on top of the required run rate.
While newly-promoted opener Anshul Sehrawat made an elegant 36 off 26 before being run out after nudging the ball to cover, by the end of the innings Colombia had fallen short by the matter of 41 runs against a highly organised Argentina side, with only Sehrawat, Parks and Reid making double figures.
With Argentina heading to the final as they sought to make it a hat trick of titles at the Championships, Colombia dropped into the 3rd place playoff match, knowing that a win there would still provide the nation with their best ever showing in any international level cricket competition to date.
Colombia show composure to clinch historic consolation
Colombia 177-5 (Parks 80, Barnes 64) beat Mexico 170-6 (Perera 2-26) by seven runs
Colombia found themselves playing definitely-not-South-American Mexico in their final match of the tournament, who had been humiliated in their semi-final against Uruguay by being skittled for just 67 runs in a five wicket loss.
Batting first in the 3rd/4th playoff in the afternoon of Saturday 22 October, Colombia found themselves in trouble at 10 for 3 before a robust fourth wicket partnership of 112 from Oliver Barnes (64 off 44) and Parks (80 from 45) helped them reach 177-5.
This was Parks and Barnes’ fourth partnership of the tournament, collectively combining for 237 when together at the crease and evidently saving their best effort for last.
Furthermore with his 80 — his third half century of the tournament — Parks firmly cemented himself as the tournament’s top run scorer with 255 runs across the five matches. This was more than 100 ahead of second place, which fortunately for Colombia was batting partner Barnes (147 runs).
In response Mexico stayed ahead of the required run rate until the 17th over of their innings, with each of the top six contributing handily. However, while Colombia’s scoring rate had grown as their innings progressed — including taking 52 runs off the final four overs — Mexico’s then stagnated.
Needing to defend 16 off the final over, some tight bowling from Parks at the death as well as a run-out restricted Mexico to 170-6, seven short of the target and handing victory to a rapturous Colombia in what was the highest scoring match of the entire tournament.
This result capped a remarkable performance from a team that were definite underdogs on paper in nearly all their matches, playing in a tournament where half the teams were official ICC affiliate members and with much more robust domestic cricketing infrastructure.
In the end it was Argentina who defended their title against Uruguay in the final with a 34 run victory and seal their record-extending 12th trophy.
And it was Laurel Parks (who else?) who was awarded the Most Valuable Player award for his outstanding contributions with bat and ball across all matches.
“We could have won the whole thing and only commiserate ourselves with an all-time best placing of third,” said captain Paul Reid following the match.
“Beware the competition,” he warned, “next year Colombia comes to finish the job!”
Get involved with cricket in Colombia
Colombia cricket is seeking to build on the success of the 2023 South American Championship and is always looking for new players to get involved in growing the sport throughout the country.
All levels are welcome.
To get involved, follow @cricketcolombia on Instagram and drop a DM to find out more about what is coming up.
Paul Reid (c); Dian Perera (vc); Oliver Barnes; Thomas Donegan; Salim Guzman; Philip Konecny; Haran Manimaran; Laurel Parks; Christopher Price; Kartik Radhakrishnan; Satnam Sandhu; Anshul Sehrawat; Srinivasan Seshadri; Pravin Shamdasani; Niroshan Sirisena; Jean Paul Wood.
Top Run Scorers (COL)
Laurel Parks – 255 (Ave. 85; SR 144.9; HS 80; 3 x 50)
Oliver Barnes – 147 (Ave. 36.75; SR 117.6; HS 64; 1 x 50)
N.B. Parks and Barnes were the top two highest run scorers in the whole tournament.
Top Wicket Takers (COL)
Laurel Parks – 6 wickets (Ave. 22; Economy 6.60)
Dian Perera – 3 wickets (Ave. 43.67; Economy 7.28)
Tournament MVP – Laurel Parks