Cricket’s Marathon Man

Costa Rica win the Volcano Cup but Miguel still says he's number one.

Costa Rica win the Volcano Cup but Miguel still says he’s number one.

Miguel Villalta is best known in El Salvador as one of the nation’s leading marathon runners. But he has another string to his bow. In a Twenty20 match for his country against Guatemala in March 2014, Villalta scored the first century in El Salvador since the reintroduction of cricket after the civil war. That’s before any of the Indians, Australians or Brits who grew up playing cricket at home – and after running a race in the morning. Occasionally his dedication to both sports has set him back: he had to come in down the order in El Salvador’s opening game of the recent Volcano Cup, against Costa Rica, because he arrived late to the ground after a race.

In December, El Salvador hosted the seventh edition of the Volcano Cup, at the Academica Britanica Cuscatleca, in the shadow of the imposing San Salvador volcano (reassuringly dormant since 1917). The two Backpacking Batters, who just happened to be passing through San Salvador and lodging at a hotel nearby, were delighted to be asked to umpire, and also play for the third side in the tournament, the Globetrotters – a composite team also involving keen cricketers from Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama and Ecuador.

Costa Rica, the only ICC Members in the tournament, won all their games comfortably. But El Salvador deserved great praise for picking a squad with no fewer than eight native Salvadorians, mostly in their early 20s. There was Guillermo “Memo” Estrada, a pacy but wayward left-arm quick, who picked up wickets in every game, and roared in anger when catches went down off his bowling. Lucas Di Mauro took a different approach, nagging away outside off stump with his outswingers – perhaps not so surprising for a man who picked up cricket when at university in Yorkshire. Suffice to say he is the only Salvadorian to become a Headingley regular and do the Otley Run. And he certainly didn’t come across any pupusas served at tea in the Wetherby League. As it turns out, the cheesy corn snack is just what’s needed after toiling at altitude in 32°C heat.

2015 Volcano Cup

At Santa Tecla, December 12. Costa Rica won by seven wickets. El Salvador 90 (C. Don 15*; S. Pillai 2-5, S. Arthur 2-14, D. Sonti 2-14); Costa Rica 91-3 (M. Gupta 32, S. Pillai 26; G. Estrada 2-6). Batsman of the Match: M. Gupta. Bowler of the Match: S. Pillai.

At Santa Tecla, December 12. Costa Rica won by 97 runs. Costa Rica 177-5 (G. Singhdeo 76, M. Gupta 46; S. Singh 3-11); Globetrotters 80 (S. Singh 23, J. Coyne 17; K. Mishra 3-10, D. Sonti 2-2, S. Arthur 2-8). Batsman of the Match: G. Singhdeo. Bowler of the Match: K. Mishra.

At Santa Tecla, December 13. Globetrotters won by 12 runs. Globetrotters 163-4 (R. Alford 74, R. Dalmia 53; S. Pillai 3-23); El Salvador 151 (M. Villalta 25, A. Veer 22; T. Abraham 3-15, M. Tupling 3-23, R. Alford 2-30). Batsman of the Match: R. Alford. Bowler of the Match: T. Abraham.

Final: At Santa Tecla, December 13. Costa Rica won by six wickets. Globetrotters 150-8 (R. Alford 47, T. Abraham 23; S. Arthur 2-18, D. Sonti 2-27, K. Mishra 2-28); Costa Rica 151-4 (G. Singhdeo 48, M. Gupta 39, S. Pillai 18; R. Dalmia 2-32, G. Estrada 2-32). Batsman of the Match: G. Singhdeo. Bowler of the Match: S. Arthur.