June 2009 - Posts
A large crowd turned out on June 13th to
celebrate the launch of the 2009 NYPD Cricket season. Police
Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly was there to announce that
this season will be 'bigger and better' with 10 teams competing for the
Twenty/20 Cup. Matches will be played in two locations this year in
Brooklyn and Queens.
a very successful inaugural season in 2008, the league this year will
involve more players, teams and games. The 2009 NYPD Cricket season
will feature 10 teams and roughly 170 players from all five boroughs,
an increase from the 2008 season when 6 teams and 100 players took
The launch included a community celebration for
participants and their families at P.S. 217 in Brooklyn. The NYPD’s
citywide cricket league is in its second season and is administered by
the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau. Players are young men ages 15 to 19.
A majority of those who have signed up to play this summer are of
Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Guyanese descent.
are many ways to measure New York’s diversity: by the languages spoken,
the nationalities represented, the foods we eat, and the sports we
play,” Commissioner Kelly said. “The NYPD youth cricket league
celebrates that diversity, one of the city’s greatest strengths.”
Teams including the Pak Brighton,
Punjab, Tigers, Warriors, Dragons, West Indies Kings, Superstars, and
Knight Riders will begin play on June 23rd and will culminate play with
a championship game on Aug. 25th. The NYPD league uses the twenty/20
format and matches are refereed by New York State certified umpires.
Community Affairs officers conducted outreach through community groups,
youth programs and businesses in the five boroughs; they also promoted
the tournament through local New York adult cricket leagues. The NYPD
Twenty20 Cricket Cup is an extension of the Department's New Immigrant
Outreach initiative that aims to establish positive ongoing relations
with multiple ethnic groups including the Arab and South Asian
Participation for all players is free. The
Police Department provides a professional color uniform kit with a hat,
pants, and jersey as well as t-shirts and hats for the coaches. Coaches
are volunteers. Cricket matches are played in Brooklyn at the Gateway
Cricket Ground in Spring Creek Park and in Kissena Park in Queens.
Click on the link below for NYPD Cricket coverage by New York Times' Stephen Farrell -
York's Cameron Mirza made his county debut for Northamptonshire Under
17's against a South African touring side at Oundle Cricket Club today.
The 15 year-old batsman featured in 50 over Northamptonshire's
Development Team match thanks to an arrangement made by MCI Head Coach,
Pont, a consultant coach to the Northamptonshire professional and
Academy teams, recommended that Mirza get a chance to play whilst he
was in the UK, having worked with the player at DreamCricket Academy's
summer camp last year. It's part of his ongoing development as a player
through MCI and is a wonderful opportunity to experience county age
''It was an amazing day'', said Mirza. ''I batted at number 5 and faced
two really good spinners on a slow, low pitch that offered a huge
amount of turn. The South African side made it hard to score with
accurate bowling and tight field placing and it was a challenge to just
survive for any length of time.''
With the temperature nudging 90 degrees, Northants made just 167 in its
50 overs, which was never going to be enough against a strong touring
team that had previously racked up 350 in the last match. And whilst
Mirza made just 9 runs before getting LBW on a ball that jagged back
sharply, he played a few confident shots including a lovely timed
square cut for 4 and generally looked very composed.
''I am used to the ball coming on to me as an opening bat so facing two
quality spinners the whole time was a real test. But I loved every
minute. And the other lads in the team were fantastic.''
The touring side knocked off the required target with almost 20 overs
to spare and just 4 wickets down. Mirza also got a run out to get rid
of the opening batsman.
Coach Ian Pont said, ''Cameron is a great player and has a lot of
natural talent. Playing in English conditions is hard enough first
time, but he only arrived the day before the match from the US and was
thrown in the deep end. All in all I think he'll add this match into
his memory bank and take the experience away as something very
worthwhile. The Northants players and coaching staff were all impressed
with his attitude and ability. I don't think this is the last time
he'll get asked to play. The first-team pro coach, David Capel also
turned up to watch.''
Mirza plays another match on Wednesday, this time guesting as an
opening bat for the adult team, The South Oxfordshire Amateurs side
against Tring Park CC in Buckinghamshire before flying back to NY on
Thursday July 2nd.
''I can't wait'', said Mirza. ''Every match played here on grass is
such a delight. It's a new challenge for sure, which I hope I can learn
Editor's Note : Ian Pont will be at DreamCricket New Jersey in July to
conduct Summer Camps and workshops. For a schedule of his camps and to
register, go to http://www.dreamcricket.com/dreamcricket/cricketcamps.hspl
The finals of the USA Under 15 Championship that was played on
Sunday, June 28th at the Sheppard Ground in San Jose, California. The
contest, as expected, was between two of the strongest teams in the
country - North West Region and New York.
New York stormed into the final after defeating Atlantic Region on
Saturday by a whopping 151 run margin. Asked to bat first, New York
put on an above-par performance as the entire batting order
contributing to the 226 run total. Five batsmen scored 25 or more
including a 44 ball 35 by Amarnauth Persaud 32 at a strike rate of 100
by Zafaar Ysuf. Rushi Patel of the Atlantic Region, once again, took
the bowling accolades with a 3 for 43 from 8 overs. Shreyan Patel took
2 for 4 from his 2 overs whereas Gauranshu Sharma (1 for 28 from 6) and
Thilina Silva (2 for 29 from 4) and Ryan Persaud (1 for 32 from 8)
shared the spoils. Atlantic Region made heavy weather of their chase
with no batsman getting even double digits - eventually they were all
back in the pavilion with the score reading 75 all out. Amarnauth
Persaud bowled a great spell getting 3 for 13 from 8 overs for New York.
North West had a similarly one-sided contest on its way to the
final. Playing South West, the North West side batted first and scored
226 for 8 in their allotted 40 overs. Arsh Buch played a tremendous
knock scoring 73 runs including 3 hits to the fence. He was supported
by Vikram Valluri (26), Roshan Varadarajan (27) and Imran Nana (21).
North West bowlers just destroyed their opponents who were taken out
for 53 from 33.2 overs. Imran Nana was unplayable with a 3 for 6 from
his 3 over spell. Roshan Varadarajan (2 for 10) and Pranay Pradhan (2
for 16) shared the spoils.
In the final on Sunday, New York won the toss and decided to bat.
After Waqas Shah fell with the score reading 13, Amarnauth Persaud (17)
and Trevis Ross (22) were looking like they were settling in, but they
both fell to Krish Goel. Kwiese Edmondson (25) and Orvindo Singh (15)
restored some stability by adding 41 runs for the 4th wicket, but
Roshan Varadarajan bowled Orvindo out and the rest of the side just
scrambled to give Kwiese company. In the end, New York were all out
for just 109. Bowling for North West, Captain Roshan Varadarajan was
in devastating form taking 4 for 18 from his 8 overs - a performance
which won him the Man of the Match award. Krish Goel excelled with 3
for 15 from his 8 overs.
Getting 110 was not going to be a challenge for the well-oiled
batting machinery of North West. But if New York were celebrating when
Arsh Buch departed early with score still reading 9, that celebration
was short-lived. Arsh's opening partner Vikram Valluri saved his best
for last, scoring 64 not out in the final. He was supported ably by
Zachary Zadoo (21 not out) as they reached the winning score in the
North West were crowned the champions for the second consecutive
time. Speaking to DreamCricket.com, North West Regional Chairman
Hemant Buch said: "It is very very satisfying to see the team that I
have seen grow up in front of my eyes win the tournament for the second
consecutive time. Not only that, these boys also cornered most of the
Thanking the North West coaching staff - Imran Khan and Raj
Badadare, Buch said "The hard work by the regional coaches and the
intensive conditioning camp by CCA Coach Amit Buch has really paid
off. We are also fortunate to have Rakesh Suri as manager of the
"Thanks to NCCA Executive led by Ganesh Sanap and the board led by
Zain Khan for their support with the grounds and logistics. BACA was
also gracious with extending help to the juniors and thanks to BACA led
by Jaswinder Singh."
Fittingly, Hemant's son Arsh Buch was the MVP with 140 runs in 3
games and 4 wickets at a strike of just 3 runs. His opening partner
Vikram Valluri took home the Best Batsman for his 125 runs. Krish Goel
with 9 wickets and an economy rate of 2 per wicket was the Best
Bowler. Imran Nana was outstanding for his side and took the Best
Arsh Buch receives his U-15 MVP Trophy
By Peter Della Penna
Tucked away in a leafy suburb of New
Jersey lives one of America’s best young cricket talents. Chatham
resident Henry Wardley, helped lead the Atlantic Region U-19 team to
the finals of the USACA National U-19 Tournament in Brooklyn this past
May. The 19-year old left-handed opening batsman scored two
half-centuries in three innings during group play, including a Man of
the Match 51 against the New York Region. Not bad for someone who
wasn’t even sure if he should try out for the team.
“From the first day I saw him kind
of knew that he is something special,” said Govind Itwaru, Wardley’s
captain at Excalibur CC in the New Jersey Cricket Association. “Looking
at him batting, it’s beautiful to watch him bat. His stroke play is
unbelievable. It’s not anything you see in the local level of cricket
that we play.”
pushed me to go and tryout for the Atlantic Region and then he said to
definitely go on and play for them because you’ve got a shot,” said
Wardley. “Playing in England, you never really think that you can be
put at any sort of high level because there’s so many other good
cricketers. But he really told me I was good enough.” His success for
the Atlantic Region paved the way for him to be selected as a First
Team All-American and inclusion in the USA U-19 team which will play in
Toronto next month for the U-19 ICC Americas Championship. But cricket
wasn’t necessarily the first sporting passion of the dual American and
While Wardley’s parents were from
Yorkshire in the north of England, he was born in Manhattan and lived
in New Jersey until the age of eight. Growing up in the New York metro
area as the world’s most storied baseball franchise was about to begin
their dynasty of the 1990s, cricket was just about the furthest thing
from his mind.
“He was upset when we left the US
the first time, because we ruined his chances of ever playing for the
Yankees,” said a chuckling Bridget Wardley, Henry’s mother. Wardley’s
father Neil works in financial services and after spending 11 years in
the US, Neil’s work took the family, which includes Henry’s younger
sister Lucy, back to England where they settled in Kent, south of
The American part of Henry was still
resisting a British invasion. Not only did he do his best to maintain a
strong American accent, but he was still keen on baseball. As a
nine-year old, Wardley was a member of the Tonbridge Bobcats U-13
baseball team which won a national championship in England. However,
after a talk with his dad, he started to give in to the idea of playing
“It just wasn’t gonna go anywhere so
my dad suggested I play cricket instead,” said Wardley, in his now
British accent with a bit of a laugh.
When Wardley was 13, he entered
Sevenoaks School, a boarding school in Kent. It was here that he
started to really develop as a cricketer under the tutelage of the
school’s Master in Charge of Cricket, Chris Tavare. Tavare, who played
31 Tests and scored two centuries for England, could tell early on that
Wardley was going to be a talented cricketer, despite his clear style
developed from America’s pastime.
“He was a bit of a baseballer,” said
Tavare, recalling his first observations of Wardley. “He just struck me
as someone who had a really good eye for the ball and although
technically he was quite raw, he could just hit a ball hard and hit
good balls pretty hard too.” Wardley started off at Sevenoaks batting
in the middle order, but after working hard on his batting, he pushed
his way up to become an opener.
“He was keen to improve but we
didn’t overdo it because he was just a natural talent,” said Tavare.
This involved helping to cut out the aerial shots from baseball and
practicing more orthodox cricket strokes. “He was always an aggressive
player and we very much let him play that way. The only difference was
probably trying to get him to hit the ball in a few more areas and hit
it along the ground more consistently, which he started to achieve. He
became a very good driver of the ball, particularly through extra
cover, that sort of area, extra cover to mid off.”
A few years before Wardley graduated
Sevenoaks, his father took up another job opportunity to come back to
America and was going to bring the family back. While Wardley continued
to board at Sevenoaks, the plan was for him come back to New Jersey in
the summer time to be with the family. Neil Wardley knew that it was
important to keep up his son’s cricket skills and get connected with a
“When we came back the second time,
[cricket] was the main objective,” said Neil Wardley. “The first time
he played baseball and the kind of sports that you would as a kid being
born and growing up here.” Neil got into contact with Shelton Glasgow,
the Atlantic Region Representative for USACA, who put him in touch with
Itwaru at Excalibur CC. “So we went one Saturday or Sunday and it was
amazing. They were very welcoming and very friendly and that was it.
Govind took Henry under his wing and he got to play every Saturday and
“When he came to the team, he was 16
and I saw him hit the ball and you couldn’t think a 16 year old could
hit the ball that far and that hard,” said Itwaru. Wardley didn’t stick
out just because of his talent and his age in a team and league of
grizzled veterans. The New Jersey cricket scene has a heavy South Asian
influence, but Henry wasn’t particularly bothered or intimidated.
“Everyone’s pretty friendly, I don’t
find it an issue… the only word I know is ‘shabash,’” said Wardley,
referencing the Hindi/Urdu word for excellent or well done that is
often shouted throughout grounds in central New Jersey on the weekends.
“It’s strange sometimes when I’ll look around a ground where there’s
two or three cricket grounds and I’ll be the only white guy there, but
it doesn’t bother me. I think it’s quite good fun. At Excalibur there’s
always running jokes going. They call me ‘Token.’”
graduating from Sevenoaks and continuing at Excalibur CC last summer,
Wardley found the transition to college life in the fall at McGill
University in Montreal quite a struggle without cricket nearby.
“Unfortunately cricket wasn’t on my
agenda when I chose it,” said Wardley. “There’s a lot of cricket but
it’s so cold up there and you have to travel a long way to get to any
sort of training sessions.” Wardley made some friends and was invited
to go to practice with a club that was 15 metro stops away from McGill
on Montreal’s public transport network. However, there were only so
many trips he could make in below freezing temperatures before he
decided to get creative.
“I got so frustrated with not being
able to play last year,” said Wardley. “We had a long dorm hallway and
I found a road sign and I propped it up against one wall and I got my
friends to come out and I said, ‘I’ve got to play cricket because I’m
getting so frustrated right now. I’ll bowl at you guys.’ So I’d run up
and try and knock their heads off with a taped up tennis ball. I’d get
them out and I’d say, ‘Alright you just throw the ball at me now’ and
that’s how I got my batting practice in.”
The funny and laid back teenager
said that half the battle was trying to make sure no one hit the fire
alarm sprinklers on the ceiling during these makeshift sessions. While
Wardley struggled to get his cricket fix in, he had a source of
marvelous inspiration close by to get him through the first year.
“I love Richie Benaud,” said
Wardley. “I have a little poster above my door in my McGill room and I
feel that every morning when I leave the room he blesses me. It’s from
Wisden Cricketer. I’ve had that above my door everywhere I’ve for the
past three or four years.”
It’s this ever present spirit and
hunger that others see in Wardley that makes him not only a good
player, but a good teammate as well.
“You could sort of sense he had a
real passion for cricket,” said Tavare. “He enjoyed being in the team
with the other guys in the dressing room and having a good laugh as
well, but once he got in the middle he was pretty serious about his
Wardley has kept up his form from
the tournament in Brooklyn and is set to make an impact in Toronto. In
his last match for Excalibur, Wardley scored a 70. The USA U-19 team
leaves on July 1 for a few days of training before their first match on
July 6. Wardley is chomping at the bit to put on the Stars and Stripes.
“I’m psyched to play for them,” said
Wardley. “I can’t wait to represent my country. I bought an American
flag two days ago. When I go to the hotel, I’m gonna put it up outside
the hotel so people know.”
Action picture courtesy: NewYorkCricket.com
Father Ian Smith holds the record for the highest score for a no.9 batsman. He scored 173 off 136 balls including 24 off a hapless Atul Wassan in a match against India at Auckland. New Zealand were reeling at 131 for 7 before his arrival. The wicketkeeper batsman played 63 tests and 98 ODIs before his retirement. He is now a commentator.
Son Jarrod Smith also played cricket, he even captained his school team - the Palmerston North Boys' High, playing alongside Ross Taylor (NZ batsman who plays with Royal Challengers Bangalore).
But Jarrod was also very good at football (i.e. soccer) - the sport he eventually chose over cricket. A soccer scholarship brought him to West Virginia University. He now plays as forward for Seattle Sounders Football Club in addition to play for his country.
According to NZ Herald -
"in a city where cricket barely rates a mention, it has got out that Jarrod Smith is, indeed, 'son of Ian.'"
By Peter Simunovich
When Australia had the great fast bowling pair Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson sharing the new ball in Test matches in the 1970s the wearers of the baggy green cap in those days walked tall and felt relatively confident of winning each contest.
Lillee was known as “Dennis the Menace” and with Thomson they were billed as the “Terrible Twins.” The fans would sometimes taunt the batsmen saying: “If Lillee doesn’t get you, Thommo will.”
Thomson was genuinely quick with an action resembling that of a javelin thrower, but Lillee, who made a remarkable comeback to the Test arena following a career-threatening back injury, was more measured. In his second stint, he moved the ball more and had a vicious cutter.
Imran Awan - USA fast bowler
During the West Indies golden era of cricket, the team boasted a lethal four pronged pace attack with Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Colin Croft. They were a nightmare and opposing captains had limited room for strategy --- try to wear them down and not get hit, was a popular one.
Fast bowlers have an air of authority about them. They can stifle a free stroking batsman and can intimidate with bouncers and some chin music.
In the United States there are some who have been timed around the 90 mph mark.
Imran Awan, 31, who plays with Kensington Cricket Club in the Washington DC Cricket League, was clocked at 95-96 mph in 1996 in a district match when he lived in Pakistan before he moved here in 1997.
He is the longest serving US senior player with 10 years under his belt. Last year he was timed at 90 mph on the Island of Jersey (a British Crown dependency) while playing in a World Cricket League Division 5 tournament. Awan can be deceiving because he has a short 18-step run before delivery.
Aditya Thyagarajan, a US senior side member, described Awan as: “A complete team player. He started off as one of the fastest bowlers in the associate world. Now he bowls at a quick pace, but focuses on line, length and swing. He can be very aggressive and confident and never short of a word for the batsman.” Aditya named Rose as the fastest bowler in the country ahead of Andre Rowe, Imran Awan, Bilal Khan and TimRoy Allen.
"Awan has taken over as the premier fast bowler in the US", US captain Steve Massiah said. “Imran has made an impact in the last 12 months and has a very good yorker," he added. Massiah also has a lot of respect for Franklyn Rose, the former West Indies Test paceman who at 37 can still bowl in the 80 mph range. “He can be pretty sharp. He looks after himself and doesn’t look his age,” he added.
At the domestic level, Rose bowls mostly on the turf wickets of Los Angeles. Massiah said sometimes it was hard to judge the quickest bowler because of the different pitches. “It is a difficult question. The pace can be different because of turf and matting pitches,” he said. “Matting can be a lot faster and in Texas the Astroturf can also be quick, but a turf wicket may not be as fast. It is night and day.”
Imran Khan, who managed the US team last year, said Awan was “the bowling heart of the US. He can move the ball, has fantastic control and possesses a natural aggression that I think God only reserved for the fast men. He is a fighter and has matured into a complete all round bowler.”
Franklyn Rose - Former West Indies bowler. Now lives in USA.
He said Awan was “a captain’s dream who will bowl until he is physically stopped. The best thing I can say about Imran is that I would rather play with him than against him. He is 100 percent a fighter. He is a man who rises to the challenge and that's why he was the highest wicket taker at the Americas Cup. His spells of bowling against World Cup participants Canada and Bermuda were match winning efforts that have not received the recognition and plaudits they deserve.”
Khan said the US will struggle to replace Awan after he retires. He added: “If he played in any Test playing nation he would have made cricket a career.”
Asked who was the most intimidating, Thyagarajan named Rose, saying: “ In addition to pace and bounce, he can seam and cut the ball both ways. He is always intimidating the batsman with chatter backed up with quality!”
He was timed at 95 mph in 2000 in a match against England at Lord’s and says he can still bowl up to 90 mph. “Sadly, the game is not as competitive here,” said Rose, a 19 Test veteran with the West Indies.
“I have been waiting to play for the US for the past three years. I’ve been disappointed. Hopefully, I will be picked. I am still good enough to play at top level.“
Rose himself says Awan is the fastest bowler in the US. Rose said Bilal Khan, Allen and Lee Williams, who plays with Orange County in the Southern California Cricket Association, were players with potential.
Allen, 22, took five wickets for just seven runs against Suriname in an Americas Cup match in December last year.
Khan said Allen was “probably the best young prospect the US has at the moment. He is approaching an age where his mental and physical skills are developing to a level where he can be a cricketer of some caliber. He is not only a fast bowler but is an extremely talented batsman.”
He added that Allen “possesses poster boy qualities and is an exuberant character that lights up any dressing room.”
Khan first noticed Allen at the US trials last October. “Initially very little was known about TimRoy and he actually bowled off spin in the trial matches,” he said.
“Clayton Lambert (a US coach) and I observed at that time his action and approach resembled more of a seamer than of a spinner. The next day we asked him to bowl some seam and he generated some pace, bounce and movement of a decent length and troubled all the top players,” said Khan.
TimRoy Allen took 5 for 7 in USA's match against Suriname
“TimRoy is a tall lad and has a fluid action that helps him get good bounce, movement predominantly away at a decent pace. On debut against Barbados on a flat deck in Georgetown he bowled 10 respectable overs for not many. However, in the next match against Trinidad and Tobago he pulled his groin and was out of it until we geared up for the ICC Americas. In the first game against Suriname he took a phenomenal 5 for7.”
Lambert, a long time student of the game, said Awan was not as quick as he used to be, but said he had developed into a better bowler. “Before he liked to bowl short, now he uses the seam,” he said.
For sheer pace Lambert picks Awan on a lively track and on a flat deck he chose Allen. Asked about Bilal Khan, he said: “He is pure pace,” and Allen “is very quick and can make the batsmen rush their shots.”
Imran Khan said Bilal Khan attended the US trials last year, but missed selection because of his fitness.
“Bilal is as quick as any bowler in the US. On his day I would say there is no quicker bowler playing in the US. It is a shame his fitness has not been to up to the mark. He cleaned up all the top US batsmen at the trials and in the Western Conference Championship last year --- just ask Sushil Nadkarni (ICC Division Five World Player of the Year), Orlando Baker (US team) or Aditya Thygarajan,” said Imran Khan.
“I hope Bilal gets his fitness to the required level because he is one bowler who in tandem with TimRoy and Imran Awan could potentially destroy associate attacks across the world.”
Part 2: Andre Rowe and the ones to keep an eye on.Andre Rowe is a strong looking 6ft. 3in. fast bowler who, according to those who know him, is fairly quiet and reserved. To borrow a well worn cricketing cliché, he lets the leather do the talking and sometimes the willow too.
He has a fluid action and can bowl in the high 80 mph region from a 22-yard run when he represents the Houston West Indies Cricket Club in the Houston Central Cricket League.
Errol Eccles, the captain of the team, says there are no speed guns in the league to accurately time Rowe, but Sean Chapman, the secretary of the league and a player with the Memorial team, said in his broad Australian accent: “He’s pretty bloody lethal.
“He has a good yorker and I know that from personal experience.” Asked if a batsman needed a helmet to face Rowe, Chapman jokingly said: “You need two.”
Chapman, originally from Melbourne, Australia, said Rowe, who moved here from Jamaica in 2003, reminded him of West Indies pacemen Ian Bishop and Patrick Patterson.
“He’s very athletic, fit and quick. He’s a great player for us and a fast track suits him,” said Chapman, adding that the wickets in Houston were synthetic. “Conditions need to suit him --- he needs a fast track.”
Rowe, 25, in his second season in Houston after spending several years in New York, is a typical fast bowler, said Chapman.
“Without a doubt he will do anything to try to take your wicket,” said Chapman. Asked if he tried to intimidate batsmen, he said: “I would say 60 percent of the balls you faced from him are between the neck and throat area.”
Rowe’s strongest weapon is pure pace and the synthetic tracks and hot, humid conditions in Houston suit his style.
Chapman said Rowe had the ability to win selection to represent the United States senior team. He will play for the Central West Region in the Western Conference Championship tournament in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from August 1 to August 3. “We are hopeful he will be selected after the tournament,” he said.
Eccles said Rowe and Franklyn Rose were the fastest in the Central West and Western Regions.
But, said Eccles, the most under estimated part of Rowe’s game was his ability to score runs. Last year he joined the team after the halfway mark of the season and still scored more than 400 runs.
In one 40-over game last year, recalled Eccles, Rowe came to the wicket after 25 overs with the score at five wickets for 90.
Rowe took to the bowling and hammered 12 sixes and 10 fours. He scored an unbeaten 128. “There were sixes and fours all over the place. He didn’t do much running. He can destroy an attack,” said Eccles.
He said that so far this season Rowe had taken 22 wickets in five games, including 6 for 24 last weekend in the match against TCC Spartans Cricket Club. Last year he took 5 for 17 in one game and bagged a bunch of four wickets in others.
Imran Khan, who managed the US senior team last year, is optimistic about the future of fast bowling in the country with the up and coming youngsters.
He named Imran Khan (no relation) with Cougars Cricket Club in the Northern California Cricket Association as one of them. He is a newcomer to US cricket after moving here with his family from Australia.
Khan said he had the potential to play for the US. “He is a left arm fast bowler who swings the ball in and seams it away. He is every bit an Australian in his approach to the game. He is aggressive and has a strong action with a short Wasim Akram style run up,” he said.
“He is as fast as any bowler in the US and the fact that he has played a good level of cricket must make him a contender for a future national spot. His left arm angle is unique and at his pace and with the movement he gets there will not be too many who will survive his initial onslaught with the new ball.”
Another to keep an eye on is Nasir Jamaali, who was recently named in the US Under 19 team to compete in the World Cup qualifiers. A left arm bowler, said Khan, “he is tall with a classical action that generates pace and bounce of a decent length. Still a teenager, he has already shown a lot of promise and his inclusion in the Under 19 team is a sure sign that there are grand things to come.”
Finally, there is 16-year-old Hammad Shaid, who attended selection for the senior side last October. This year he was picked in the national Under 19 squad. Khan said: “His 6ft. 3in. frame is most definitely an aid when it comes to hitting the deck hard.
“Raised on the turf wickets of Woodley Cricket Field in Los Angeles, Hammad may be one of only a handful of bowlers in the US who have played a majority of their cricket on turf wickets. He is young, has a smooth action and is fit. If he continues to mature, learn and concentrate on his game then US cricket has a very sound resource coming up for the future.”
Khan said that with the 20/20 format becoming popular and this years ICC T20 dominated by bowlers, the US youngsters may become the first generation of professional cricketers.
Fifth in the DreamCricket.com series on USA's best cricket grounds
Click here for the first, second, third and fourth articles in this series, which explores the best grounds in USA selected on the basis of the ground's setting, the passion that went into creating the ground, and the pitch and outfield quality. If you know of more grounds - private or public - please email us at content @ dreamcricket . com
By Peter Simunovich
David Sentance has a deep and strong relationship with the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex also known as the Woodley Cricket Field in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley, about 20 miles from Los Angeles in California. He fondly talks about the lush grass and how batsmen can play their full range of shots on four natural turf pitches with large outfields that best serve medium fast and spin bowlers.
Sentance, a 57-year-old investment firm owner, proudly boasts how Woodley Cricket Field can host four matches each Saturday and Sunday over summer and up to eight games if the schedule has T20 games.
For the past 33 years he has been involved in cricket in the Los Angeles area since he moved there from England and is somewhat of a historian about the game and Woodley Cricket Field, which is acknowledged as the best in the US.
"The ground is just so beautiful," Sentance told DreamCricket.com. "It is dedicated to cricket and no other sport is played there."
Fast bowler Franklyn Rose, who played 19 Tests with the West Indies and now plays with Corinthians Cricket Club in the Southern California Cricket Association, also has a strong affiliation for Woodley Cricket Field.
He said: "It has the best cricket field facilities in the US. There is no comparison. I have played around the world and it is first class. It is good for batting and bowling. If you are good enough you will get runs and wickets."
Steve Massiah, the US senior captain, also has a soft spot for the field. He said: "Woodley is really good for batting and has wonderful pitches. I have scored a century and quite a few 50s there. The wickets are very conducive for batsmen and there is something for the bowlers.
"It is a beautiful field and I strongly endorse it."
Carl McGroggan, the secretary of the Southern California Cricket Association and an all-rounder with the British and Dominion Cricket Club, which plays at Woodley Cricket Field, said the fields were very well maintained. He said David Heaney, a grounds man from Adelaide, Australia, was flown in each year to work full time at the field from March to September to make sure it had the best surface in the country.
Woodley Cricket Field, which is the home field for 20 teams, said McGroggan, had the feel of a district cricket club in Australia. It has a small stand, which can seat 50 and a clubhouse with bathrooms.
Sentance said that Woodley Cricket Field would be complete if it had the same pavilion at Griffith Park in Burbank where cricket was played before.
The old Griffith Park pavilion is now used for wedding receptions. Cricket was played at Griffith Park on a turf wicket with a matting cover from 1933 to 1978 and the one-floor 2,000 sq. ft. pavilion was well maintained with showers, lockers, a clock tower, a verandah to watch the matches. It had two fields and a practice area, said Sentance. There was also a courtyard behind the pavilion, which housed mowers and other machinery to keep the field in grade one condition.
"It was a very exciting facility with the Union Jack flying high," he said.
In the 1930s, acknowledged as the golden era of Hollywood, some of entertainment's A list headed by Boris Karloff, Merle Oberon, Olivia de Havilland, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, John and Lionel Barrymore, Errol Flynn and Elsa Lanchester would watch cricket at Griffith Park. "Back then it was a place to be seen," said Sentance.
And in those days Griffith Field was surrounded by stables for horses taking part in equestrian events.
In 1978, said Sentance, the equestrian fraternity wanted to take over the Griffith Park field. Part of the reason was the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and equestrian events and polo were on the drawing boards to be held in the immediate area.
The cricket family strongly objected to the move and for two years, said Sentance, negotiations took place with local council authorities before it was decided that the game could move to what is now Woodley Cricket Field.
It took another four years for trees to be removed and the field to be laid properly for cricket. The game, however, did not miss a beat with matches still being played at Griffith Field and at the University of California at Los Angeles.
In 1980, Sentance recalled, there was an opening day at Woodley Field with boy scouts taking part.
The cricket complex is named after Leo "Jingles" Magnus, the former Jamaican cricketer who played for Southern California, coached Compton Cricket Club and spent a lifetime making contributions to the sport he loved. The field is also called Woodley cricket field because of the street it is on.
The late Claude Worrell, an attorney, played a lead role during this time in securing a new home for cricket. Sentance said that Worrell worked hard and he would strongly endorse any move to have his efforts remembered in some capacity.
India and Australia played four limited over matches at Woodley Cricket Field in 1999 and attracted 5,000 for one game.
Over the years Woodley Cricket Field and Griffith Park have hosted Australia and India international teams, English County sides, Canada, New Zealand and top Pakistan and West Indies club teams.
Woodley Field may not have the deep seated tradition of Test venues in cricket playing countries nor does it have the capacity to seat large crowds, but to players and administrators in the US it is a little gem of a field.
"In a way it is our Lord's," said Sentance.
Copyrights for all Pictures held by Dwight McCann. DreamCricket has used these with his permission.
Joseph O'Neill, author of the bestselling novel "Netherland," says that
T20 is "a kind of home run derby" -- his tone making it clear that he
doesn't think much of either T20 or home run derbies.
Conversely, when Mr. Lockerbie, who dreams of bringing T20 to America,
calls it "home run derby meets running bases," he means that as a good
Read more in today's Wall Street Journal.
It was the second field in Brooklyn dedicated only to cricket, only the second match played on this field, and the second 20/20 game Sunday to end in a close and thrilling finish (after India lost to England) and in its second year, it was the Finals of the New York City Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) Cricket.
Newcomers HS make it two in a row
New york City is setting the tone for USA Cricket with the first High school League finishing its second season at a brand new cricket ground opened just the day before at Canarsie Park in Brooklyn.
For the second year the two finalists were Newcomers High School and John Adams High School. The names of the schools by themselves telling a story of American Cricket - Newcomers HS is a school focusing on recent immigrants, many of whom are bringing their love for cricket to the US, whilst John Adams HS carries the name of one of our Founding Fathers, and 2nd President, who like many eary Americans played cricket and even discussed it in the context of the constitution.
The weather was beautiful, rain was predicted but never threatened. A cool breeze and 70 F degree temperature made it ideal to play cricket. The outfield was slow as rain had made the outfield grass a bit thick. The newness of the turf meant it could not be cut, so the batsmen knew runs would be hard to come by along the ground.
It was good tactics then for the John Adams' HS Captain Thakur Singh to send in Newcomers to bat when he won the toss. However Newcomers HS, as their Captain Robin Das said, "won every time we batted first".
To the surprise of many, Newcomers HS was soon in trouble, a mixup between the openers, Nurus Salam and Rayhan Ahmed left Ahmed without a home, and he was run out. Nicholas Ramrattan (3 overs, 4 runs, 1 W), Troy Mars (3 overs, 9 runs, 1 W ) and Sharma Sukdeo (3 overs, 11 runs, 1 W) then bowled tight and effective spells, to leave Newcomers HS teetering.
Mars took the all important wicket of Robin Das, the 2009 Highest Aggregate run getter, including 126 in a match against Thomas Edison High School. In 2008 Das had also scored a century. Nurus Salaam (22) and Grazi Rahman (14) couldn't stop what appeared to be a debacle as Newcomers HS struggled to get to 50 whilst losing 7 wickets. However the fall of the 7th wicket brought Mahbubul Chowdury to the wicket to join Mohamad Swappan.
Choudury strode to the wicket with the air of a man who knew what to do, and immediately took charge. A huge off-drive for 6 brought the Newcomers HS bench to their feet, then Chowdury, supremely confident, ignored the man deep on the long-off boundary and went for the same shot, getting 6 more. Another hit to the fence, a four this time, followed. Swappan now saw he had a partner and laid into the bowling as well, pulling 2 sixes over midwicket. The two took the Newcomers HS total to a defendale 111 off their 20 overs. It wasn't that John Adams HS let them off the hook, it was the onslaught of Mahbubul Chowdury that saved Newcomers HS.
Newcomers Captain Robin Das
was best bowler
John Adams HS had seen the chance of getting Newcomers out for a low score slip away but 111 was still well within their reach. However the Newcomers HS opening attack of Robin Das (4 overs,6 runs, 2 W) and Azmain Hussain (4 overs, 15 runs) pinned the opening batsmen, Kristoff Narine and Craig Hugh down. Hussain's energetic runup and athletic delivery helped him generate some pace, whilst Das kept to simple formula of line and length. Both, together with Grazi Rahman (4 overs, 11 runs, 1 W) kept it tight, and the required run rate crept up to 9 runs per over. John Adams HS could feel the game slipping away. To make matters worse Rayhan Ahmed took the game into his own hands, taking a catch and getting 2 wickets with his bowling (3 overs, 19 runs, 2 W).
Captain Thakur Singh was still at the crease but the John Adams High School batsmen couldn't find the boundary and the team was reeling. The new batsman Troy Mars then gave his team hope, driving over midwicket for 6. Another 6 and a 4 followed. The slow outfield was not giving up boundaries along the ground but Mars brought his team back into the game, whilst his Captain held down the other end. It began to look as though Newcomers HS, after dropping Mars, would pay dearly. But the Das repaid Mars for taking his wicket, by clean bowling the ebullient Mars.
Thakur Singh then tried to take over the big-hitting role,went down the wicket and was stumped. The remaining batsmen, struggling to find the boundary, played intelligent cricket by taking the singles, and hurried 2's. Excellent fielding by Newcomers High School made this dangerous though, and 2 run-outs made it a really close game. Captain Das, shrewdly had left himself to bowl the final over, and with John Adams High School needing 11 to win Das bowled well and ensured Newcomers High School won by 5 runs.
Newcomers Captain receives award from Bassett Thompson, Commissioner of the PSAL Cricket League and Donald Douglas, Director of the PSAL
After the match Awards were presented to Robin Das (Best Bowler), Troy Mars (Best Batsman) and Match MVP Mahbubul Chowdury. John Adams HS Coach Alex Navarrette and a clearly disappointed Captain Thakur Singh accepted the Runner Up Trophy and for the second year in a row Newcomers High School took home the Winners Trophy, accepting graciously was Coach Sam Sooppersaud and Captain Robin Das.
Presenting the Awards were key figures in the PSAL, Donald Douglas (Director), Lorna Austin (Coordinator) and Bassett Thompson (Commissioner ), all of whom are helping NYC pioneer school cricket in the US. Also present were Assistant Commissioner Ricky Kissoon, John Aaron,Secretary of the United States Cricket Association (USACA) and Lloyd Jodah, President of American College Cricket. Secretary Aaron was his usual sartorially elegant self and ecstatic at the work being done by the PSAL for High School cricket, American College Cricket's Lloyd Jodah was so moved by the PSAL's cricket efforts and hard work that he offered to the Match MVP Mahbubul Chowdury,a Student Membership to New York Sports Club (the Northeast's top Healthclub).
Newcomers High School won by 5 runs and are the PSAL 2009 Champions.
Article appears courtesy of Lloyd Jodah
Photo credits: Matthew Patel (who turned 12 on Friday)
By Peter Simunovich
Ganesh Sanap, President of NCCA
The Bay Area in Northern California is the home of the San Francisco
Giants baseball and San Francisco 49ers football teams that have
produced Hall of Famers like quarterback Joe Montana and centerfielder
Willie Mays, both acknowledged as all-time greats.
It is also the home of the Northern California Cricket
Association. Established in 1892, it is one of the oldest and largest
cricket regions in the United States.
Right now the NCCA is celebrating the success of the North
West Region's Under 19 win in the recently completed national
NCCA president Ganesh Sanap proudly says that 13 of the 14-man
North West Region squad came from the NCCA, including three of the
players in the national Under 19 All American team. And it was the
second time in four years that the region had won the national title.
Owen Graham, Coach - NCCA
who has a long association with the four-division and 40-team league as
a player, volunteer, administrator and president, says the league's
focus "has always been on youth." The philosophy is that they move up
to a higher level and then pass on their knowledge, experience and tips
to the youngsters. It is the trickle down effect.
But Sanap, 39, a computer developer, does not take all the
backslapping from the success of the junior program in the NCCA. He is
quick to talk about coach Owen Graham. "He has the Midas touch," said
Sanap. "When he played with the Caribbean Cricket Club in the NCCA he
had the most wins as a captain and player. No teams wanted to play
"Owen led the San Francisco Freedom in the professional league
in 2004 and led it to the national championship. He has a very good
Graham, 42, played in semi pro and All Island leagues in the
West Indies as an opening batsman, has a high profile as a coach in the
NCCA, but he praised the administration. "I realize that it gets it
right," he said.
Saad Khan, 19, a No. 4 bat and right arm off spinner, told
DreamCricket.com: "People and coaches put in a lot of effort and work
hard in the NCCA. Ganesh is recruiting players. Owen knows the game,
man. He knows a lot about cricket.
"He's a good guy, has a positive attitude, and works hard with
everyone and gives us confidence. He is available 24/7 and he will
answer any questions."
Saad Khan, NCCA U-19 player
said: "Owen is always talking to players on the 'phone. We are trying
to develop a cricketing brain and keep the Under 19 players together.
The idea is unity and continuity. The players now play in A Division.
It gives them experience and helps out teams when they might be short
Sanap, who moved to the US from Mumbai, India, says the
biggest reason for the youth program is that they players are "like a
band of brothers. They are at each other's home, play as a team, are
united and you will not find too many individuals in the team."
Graham admits: "There is something about me that goes well
with the kids. They have a willingness to learn and I have a love and
passion for the game."
He grew up during the West Indies golden era where he watched
stars like Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner and Andy Roberts
play and he competed against the likes of Jeffrey Dujon, Jimmy Adams
and Courtney Walsh. And to round this off he was coached by top Test
batsman Rohan Kanhai.
Graham tries to teach his players how to understand the game,
be relaxed and poised and to work hard on and off the field.
"Discipline is very important," he says. "Practice hard and do what you
Asked about his successful coaching methods, he said: "I don't
look at it as a moral obligation. I enjoy the teaching and I hope to
create a little legacy. I try to connect with the players, be like a
father figure. I encourage them to play positive and aggressive
cricket. They have good minds."
Saad, who is studying sociology, said his batting and fielding
had improved under Graham's coaching. "He gives me more confidence. He
says not to be afraid of the ball, be confident, be yourself and play
your natural game."
Sarabjit Chadha - NCCA Volunteer
added that Graham encouraged his players to be disciplined, "play by
the rules, be who you are and don't bring anyone or another team down."
One of the unsung heroes in the success of the NCCA is
Sarabjit Chadha, 40, who helped found the East Bay Cricket Club and
still plays as an all-rounder. He said: "All the kids who play in the
Under 19s in the NCCA should be thankful for Ganesh and Owen.
"The NCCA is Ganesh's baby. He works very hard and the kids
get good coaching from Owen. I have watched him coach and he is pretty
A behind the scenes man, Chadha helps in organizing matches,
looks after and develops players and fields, has a thankless job. But
he loves the game and enjoys watching it continually grow.
It is all part of the success of the NCCA.
By Venu Palaparthi
In 1895, the girls from Rosemary Hall, a girls preparatory school founded by Mrs. Caroline Ruutz-Rees of England defeated girls from Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls (popularly known as Pelham Hall) in a cricket match played at Wallingford, Connecticut.
There is no official record of this first ever match but New York Times referred to the victory of Rosemary Hall in the 1895 girls cricket match when the Rosemary girls visited Pelham Hall a year later.
This contest where the winner took home a "light blue banner," became an annual tradition, and is the oldest known interscholastic sporting event for girls in USA for any sport.
Indeed, girls played sports before 1895, but these were intramurals. A basketball match was played between girls of Montclair High and Horace Mann of New York City in 1897. But the Pelham Hall versus Rosemary Hall cricket match preceded both this basketball match and the Girls Interscholastic Athletic League, which was formed in 1900.
In fact, a photo is said to exist in the Pelham Library in a book titled The Pelham Manor Story 1891 - 1991 written by James B. Saunders, who wrote "Young ladies of Mrs. Hazen's School (Pelham Hall) dropped their bat and ball long enough to pose for the photographer before engaging the girls of Rosemary Hall in a serious contest of cricket." Mr. Saunders also wrote, "Results of the game are lost in history."
Mr. Saunders need not have despaired. Thanks to New York Times, there is a more detailed record of the Pelham Hall versus Rosemary Hall inter-school match for 1896, which DreamCricket.com has tracked down.
In a story filed on November 14, 1896, Times noted: The Esplanade lawn at "Prospect Hill was the scene here today of a winter contest of a most unusual kind." The writer was quite taken by the novelty of it all and went on to describe the occasion vividly. "Bareheaded and wearing sweaters and short skirts, daughters of some of the most prominent men in the country defied the cold, wintry wind. With enthusiasm and skill the twenty-two bowled, batted, and fielded. A large crowd, chiefly composed of Pelham's most fashionable folk, witnessed the game. Excitement ran high, for last year the Pelham Hall girls journeyed to Wallingford and were defeated by the Rosemary cricketers. Today the losers on that occasion struggled successfully to win back the light-blue banner they lost in Connecticut."
"The weather, the waving of ribbons and banners, and the college cries would have done justice to a Yale-Harvard football match," the reporter wrote. Rosemary Hall won the toss and put Pelham to bat. With 15 in the first innings and 21 in the second innings, Annie King, captain of Pelham, was the highest scorer on the day. Miss King, the daughter of John King Jr, the Vice President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, also took 7 wickets with the ball. Pelham Hall scored 81 in the first innings and 51 in the second. Rosemary Hall was dismissed for just 26 in the first innings and were defeated by a 69 run margin after they collapsed for 37 in the second innings.
Shouts of "Hurrah, hear us call; Hazen, Hazen, Pelham Hall," were heard around the ground and the blue ribbon was won back by the girls of Pelham Manor.
The contest between the girls of Pelham Hall and Rosemary Hall continued for several years. In 1898, Rosemary Hall hired a women's cricket coach - her name was Mrs. Hulseberg and she was perhaps the first women's cricket coach in USA.
The Pelham Hall, founded by Mrs. Emily John Cunningham Hazen, closed in 1915. Rosemary Hall continues to this day as Choate-Rosemary Hall after its merger with Choate. One way to celebrate their historical achievement by restarting the tradition there.
Pic Courtesy: Choate Rosemary Hall
Mrs. Hazen's School (Pelham Hall)
Picture Courtesy: Blake Bell
By Peter Simunovich
Saami Siddiqui - USA U-19 Wicket Keeper
Saami Siddiqui stands at exactly 6ft. and is unusually tall for a wicketkeeper although over the years there have been great 'keepers like India's Farokh Engineer and Australians Don Tallon and Adam Gilchrist.
The 19-year-old computer science student has a long way to go before he can even be in the same discussion as Gilchrist, Engineer and Tallon, but he has already made a step in the right direction by being named in the US Under 19 All American team.
Saami has good hands, is athletic behind the stumps, talks a lot, gives encouragement to bowlers and fielders and lets his captain know any information he has on batsmen or if he sees something during a match that might help his team.
At 155 lbs. he is considered "pretty skinny" by Saqib Saleem, his teammate and Fremont, California, neighbor, who jokingly added: "He can run all day if you ask him."
Saami has the potential to play at the highest level for the United States, but there is another side to the teenager with the safest hands in Under 19 cricket.
Vinay Suri, his teammate in the North West Region team, told DreamCricket.com: "Saami is really, really honest. He is someone you can trust. He is a leader."
Hemant Buch, the chairman of the Western Region, also likes what he sees of Saami off the field. "He is my favorite player. There are many aspects about him on and off the field. He is the best around among the youth. He is very good at school, a complete player and a good role model."
In an era of illegal drugs, steroids and young professional athletes making millions of dollars a year, Saami, according to those around him is above any controversies.
Saami, who moved to the US in 2000 with his family from Islamabad, Pakistan, has played cricket since he can remember and turned to wicketkeeping when he was 15. Cricket is his No. 1 sport, but he has also dabbled in basketball, cross country running, tennis and volleyball.
Saami Siddiqui - USA U-19 Wicket Keeper. Pic Courtesy: NewYorkCricket.com
When he began wearing the gloves, a friend helped hone his skills by throwing a ball off a heavy roller. "I enjoy the position. It keeps me in the game," he told DreamCricket.com. "You are involved in every minute and every ball. I like the fact that the position is demanding."
Asked why he has had success, Saami modestly says: "I just do what I have been told to do." But he also praises Owen Graham, who works with players in the North West region. "Owen has helped me with the fundamentals of the game."
One of Saami's strengths is the ability to stand over the stumps while taking medium fast bowlers. "It makes it more interesting and places pressure on the batsman," he said. "If I notice that a batsman plays out of his crease then I go up and get him out of his comfort zone."
Saami likes watching Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the India captain and 'keeper, because of his leadership qualities and is a fan of New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, who he says "is really athletic, makes athletic catches and is tidy behind the stumps."
For now, he is not getting ahead of himself and is concentrating on his studies and playing for the national Under 19 team.
Saqib, a batsman and leg spinner, says his friend doesn't drop too many catches or have bad days. "He has good information about batsmen and he passes that on to bowlers. He tells me where to bowl," he said.
Vinay, an opening bat, observed that Saami is a hard worker and stays fit. "Behind the stumps he talks a bit, is always encouraging bowlers and fielders and lets the captain know what he sees about batsmen. He is also a pretty good motivator and passes on his knowledge to others."
Abrar Ahmad, the chief selector of the Under 19 team for the North West Region, described Saami as "very sharp behind the stumps. He moves very quickly."
One of his biggest assets, said Ahmad, was his ability to keep over the stumps for a medium fast bowler. "This puts pressure on the batsmen," he said. "I have been watching Saami for four or five years and he has good hand and eye co-ordination. His potential is very good, sometimes he gets excited, but that is understandable for someone his age."
Abrar said Saami was "very supportive to bowlers, but he could do a bit more to (help) bowlers and captains."
Buch has been watching the rise of Saami for the past six or seven years. "He has very good hands, a good bat and well informed on the abilities of batsmen and always talks with his bowlers," he said and added that the 'keeper moves quickly on both sides of his body. "You donâ€™t see too many 'keepers move that quickly, particularly on the left side."
Buch is an admirer of Saami on and off the field and believes he has the potential to play at the highest level.
If Saami stays in focus, healthy and keeps on improving, then one day he maybe in the same conversation as Tallon, Engineer and Gilchrist, the other tall 'keepers.
Cardinal Gibbons High School
the first time, an American school and an Australian school have
embarked on a "brother programs" initiative designed to promote cricket
and exchange techniques between the schools and its cricketers. The
schools will share pen pals, cricket info, resource development,
coaching info, and even tips for proper grounds maintenance. The
schools were put in touch with each other by Rebecca Mulgrew, Cricket
Australia's Senior Officer for Schools Cricket.
Dave Tomlin is the Cricket Coordinator of Kent Street Senior
High School in Perth, Western Australia, where he set up a cricket
course at the school in 1988, and by 1992 all five year levels at Kent
Street High were undertaking the program. The alumni list from the Kent
Street cricket program includes Western Australian Warrior players
Marcus North, Michael Dighton and Luke Ronchi.
In Baltimore, Cardinal Gibbons School's Head Coach and Program
Director, Jamie Harrison, leads the only American school cricket
program outside of New York City. He recently participated in West
Indies Cricket Board coaches' training, which was held in the United
States for the first time. Gibbons plays in a new youth league in the
Baltimore-Washington area and boasts 19 players who are new to the
game, as well as a number of more experienced cricketers from places
such as South Africa, India, Pakistan and Jamaica.
Cardinal Gibbons High School cricket team
Of the "brother programs" initiative, Harrison said, "It's an excellent
opportunity for our players to interact with some great kids in
Australia, from whom they can learn so much, not just about cricket,
but about their wonderful country. With our common backgrounds, I think
Americans have always felt a sort of kinship with our cousins "down
under," and I'm excited about the doors this will open and the
possibilities for the future."
Name: Dave Tomlin
School Name: Kent Street Senior High School
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Name: Jamie Harrison
School Name: Cardinal Gibbons School
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Email address: jharrison @ cardinal-gibbons . org
Name: Rebecca Mulgrew
Shiva Vashishat led his side to
the national championship
Ganesh Sanap, the president of the Northern California Cricket Association, says Shiva Vashishat has the qualities of a natural born leader on the cricket field. He has watched the 18-year-old grow up "before my own eyes" since he was 15.
"He comes from a good family and background," said Sanap. "He puts himself in harm's way and takes responsibility."
Shiva's leadership skills were rewarded when he was named captain of the US Under 19 team after he successfully led the North West Region in the recent national tournament.
A psychology student, Shiva, who came to the US with his family from the Punjab in India eight years ago, is no stranger to the captaincy. He has led the North West Region in three of the past four years and has been skipper of his local team, the Broncos, in a Super 25 competition.
"I like the leadership skills, setting an example from the front and getting the team together," he told DreamCricket.com.
Even though he is still a teenager, Shiva is aware that a captain's job is a lot more than tossing the coin before a game and leading the team onto the field. There is the responsibility of field placings, when to make a bowling change and sometimes change the batting order, among others. And off the field he has the role of representing the team and handling press conferences.
The captain is the face of the team.
Shiva understands that discipline on and off the field is part of his job and to keep the team together in what he describes as "clutch situations. Unity is very important."
He often uses words like togetherness and setting an example by saying: "I like setting an example from the front and getting the team together." He gives the impression that the team does not revolve around him and that he works on it being a close unit.
Shiva said the national captaincy was "a huge honor. It was a dream that came true. I did not completely expect it. I was happy," he said.
He says he models himself on India's Rahul Dravid. "I like his temperament, stroke play and captaincy," he said.
One of his goals in life is to play Test cricket with the US senior team. He understands he has a long way to go before selectors will call him to senior level and is aware that he has to practice hard, stay fit and healthy and perform. "It is possible," he said.
Last year Shiva was selected in the "probables team" before selectors chose the senior team and spent two days on and off the field with US captain Steve Massiah. "It was a really good experience with Steve. He was pretty straight forward with everything. He is a dedicated guy and I picked up a lot of things from him. I saw the fitness level we had to reach," he said.
Right now Shiva practices three or four times a week and works out three days a week. So far his cricket and studies are blending well. Asked if he would like to one day captain the US, he said: "That would be something."
Massiah recalls his time with Shiva and said: "He is a solid player and has a good technique. I think he has a bright future and I wish him and the entire Under 19 team all the success they can get," he said.
Wicketkeeper Saami Siddiqui said that one of Shiva's strongest points was his ability to communicate. "He is very good that way with the players," he said. "He listens to advice and then makes up his mind. He is not a stuck up captain."
Saami, who was chosen as the US Under 19 wicketkeeper, said Shiva was prepared for matches and always had a plan for his bowlers. "He really is good and has leadership qualities," he said. "It is not the easiest bunch (Under 19s) to control."
Abrar Ahmad, the manager and chief selector of the North West Region team, recalls Shiva beginning with the Bay Cricket Alliance League in 2002 and Kulwant Virdi, who was a coach at the time, saw leadership qualities in the youngster even then.
"I think he was only 14 when he was captain in social and conditioning games," said Ahmad. "They were prepping him to be a captain. I remember Shiva being very involved, he helped prepare the field and also played."
Ahmad believes Shiva has to stay focused and not let his recent achievements "get to his head." He added that he also showed experience out in the middle. "He doesn't panic, he gets guys involved, makes the right bowling changes and field placings and impressed selectors (at the Under 19 tournament). He was at the right place at the right time," said Ahmad.
Saqib Saleem, a batsman and leg spinner who was chosen in the Under 19 team, said Shiva was always talking to teammates so he could get to know them better. "He is very smart and a fast learner. He knows when to make bowling changes and the right field placings," he said.
"We have been friends for four or five years and Shiva is always trying to improve himself," said Saqib.
Owen Graham, who played in Jamaica before he moved to the US 15 years ago, has worked with Shiva by passing on tips about playing and captaincy at the highest level.
"He is a good all round athlete. He is very level headed and the sky is the limit for him," said Graham. "He has tremendous potential, is a very nice young man and we talk a lot. He is a good listener and learns well. He has a good head on his shoulders."
Graham has such a high opinion of Shiva that he said: "I would take him as my son."
The US Under 19 team is in good hands and the right leadership.
By Venu Palaparthi
A debate has raged recently over USA's wild card entry into Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier to be held in Dubai in October 2009. USA was chosen as the eighth nation to round off the top six associates with ODI status and the host country UAE, which is currently ranked 17th.
USA has been accused of grabbing Namibia's spot (that country is ranked 18th).
According to the critics, USA's selection has violated the sanctity of ICC's merit based 'structure.'
I agree that Namibia completely deserves its high ranking among associates. Namibia would be justified if it feels that it has been short-changed by ICC. They worked hard to secure that ranking.
At the same time, I disagree with the view that USA 'undeservedly' got a ticket to the Qualifier.
USA's critics are of the view that we should remain in exile for some more years. I think these folks are missing the big picture.
Firstly, by definition, a wild card is a special admission into a tournament whose current ranking wouldn't merit entry. In most sports, it's because the invitee is a rising star or a local favorite. ICC gave USA an entry based on USA's potential - not its current ranking.
Secondly, the ICC ranking system is not a 100% accurate reflection of cricketing merit. As you will see, USA's ranking of #32 has much to do with off-field issues stemming from its years in exile and less to do with its on-field performance.
Divisions and regression
First a quick walk through recent history.
By all measures, 2004 was the year in which USA cricket hit its previous peak. USA had a 2nd place finish in 2004 ICC Americas. Then it followed that up with a first place finish in ICC Six Nations Challenge UAE 2004 - a tournament that featured Scotland, Namibia, Canada, etc.
With that came the opportunity to play in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy. Although USA got mauled by the two blue-chip countries in its group - Australia and New Zealand, it also secured a rare victory over Zimbabwe - a full member country - in a warm-up match in September 2004.
But in 2005, USA Cricket became bogged down by a fractious dispute between two rival factions. In fact, the problem came to a head just before the ICC Trophy in 2005 when the two factions disagreed on the squad that would play in that tournament. In May 2005, the USACA named a squad that was condemned by opponents as being 'unrepresentative.' On June 3, just a few weeks before the tournament start, ICC confirmed that USA will participate in the ICC Trophy 2005. It was in these morale-depleting circumstances that a team from USA played in the last ICC Trophy 2005.
Why is this important?
Well, the entire World Cricket League ladder that is in place today is based on the results of the 2005 ICC Trophy. Therefore, the results of the ICC Trophy 2005 played a significant role in shaping the cricketing destiny of associate countries.
USA, which was ranked 6th in ICC Trophy 2001, slipped to 10th among the associates in the 2005 ICC Trophy. In this tournament, USA lost three matches to opponents, one match to rain and its sole win was against Papua New Guinea.
Since this competition was used to seed the global World Cricket League, USA was placed in Division 3 and Namibia in Division 2 based on their rankings of 10th and 7th respectively after the completion of the 2005 ICC Trophy.
But that's not all! There was a further twist in USA's case.
ICC's suspension of USA in 2006 and 2007 made a bad situation worse for cricketers here. USA was pushed to the bottom-most WCL Division 5 when it emerged from suspension in 2008. That meant that USA's climb was going to be steeper by another 10 ranks.
USA's loss was Argentina's gain as that country took USA's place in WCL Division 3 held at Darwin. To their credit, the Argentinians used this opportunity and moved to Division 2, albeit temporarily. In different circumstances, USA would probably have joined Namibia in Division 2.
Namibia, thanks to a top 3 finish in Division 2 against the likes of Argentina, Denmark and Uganda, progressed to the 2009 World Cup Qualifier.
The cards that were dealt were played well by some countries. USA needed to scratch its way back from WCL Division 5. Not impossible (as Afghans proved), but one bad day on the field was all it would take to end their campaign.
WCL Division 5 - An off-day at a crucial juncture.
USA went to WCL Division 5 with tremendous hope (and sub-optimal preparation) just weeks after the ICC suspension was lifted. It won all 4 of its matches in the group stage, but things went awry in the semi-finals against Jersey. As a consequence, USA was out of contention for the World Cup (of the ODI variety). Jersey moved to Division 4 and Afghanistan transited through Division 4 to even greater heights.
The cards that were dealt were played well by Afghanistan and, in retrospect, somewhat poorly by USA. Unfortunately, USA had a bad day at a very crucial juncture.
Where are they now?
Barring USA, the graduating class of the 2005 ICC Trophy have done well - Namibia moved to the 2009 World Cup Qualifier and so have UAE, Canada, Bermuda and Uganda. This is perhaps a reflection of the fact that these countries were blessed with a stable and nourishing environment for cricket between 2005 and 2008. In contrast, USA was in suspension for two years, had no funds for three, and played little international cricket in 2006 and 2007.
USA is happy for all these countries (and for Afghanistan, which did so astonishingly well despite the lack of such nourishment) - all these countries deserved their ascent.
In summary, USA has atoned for its administrators' presumed mistakes - it was demoted in the World Cricket League system and is on the sidelines for the 2011 World Cup.
Denying USA a wild-card entry to a T20 competition, on the basis of a ranking structure formulated in 2005 is like using the same stick to beat USA twice.
Are the rankings sacred?
First things first, the ICC could not have thought of the WCL 'structure' in the context of a T20 World Cup. Because Twenty20 was unheard of in ICC corridors in 2005. The qualifiers for the first two T20 world cups were completely different - in fact, it is fair to say that the qualification methodology is evolving.
Even if rankings were considered, the global ICC rankings miss another important point. There is so little WCL action in a year that relying on a ranking system based purely on 'qualifying' events is like marking a calendar in England based entirely on sunny days!
Just before the 2008 ICC Americas tournament, I wrote on this website: "Although USA, Canada and Bermuda are regarded as comparable in the region, they are miles apart in World Cricket League standings. By that ranking, USA is inferior to all but one team in the region and only slightly better than Suriname."
As I had predicted then, USA reclaimed its status as the No. 1 cricketing nation in the Americas by winning all its matches and finishing ahead of Bermuda and Canada in the 2008 ICC Americas Tournament. Off the field, progress is being made in administrative matters too.
None of this recent progress impacts USA's rankings because, according to the ranking system, the highest win percentage in qualifying (i.e. WCL) matches versus other associates is what determines these rankings.
ICC Americas victories in 2008 against better ranked Canada (#16), Bermuda (#19), Cayman Islands (#25) and Argentina (#26) do not count since these were not in the WCL setting. And USA's victories in 2004, when USA defeated Scotland (now #15), Canada (now #16) and Namibia (now #18) in the ICC Six Nations Challenge do not count because the WCL was not in place in 2004. It is USA's misfortune that it has played few matches since 2005 owing to its suspension from ICC.
Given that, I don't know if the ranking structure can be considered sacred.
Why shouldn't the top-ranked team in Americas play?
If meritocracy and rankings are interlinked - then there is another point that must be made.
The countries that are playing in the Qualifier are - Ireland, Canada, Kenya, the Netherlands, Afghanistan, Scotland, UAE and USA - the wild card entry.
Europe's #1 is playing. Africa's #1 is playing. Asia's #1 is playing. Why is USA, which is ICC Americas #1 'undeserving'? Canada after all is the regional runner-up.
Where's the money?
Some have suggested that ICC's decision is motivated by dollar signs. That is a rush to conclusion like no other. USA is the second largest TV market for global broadcast rights by ICC's own admission! And it remained the second largest TV market throughout its suspension. USA's cricket consumers have buttered the cricketing world's bread for many years now.
Granting USA a wild card to a T20 Qualifier may not do too much in the near-term since the bread is densely buttered already.
But if USA cricket attains buoyancy based on its performance in this tournament, then the entire cricketing world will gain from increased American interest in the sport. And if increasing interest in the game is ICC's long-term goal, then we must commend ICC for finally making that a priority in USA.
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