December 2009 - Posts
by Peter Della Penna
It’s been a little over four years since cricket hijacked my life. The stick and ball sport holds my thoughts hostage 24/7. A large part of these thoughts revolve around the fact that there are not a vast amount of white American-born people like myself who take pleasure in cricket the way they freely do in other sports like college football. Millions of people across the country were glued to their televisions on the night of Saturday, Dec. 12, to see who would win the Heisman Trophy. Unfortunately, the number giving their attention to the Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan was a fraction of that.
Cricket has the capacity to produce a prolific amount of dedication and fervor in Americans. We are a sports playing and watching society. Bobsledding and speed skating have a much fainter blip on the American sports radar than cricket, but two months from now in Vancouver, those will be two sports that everyone in this country will have a very keen knowledge of when the Winter Olympics are in full swing. If those sports can grab people’s attention, so can cricket.
What needs to happen is to make the sport more desirable. Cricket doesn’t need to be “Americanized” to get Americans to like it. However, there are five things that aficionados and administrators can do to help Americans get more involved by appealing to the things they already like about other sports.
1. Stop referring to it as “A Gentleman’s Game”
… unless you’re being facetious. At a recent workshop in Atlanta conducted by Cricket Academy of USA aimed at getting gym teachers to learn about cricket, footage of Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad from the 2007 World Twenty20 was shown on an overhead projector to an audience of about 40 physical education instructors.
After the third six, one teacher bolted out of his chair to the back of the room where I was standing so he could ask me a question. “Can you hit him?” he wanted to know. This man was curious why Broad was getting smoked out of the park without trying to take Singh’s head off with a bouncer in retaliation. “Well…” I thought about it, considering it was a loaded question in which a proper answer would have to include explanations on Bodyline, one bouncer per over in one-dayers, no full tosses above waist height, etc. Yawn. He’ll get confused and lose interest. So I decided to keep it simple. “Yes, as long as you bounce it into the ground first, aiming for his body is well within the rules.” The teacher excitedly went back to his seat and relayed the word to colleagues on his left and right.
A similar conversation took place between myself and two guys I knew from college who I managed to run into a few weeks ago. They had never watched a cricket match before in their lives, but while watching the first day of the third Test between New Zealand and Pakistan alongside me, they got very excited seeing Umar Gul bowl. Tim McIntosh had just hooked him for four and Gul decided to follow up with two more bouncers. All of a sudden, they had their complete attention on the match. McIntosh was ducking out of the way in an attempt at self-preservation and these two guys loved every minute of it.
The stark brutality of cricket is not something that should cause cricket fans to hang their heads in shame. It should be celebrated. Cricket has long been stereotyped in America as “not really a sport because it’s played by men wearing sweaters.” An efficient way to combat this is by celebrating the likes of Mitchell Johnson. Not only is he an exciting talent for his wicket-taking ability, but also for the amount of times in the past 12 months he has sent someone off the field retired hurt. People don’t watch NASCAR for the left turns all day long. They want to see who crashes and who escapes the wrecks. Just as exciting as seeing the stumps rattled in cricket is seeing the ball whizz by a batsman’s head… or into it.
Which Mitchell Johnson spell against South Africa was more entertaining: Perth’s 8 for 61 or Durban’s 3 for 37? At first glance, most cricket folk would take the statistically impressive 8 for 61. However, for my American spirit, I’ll take Durban any day of the week because it included KO’ing Graeme Smith for the second time in three Tests with a broken hand and forcing Jacques Kallis off the field to get stitches after striking him in the helmet with a bouncer. Sit Americans down in front of that and their whole opinion towards cricket changes.
This point is two-fold. Americans love buying clothes if they just plain look cool. Last year during a segment on ESPNews, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson was being interviewed by one of the studio anchors. At one point, the anchor made mention of a New Jersey Devils hat that Jackson was wearing and asked if he was a big fan of Martin Brodeur. Jackson chuckled and said, “Nah, I don’t watch hockey. I’m just wearing it because I like the way it looks.”
The IPL has introduced a fantastic opportunity for people to buy nifty designed hats and jerseys to get them interested in cricket. While speaking with Amar Shah, author of the award winning ESPN.com 2005 E-Ticket feature “A Wicket Wedding”, Shah recounted a story of a party he was at in Los Angeles in which he wore a Kolkata Knight Riders jersey. The people he was mingling with had no clue who KKR was or that they were the laughing stock of the IPL. They just saw the black shirt with gold trim and a shiny NOKIA logo in the middle and wanted to know where they could get one.
American fans also love buying trendy clothes that represent success in some way. While soccer’s current popularity in America can be mainly attributed to having Pele and other stars come in during the NASL years as well as getting the USA to host the World Cup in 1994, another significant event has also contributed greatly to the appeal and awareness of the game.
In February of 2001, Manchester United and the New York Yankees, two of the most successful sports franchises in the world, teamed up for a joint marketing venture. According to a news article from the BBC, the partnership’s aims were for the clubs to “share market information, develop sponsorship and joint promotional programs and sell each other's licensed goods.” At the time, Man U had a certain midfielder whose reputation was on the rise. For the men in this country, and even more for the women, David Beckham was someone who helped people follow United and got them even more interested in soccer and the English Premier League. Before the end of the decade, he became a full-fledged international icon, got a fat contract to come play in the MLS and his former club Man U is now one of 20 English Premier League teams regularly featured on ESPN networks as part of a new television contract.
On a recent visit to a Sports Authority, I could find Brazil soccer team merchandise as well as items with New Zealand All Blacks rugby logos. If those things can make it in there, it shouldn’t be long before vibrant colored cricket team apparel makes it onto the racks.
3. It’s a stick and ball game
That’s all anyone needs to know. Don’t bother trying to explain the LBW law, or any other law about cricket, within the first five minutes of introducing them to the game. All that is required is sticking a bat in their hand and telling them to hit a ball. The rest of it they can learn at the rate their curiosity allows.
While visiting the Philadelphia Cricket Club in October, I was awestruck at the fact that they had white American-born playing members at their club, most of whom had only picked up the game in their 40s and 50s. When I asked one member how long it took him to learn how to play with proper technique, he replied, “six weeks.” His method was simple. To him, it was just another see the ball, hit the ball game. He’d spent most of his life playing sports and this one was not too far different from the others he’d played. The only difference for him was the fact that he needed to form a defense to pair it with attacking shots in cricket. In most other stick and ball sports, attack is all that’s required. Once he got his defense down, he thought cricket was completely normal.
He was clear that he didn’t understand the rules immediately and that it took him some time to learn. However, he was also clear on one other thing. To him, playing cricket required seeing a ball and hitting it. That’s it. Hitting the ball gave him pleasure. It’s what got him coming back on the weekends with the rest of his American friends.
4. Duration is a plus, not a minus
Newsflash: Americans love long sporting events, contrary to popular belief. In fact, the longer they go, the better and more memorable they become.
For Mets fans, two of the most legendary games in the team’s history were two of the longest. In 1999, the Mets beat the Braves in Game 5 of the NLCS on Robin Ventura’s “Grand Slam Single” in a 15-inning classic that went five hours and 46 minutes, which at the time was the longest game in MLB Postseason history. It was eclipsed in 2005 when the Astros beat the Braves in Game 4 of the NLDS in an 18-inning epic that went four minutes longer. An even more famous victory for the Mets came in the 1986 NLCS, on their way to the World Series, when they defeated the Astros 7-6 in 16 innings in what is considered one of the greatest playoff games of all time. I don’t know anyone who talks about these three games and complains that they were too long.
In college basketball, last year’s Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden saw Syracuse and UConn play in one of the most tense and dramatic games of all time, one that went a whopping six overtime periods. The game started at 9:37 p.m. and didn’t get over until 1:22 a.m., not that anyone was complaining. The game was the longest in Big East history and second longest in Division I basketball history.
The same is true for sudden death overtime in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Eleven of the 20 longest games in NHL history have taken place since 1990. Yet, there hasn’t been any hue or cry to eliminate sudden death in the playoffs. The same things that are appealing about sudden death in hockey are what make batting in cricket so alluring. As players head into a second, third, fourth, even fifth 20-minute overtime period, everyone is glued to the television waiting and wondering who will make the heroic breakthrough, or the fatal error. In cricket, a batsman can be at the crease for three, four, five hours, but one lapse in judgment and the bowler has his man.
The endurance element is not limited to just these traditionally American sports. The 2008 Men’s Wimbledon Final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal started at 2:35 p.m., but because of an incredible number of long rallies, weather delays and a stunning fifth set without a tiebreak, the match ended at 9:16 p.m. local time. It was nearly pitch black outside, but the flashbulbs were bursting on the court to capture the end to the greatest, and longest, championship match in Wimbledon history. ESPN Classic made it a habit to run the match on a loop and whenever there is a rain delay during a major tournament on ESPN, they don’t hesitate to unleash the footage from that eventful day.
Then there is golf. 2008 US Open Playoff. Four days was not enough. Unlike just about every other golf tournament, the US Open does not use a one-hole or four-hole sudden death playoff. So Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods played another 18 holes on Monday, except that they were still tied. They went one more playoff hole before Woods prevailed.
Reflecting on the way things unfolded, John Maginnes of PGATour.com wrote, “This Monday finish may go down as the most exciting day of golf all year. Considering the way things played out -- with only five of the 18 holes in the playoff being tied -- it was a tournament that deserved a fitting conclusion. Had there been a sudden death playoff or even a four-hole playoff, we would have been cheated out of the most compelling theater golf has to offer.”
Five days to decide a winner. Compelling theater. It sounds an awful lot like Test cricket to me. The length of a cricket match should be embraced, not defaced.
The Super Bowl consistently remains one of the highest rated American television programs of the year despite the fact that fans from 30 of the 32 NFL teams will not be seeing their team playing in the game. What then is the most exciting part of the game: the on-field action, the commercials, or the halftime show? None of the above.
The correct answer is the coin toss. Billions of dollars will change hands depending on which side it will land. The average man tunes in ten minutes before kickoff to scream, “TAILS! TAILS! TAILS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!” so that he can turn $50 into $100. After the coin toss, it’s exciting to see whether or not the player who scores the first touchdown has an odd or even numbered jersey, how many coaches challenges there will be, if the ball is ever spotted on exactly the 50 yard line and other incredibly banal elements of the game that all of a sudden become heart-pounding when you know you’ve got some money riding on it.
This is not exclusively an American phenomenon. Betting has long been a part of cricket. Unfortunately, it is usually seen in a negative light with match-fixing scandals in the game’s past. However, a positive step has been taken by Cricket Australia to make betting a welcome part of the game. They now routinely show the latest Betfair odds over the course of the match during coverage on Channel Nine.
When I went to my first Test match four years ago, I wanted to see Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne bowl as well as Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist bat. When those things weren’t happening, the things that kept me interested were what was going to be the method of dismissal for the first wicket of the match (caught fieldsman, bowled, LBW, runout, stumped, or the very long odds for hit wicket), whether or not darkhorse Shane Watson would take the most first innings wickets, which team would wind up with a first innings lead and would Michael Clarke get out between 50 and 74 runs. A single Test match offers just as many wild and crazy options as the betting lines on Super Bowl Sunday, and man are they fun.
As Masaood Yunus of the Minnesota Cricket Association said in a radio interview promoting the USACA Western Conference Tournament this year, “We get bored sometimes too.” An excellent way to make sure a person stays interested in any new sport is if they have a healthy wager on proceedings. It makes them eager to learn the rules and the structure, who the stars are, what history shows and what the latest trends are. Cricket is no different. The most important city in America for getting people to follow cricket isn’t Fort Lauderdale. It won’t be Indianapolis, New York or Los Angeles either. It’s Las Vegas. Once cricket carves out a niche in the casino sportsbooks, interest will skyrocket.
So there it is, five ways to make cricket appealing and desirable to Americans. Sure the old clichés like grassroots development and domestic cable television exposure will help. But these five simple yet effective concepts will play their part too.
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By Ricardo Inniss
The highlight of the South Florida Cricket Alliance (SFCA) Presentation of Awards
Dinner and Dance, held on Saturday evening December 05, was Lauderhill United’s ace Leg-Spinner Main U. “Romeo” Ahmed, voted as the 2009 Cricketer of the year. “ Romeo” who can produce a cleverly disguised googly at will, created history, by capturing 41 wickets during the 50 overs competition, the most ever by a bowler in the over 30 years-old SFCA.
Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh on December 30, 1986, “Romeo” as he is familiarly known by his peers, arrived in the United States of America in 2006, having only played tape-ball cricket in the land of his birth. In South Florida, he first played for Florida International, In the Florida Southeast Cricket League (FSCL). Soon after that, with prodigious turn, nippy bounce and deadly accuracy, the crafty leg-spinner was mesmerizing batsmen throughout the SFCA.
He first started to play in the SFCA in 2007, where he has turned out for Pakistan, taking 30 wickets in 2007 and repeated it in 2008, playing for the U S
Academy. “Romeo” represented the SFCA Youth Team in the 2008 Classic, in 2009 he turned out for current Classic champions Team USA, and bagged 23 wickets the most by any bowler in the competition. Playing for Lauderhill United in the recently completed 50 overs competition (Premier Zone), following is a look at how he took his record- breaking 41 wickets:
His best bowling performance was against Myrtle Grove, when he snared 7 for 30, from 5.4 overs. He had three 5 wicket hauls, 5 for 14 from 7.3 overs (including a hat-trick) against Sportsman, 5 for 18 off 5.4 against Osswald Park 1 and 5 for 27 from 8 against Parkway. One 4 wicket haul, 4 for 35 off 10 against International. There were four 3 wicket hauls, 3 for 5 from 4 overs against West Indies Alliance, 3 for 11 off 6 against Palm Beach, 3 for 22 from 9 against Parkway and 3 for 22 off 6 against Palm Beach. 2 for 52 from 9 overs against Myrtle Grove and 1 for 27 off 10 against Osswald Park 1, completes the 41 wickets haul at an average of 6.41, after bowling 80.83 overs, 8 maidens, for 263 runs.
Standing at 5’ 10” the slenderly built, cunning, and very determined leg-spinner, is aspiring to represent the USA, but says if a chance comes his way to play league cricket in England, he will grab it with both hands. After cricket, “Romeo” likes playing golf and watching movies.
During the SFCA Awards Presentation, Dinner and Dance, Long standing President Jeff Miller, announced his resignation (more to come on this later). Former Vice President Melton Taylor is now the President.
By Peter Della Penna
A few additions from the initial 40-man list, as well as some notable
omissions, highlight a short list of 23 men’s national team probables
heading down to Florida this weekend to take part in a training camp
alongside the Under-19 team.
The list obtained from USACA features 10 players representing the 2009
USACA National Champion New York Region squad, including three who were
not in the original list of 40. Akeem Dodson, George Adams and Dennison
Thomas have all been invited back to Florida after impressing the
selection panel at the National Championship last month.
Among the 23 players, 13 of them have never played for USA’s senior squad.
“Each one of the new guys has just as much chance as anyone else to
make the team,” said USA coach Clayton Lambert. “Their performances
were so impressive at the last camp that there wasn’t much that
separates any of them from anyone else.”
Sushil Nadkarni is not in the list as he is still recovering from an
Achilles tendon injury he suffered in the Western Conference Tournament
in Minneapolis this past August. It is unclear whether or not he will
be fully healed in time to play for the USA in February when they
travel to the UAE to take part in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier.
Barrington Bartley, Timroy Allen and Nasir “Charlie” Javed are also not
on the list. Bartley is not participating for work related reasons, but
it is unclear if Allen and Javed are not on the list due to performance
The U-19 team will also be training alongside the senior team this
weekend in Florida. The 14-man squad that went to Toronto in September
will be joined by six other players gunning for the final roster spot
on the 15-man team that will go to New Zealand for the ICC U-19 World
Cup. While not guaranteeing it, U-19 coach Sew Shivnaraine indicated
there is a strong probability the squad that went 6-3 in September to
qualify for the World Cup will not be broken up.
“It’s hard to change a winning team,” said Shivnaraine. The choice for
the 15th player looks to be a two horse race between South East Region
wicketkeeper-batsman Steven Taylor and New York Region pace-bowling
all-rounder Kavishwar Bridgepaul. It all depends on whether the
selectors opt to increase the depth in batting, which struggled in
Toronto, with the big hitting Taylor or instead bring in Bridgepaul to
boost the pace bowling department for the seam friendly conditions of
According to Lambert and Shivnaraine, no U-19 players have been
included in the list right now for the senior team because they want
everyone to focus their efforts 100 percent on the month long tour to
New Zealand. However, there is still a possibility that if anyone has a
standout tour, they could be added to the senior team afterwards.
The official 15-man U-19 World Cup squad is expected to be announced
after the completion of this weekend’s camp. The other five players
will form the reserves in case a player needs to be replaced due to
injury or other reasons. The senior squad will be cut down to about 18
players for another training camp that is being planned for mid-January
before a final squad of 14 is picked.
List of Senior Team Probables
Atlantic Region: Imran Awan, Clain Williams.
Central East Region: Ashhar Mehdi (wk), Akhil Pathan, Khawaja Usman Shuja.
Central West Region: Orlando Baker.
New York Region: George Adams, Lennox Cush, Kevin Darlington,
Sudesh Dhaniram, Akeem Dodson (wk), Glen Hall, Rashard Marshall, Steve
Massiah, Dennison Thomas, Carl Wright (wk).
North West Region: Mohammad Bilal Khan, Nauman Mustafa (wk), Samarth Shah, Saurabh Verma.
South East Region: Anand Tummala.
South West Region: Aditya Thyagarajan, Ravi Timbawala.
List of U-19 Probables
Atlantic Region: Muhammad Asad Ghous, Yash Shah, Charan Singh, Henry Wardley.
Central East Region: Abhijit Joshi.
Central West Region: Ryan Corns.
New York Region: Kavishwar Bridgepaul, Regis Burton, Gregory Sewdial.
North East Region: Azurdeen Mohammed.
North West Region: Akash Jagannathan (wk), Naseer Jamali, Saad Khan, Saqib Saleem, Saami Siddiqui (wk), Vinay Suri, Shiva Vashishat.
South East Region: Steven Taylor (wk).
South West Region: Salman Ahmad, Hammad Shahid.
By Peter Della Penna
For years, cricket has struggled to make its way into the mainstream of
the American consciousness. Despite being played all over the country,
the game is primarily sustained by the immigrant communities who settle
here. However, a chance idea that came about in a meeting of school
principals in Atlanta has provided a spark to ignite a flame of serious
ambition towards growing the sport on a broader scale in the southeast.
Picture: Sabbir Mahmud from CAUSA helps demonstrate proper batting technique to a few PE teachers. (Courtesy: Zahid Habib)
“I was in a meeting with principals and it was a principal at one of
our high schools that said the children at his school were interested
and he thought it would be a good idea to get the teachers some
training in the game of cricket and some information on the game of
cricket and to introduce that so that we could have a little more
multicultural and different sport perspective,” said Therese McGuire,
Coordinator of Health & Physical Education, Fulton County Schools
in Fulton County, Ga.
McGuire then found out about the Cricket Academy of USA, located in the
Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville, and it wasn’t long before they
organized a workshop geared to teach high school PE teachers in the
county about the basics of cricket.
“I was amazed at the amount of, the kind of response we got and the
kind of feedback we’ve been getting from the PE teachers,” said Anand
Tummala, Head Coach of CAUSA. “It is very encouraging and they have
been very receptive and have been very much instrumental in making this
cricket development project a very huge success so far. In the
discussions we’ve been having with the PE teachers in between the
drills and after the session, they are very optimistic about this great
game of cricket being spread rapidly amongst the kids and the youth
here in Fulton County and also across the state of Georgia in various
The success of the first workshop paved the way for a second three-hour
session in which approximately 40 middle school teachers took part in a
cleared out cafeteria at Sandy Springs Middle School in Atlanta on
“I thought it was very informative,” said Amanda Candelario, a PE
teacher at Webb Bridge Middle School in Alpharetta, Ga. “I liked that
it was interactive, that we got to try all the skills, that they were
broken down one by one by one like we would teach the kids and that we
got to practice them with their providing us feedback and telling us
what maybe we could do differently in regards to the skills. We got
lots of practice which was good.”
The session started off with a brief introduction by McGuire and
members of CAUSA, including President Lada Bedi and Tummala, as a short
guide with visuals and diagrams on cricket was distributed to each
teacher. This was followed by a sequence of game footage shown on a
projection screen in the cafeteria, Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes in an over
off Stuart Broad from the 2007 World Twenty20, aimed at giving the
teachers present a glimpse of some of the more spectacular parts of the
game they were about to learn.
“Wow! It’s the first time I’ve ever seen cricket played,” said Jill
Robertson, a PE teacher at Autrey Mill Middle School in Alpharetta,
Ga., “and to see how one country can be so excited about a sport and
it’s just the bomb over [in India] and yet we’ve never heard of it
really except for in conversation but never played it, never seen it
played and so it’s really exciting to learn something new.”
Once the fireworks were complete, the teachers all got to pick up their
own blade of willow to learn proper batting technique followed by a
tutorial on bowling and fielding. The day was concluded with a short
game of indoor cricket to put into practice the skills they learned
over the course of the day.
“We are making them understand cricket with the same principles as any
other sport and applying the basics of cricket making it simple for
them to understand,” said Tummala. “Cricket has many more rules than
any other game but we are not trying to implement all those rules in
these brief sessions. We are trying to get the knack of the main three
aspects of cricket: batting, bowling and fielding.”
“I enjoyed trying the bowling because I used to coach the javelin when
I lived back up in New Jersey,” said Steve Kolkka, another PE teacher
at Webb Bridge Middle School. The javelin approach to fast bowling is
something that is espoused by Mavericks Cricket Institute founder Ian
Pont. “Some of those movements were very similar.”
The next workshop for Fulton County Schools by CAUSA is scheduled for early 2010, but don’t expect it to be the last one.
“If we can teach American teachers this great game of cricket, that is
the only way I think we can send the message close to America what
cricket is,” said Bedi. McGuire and CAUSA have calculated some
astounding numbers for the amount of students that can be reached in
Fulton County alone once more teachers are trained through more clinics.
“In the previous meeting we had with Ms. Therese McGuire… she was
mentioning that there are 90 schools in Fulton County and there is an
opportunity to reach out to 90,000 kids in just Fulton County,” said
Tummala. “So if we put all the figures on paper, you may be reaching
astronomical figures for the number of kids whom we can reach out to.
So if we just take the minimum, the base minimum figure of what we are
trying to reach out to, we plan in the next three to five years we
should have at least 10 to 20,000 kids playing cricket here in Atlanta,
and in the metro Atlanta area and the nearby counties.”
“An institution like Cricket Academy USA who is looking to try and
teach the game to tens if not hundreds of thousands of students in the
next few years is remarkable,” said USACA CEO Don Lockerbie. CAUSA made
an impressive presentation to Lockerbie and USACA board members at the
recent board meeting that took place during the National Championships
in Florida. The plans which were outlined gained a hearty approval from
Lockerbie with the hope that their model will succeed not just in
Atlanta but all over the country.
For now though, the focus is on Fulton County and whether or not the
kids will take the lead from their teachers to give cricket a go.
However, most of the teachers who attended November’s workshop are
confident that won’t be a problem.
“Just remembering that it’s so much fun to try something new,” said
Robertson. “It’s so much fun to learn a new sport and to teach kids. We
have kids from all over the country in our classes and I’m sure for
some of them they’ll be like, ‘Cricket! Yes I know this game because
I’m from India or I’ve seen it played somewhere else,’ and I just think
it’s gonna be fun.”
Picture: Therese McGuire (center standing) introduces the CAUSA
members (left) to the Fulton County PE teachers. (Courtesy: Peter
FCS Workshop Interview with Therese McGuire from Peter Della Penna on Vimeo.
FCS Workshop Interview with Amanda Candelario from Peter Della Penna on Vimeo.
FCS Workshop Interview with Steve Kolkka from Peter Della Penna on Vimeo.
FCS Workshop Interview with Lada Bedi & Anand Tummala
from Peter Della Penna
FCS Workshop Interview with Jill Robertson from Peter Della Penna on Vimeo.
On their first tour of USA in 1879, the Gentlemen of Ireland were
tied 1-1 in the two matches against the Gentlemen of Philadelphia, the
strongest side in USA at that time. The visitors lost twice to
Philadelphia in 1888. In September and October of 1892, Ireland
visited USA for the third time, playing seven keenly contested matches
in Boston, Lowell, New York, Baltimore and, in a clear indication of
where the sport was most popular, three matches against the Gentlemen
The visitors attracted tremendous media attention wherever they went
and the stands were packed despite the late September chill.
In DreamCricket.com's possession are hand-colored photographic
images from the match at Germantown Cricket Club that are proof of the
game's popularity - perhaps the first photos of cricket played in USA.
Until then, most illustrations were hand-drawn.
Gentlemen of Ireland vs Gentlemen of Philadelphia at Germantown Cricket Club, Manheim.
As had become de rigueur for international matches,
spectator interest and media focus was centered on the match at the
Livingston Field in Staten Island, home of the Staten Island Cricket
Club, a ground that exists even today (the Randolph Walker Park); and
the three matches in Philadelphia, which were played at the Germantown
Cricket Club - a venue that was named a National Historic Landmark in
Commenting on the first match at Philadelphia (the fourth in the
series), Charles Blancke wrote in the Harper's: "If the reader has
never witnessed an international match, I would advise him the first
opportunity to visit the grounds of the Germantown Cricket Club at
Manheim, when such a game is in progress. No fair-minded man who has
been privileged to witness an international cricket match at Manheim
will deny that the game possesses certain elements of fascination."
Pic (Right): The rich watch the matches from their well appointed coaches
Blancke was eloquent in his description of the atmosphere: "Imagine
a matchless square of velvety grass upon which the picked champions of
two countries have met to defent the dignity of their national cricket.
"Around the arena are congregated several thousands of eager,
enthusiastic spectators, comprising people from almost every walk and
rank of life, from the native-born millionaire on his perfectly
appointed coach to the humble artisan who has sacrificed a day's wages
in order to witness his favorite game."
The ground had opened its clubhouse the previous year when Lord
Hawke's English side came visiting. The clubhouse, which still stands
today, was designed and built in 1891 by the internationally acclaimed
architectural firm McKim, Mead and White. When you look at the
pictures of the Germantown Cricket Club ground, it is easy to see why
it was, and according to those that play in Philadelphia, still
remains, the most appropriate venue for test cricket in the country.
Blancke wrote: "A stately club-house keeping silent guard over
others less imposing in size but daintier in appearance, clusters of
trees placed just where they will most enhance the scene, a graceful
grand stand filled with the elite of the country, and a cultivated
landscape dotted with charming villas, complete a picture of almost
unrivalled variety and brightness."
Germantown Cricket Club built a wicket that was fit for Test cricket. The clubhouse and the ground still exist today.
Describing the feverish excitement throughout the series, Blancke
wrote: "The interest displayed in these matches by the sport-loving
community of Philadelphia is general. For weeks previous to the visit
of a foreign team every scrap of information relative to the members
thereof is eagerly sought after."
Writing that the crowd of several thousands was eminently orderly,
Blancke spent some time discussing the women in attendance. "Some
affect the game because they are members of the ladies' auxiliary
branch of the local cricket club; others have gained a smattering of
the technical terms of the game, and like to air their knowledge with
cries of "beautifully cut.""
The Germantown Cricket Club ground featured a scoreboard that few cricket grounds in USA can boast of even today.
The following paragraph is as accurate now as it was a century ago.
"The visits of foreign elevens serve a double purpose: they tend to
popularize the sport, and they enable us to guage the progress made by
our cricketers from year to year. An international tournament between
the picked men of America, Australia, and England would arouse
unparalleled enthusiasm among our cricketers. Such a series would
enable us to find out exactly how we compare with the great elevens of
the world, and even if we should be defeated, the opportunity afforded
us to study the methods of the foreign experts would be incalculable
advantage to us."
Then as now, a lot of effort went into organizing cricket matches.
"Few people can imagine the amount of forethought necessary to the
successful management of such a match," Blancke wrote. There are a
thousand and one things to be looked after that would probably never
strike the mind of the average man, who is generally content to enjoy
the provisions made for his comfort without giving himself any special
concern as to the manner in which they were brought about."
The series itself proceeded in a predictable fashion and the toughest competition was in Philadelphia.
In the first match against a Boston XV, the Irish team fielded
twelve players but the travel-weary cricketers failed to fire against
Boston's strong bowling duo - the Boston Globe journalist Ralph
Cracknell who got 3 for 24 in the first innings and John Chambers who
got 5 for 39. With a score of just 84, there was no chance of a
comeback. In the second innings, Cracknell once again cracked the whip
(7 for 18) and Chambers played second in command (4 for 23). Boston
needed just 6 runs to win in the second innings which they managed
without a loss.
In the second match against a combined side of Boston and Lowell,
Ireland had a better tally posting 156 despite the hardships caused by
Cracknell and Chambers. But Archibald Penny of Ireland found form
extracting 7 Bostonian wickets and causing a middle order collapse.
Boston and Lowell were gone for 74 and forced to follow-on whereupon
George Green took 8 for 32 and causing the hosts to go down for 115.
Needing 34 to win, Ireland were made to struggle by Cracknell (4 for
16) and Chambers (2 for 17) but the visitors finished the chase with 5
wickets to spare.
From Boston, the Irish team proceeded to New York where they played
against an All New York side at the Livingston Field on Staten Island
for a 3 day match. Henry Tyers scored 91 against the confident Irish
helping New York post a respectable 225 in the first innings. William
Thompson of the NJ Athletic Club, 4 for 39, breached the confidence of
the visitors and they were gone for 187 despite Blayney Hamilton's
heroic 80. In the second innings, USA all-rounder John Lambkin got 58
and featured in a solid partnership with Tyers (29). After Tyers fell,
the New Yorkers collapsed with the score reading 164 but setting a
respectable targer of 203. Ernest Thompson (41) and Blayney Hamilton
(39), both of Dublin University, took the lead with Francis Kilkelly
contributing 37 lower down as Ireland reached 203 in a tight finish and
amidst failing light.
won two in a row, the Irish cricketers proceeded to Manheim to play
three matches against the strongest side in America - the Gentlemen of
Philadelphia (GOP) featuring the likes of GS Patterson, Henry Baily and
America's greatest cricketer ever - John 'Bart' King. In
Philadelphia, the Irish won one, lost one and drew the final match.
Pic (right): The clubhouse at Germantown Cricket Club - AL Church - 1893
In the first match on 23rd September 1892, Ireland chose to bat
after winning the toss. Bart King and Baily knocked the top order out
with lightning speed but Archibald Penny restored some order with his
59 not out but with nobody giving company, Ireland could muster 175.
(See the illustration freezing the scoreboard - the first such
illustration still available).
In their chase, GOP suffered at the hands of Blayney Hamilton and
John Hynes conceding a nice first inning lead of 52. Ireland added 239
in their second innings and chasing 291 was not easy despite the solid
start given by GS Patterson (56) and a similar effort by H Crawford
Coates (also 56). The hosts managed 164 allowing the Irish a win by
Riding on a high, Ireland took a road-trip to Baltimore where they
handed the hosts an innings defeat before heading back to Philadelphia.
In the second match against Philadelphia, the home team started
poorly and fought brilliantly to get to 157. It was now up to Bart
King and Baily and they did not disappoint with 8 wickets between them
as they uprooted Ireland for 122. In the second innings, Walter Scott
(53) struck form and featured in a fifty run opening partnership with
Edward Clark (29) as GOP capitalized on that start and made 181.
Chasing 216, Ireland was up for the task as Blayney Hamilton continued
his form as he and Montiford Gavin withstood King and built up a 49 run
partnership. Wicket keeper William Vint and Archibald Penny sweated
stood like a rock in a ninth wicket partnership that nearly denied
Philadelphia a victory. But after Vint (33) fell to Clark, King
triggered the celebrations as he removed the last man in and
Philadelphia won against the visitors by 23 runs.
The third match against Philadelphia, the last in the series,
stuttered to a draw but Philadelphians had already proved that they
were among the top teams in the world. In the two decades that
followed, Bart King continued to take Philadelphia to never-befor
Mirza Makes The Most Of South Africa Trip
young cricketer, Cameron Mirza, has impressed coaches and fellow
players at the International Pro Camp in Potchefstroom, South Africa
that finished on December 4th. The 16-year old opening
batsman - the youngest ever to take part in such a camp run by North
West Cricket - played in both matches during the week at the University
grounds. And with most of the attendees not realizing the US even
played cricket, his presence has created a real stir.
West Cricket batting consultant, Monty Jacobs was on hand to
assess Mirza in a mixed match of first-class and academy contracted
players and against national team Namibia Under 19s. Jacobs, who is
widely regarded as one of South Africa’s top batting coaches, thought
he appeared unfazed and very organised. ‘’Cameron is a really
good-looking player comparable to others at this camp'', he commented.
''There are some small technical tweaks he can make that will help him
adjust to grass pitches but he will improve the more he plays on real
turf. For a 16 year-old to come in at this level from the USA, out of
his winter and not look out of place in any way is a real credit to him
and his coach. ”
captain of the North West Cricket first-class franchise team the NW
Dragons was attending the camp himself. He said, ''It's exciting to see
emerging talent like this from outside the Test playing countries.
Cameron is a super lad and fitted in really well with his peers. You
can only wonder how far up the ladder he could climb with the right
opportunities. He's been a credit to his country and we are all now
keeping an eye out for his development as I feel sure we could see him
go to the top if he can continue his rapid improvements.''
the week Mirza received further expert batting, bowling and fielding
coaching from Zimbabwe National Coach Kevin Curran and South African
‘A’ Head Coach, Corrie van Zyl plus South African professionals Andrew
Hall who plays for Northants, and Deon Kruis who is overseas pro with
Yorkshire. Mirza’s fledgling off spin also received special praise from
van Zyl as having the best action of all the spin bowlers at the camp,
which he then backed up by grabbing two wickets in a tidy three overs
Mirza is now staying on for an extra 4 days to work intensely with his coach, Mavericks Cricket founder, Ian Pont. Pont
arranged for the trip and also utilised the extra time to have Mirza
seen by first-class player Pierre Joubert, who is captain of the Nashua
Titans team currently playing at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom. Joubert
along with fellow Titans player Farhaan Behardien, watched Mirza in the
nets and offered their help and advice.
‘’He is a
sweet timer of the ball’’, said Joubert. ‘’It will help him to move his
feet less before the ball is bowled on grass and also to set his base a
bit more strongly. But I see some really good talent here.” Behardien
added, ‘’we watched him from the next net and were really impressed. I
had no idea the USA played cricket or that he was only 16.”
leaves South Africa on Tuesday and is already excited by this
experience of a lifetime. ‘’Senwes Park is one of the most beautiful
grounds I have ever seen and it’s been amazing to be able to train
here’’, he said. ‘My batting, bowling and fielding have all improved in
such a short time and I have learned a lot, which I hope will put me in
a good place for the future. ‘’
Maryland based Tenelec Inc. pumps G$1.25 M into U-15 & Div. 1 50 overs tournaments
The year 2010 is still one month away but Berbice Cricket Board
(BCB) has already secured sponsorship for two major competitions in the
Ancient County for next year compliments of Tenelec Inc. of Maryland,
The overseas based company has joined hands with the Berbice Board to
continue a highly successful relationship which started two years ago,
2007. Tenelec has injected a total of $1.25 Million for hosting the
Tenelec Inc. /Berbice Under-15 and Tenelec Inc. /Berbice 50 overs First
The company headed by Tom Gruentzel and Bobby Deonarine, who is the
uncle of West Indies Test Player Narsingh Deonarine, has expressed
total satisfaction with the BCB’s financial stewardship apart from
their successful staging of the competition over the years.
BCB President Keith Foster at the presentation ceremony hailed the
contribution of Tenelec which aids in the development of Berbice
cricket. He noted the importance of the Under-15’s which together with
the Under 13’s is the nursery for the sport in Berbice since it guides
and nurtures the young players in becoming professionals as well as
positive role models.
Tenelec’s sponsorship at the first-division level has been a main
contributory factor in Berbice dominating the senior inter-county
tournaments. The Ancient County won both the One Day and Four Day
tournaments this year.
Treasurer of the BCB Anil Beharry in accepting the cheque expressed his
delight at the renewal of the sponsorship so early. He stated that the
board had to be doing things right for a major sponsor to renew its
sponsorship before the start of the year.
Click here for more on Tenelec's support of Berbice cricket.
The Advocate reported that a children's league was launched in Stamford, CT.
In Stamford, Kiani joined adult leagues, but it
was only recently -- when the city installed an artificial turf field
marked for cricket in Lione Park -- that he decided to establish a
children's league for his son and others in the community.
"I saw that Stamford made a nice field, so I said, 'Why not take advantage of it?' " Kiani said.
Shortly after the city opened the new field in June, Kiani and his friends founded the Stamford
Islamic Center Cricket League.
of the Stamford Freedom and Stamford Warriors youth cricket teams pose
on the cricket pitch in Lione Park in Stamford on Saturday. (Chris
Albion’s first Test player and the
ninth player from the Ancient County to play Test cricket, 57-year-old
Sew Shivnarine, as he is popularly called, was honoured last Saturday
for his contribution to cricket.
The main pavilion at the Albion Community Centre ground was renamed
the Sew Shivnarine Pavilion during the ceremony. The right handed
Shivnarine who was born on May 13, 1952 in Albion, Berbice played eight
Test matches and scored 379 runs at an average of 29.15 and hit four
half centuries. He played one ODI and scored 20 runs.
More details, click here.
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Last month’s announcement by USACA that they are entering into a partnership with New Zealand Cricket was a big step in helping to get US cricket onto the international radar. According to USACA CEO Don Lockerbie, NZC is going to be involved in myriad ways to develop cricket in America as well as raise the profile of the game in the country and USA’s cricket profile around the world. While the announcement was made in November, the seeds were planted last June in London.
“It all started with a breakfast in June in which the board treasurer, John Thickett, and myself met with Justin during the ICC annual conference in London,” said Lockerbie during an interview last week. “We had been given Justin’s name, we certainly knew who he was, but Matthew Kennedy of the ICC who is responsible for managing the Associate members thought it would be very wise for me personally to meet up with Justin because I think it’s widely known that New Zealand runs a very good board, a very good program for such a small country, is consistently one of the top teams and successful.
“We just hit it off at that breakfast for sure. Justin has been an international businessman who has had dealings and has lived and worked in the United States. He understands our culture. He understands our diverse culture and he also had a good feel for where cricket was in the United States and what it could be. That was part and parcel our discussion and what we basically agreed to was that down the road we should look at how New Zealand could assist USACA.””
A month later, USACA issued their commercial program request for proprosals. According to Lockerbie, USACA received 102 expressions of interest from companies in 16 different countries. By the August 7 deadline, they had received 42 official proposals from businesses in nine different countries.
Photo (Right): Don Lockerbie, CEO , USACA
“Much to our happy surprise, New Zealand was one of them, and the only Full Member that put together a consortium of Full Member services and sports management company partners to put what they call a collaboration of USACA with this New Zealand Cricket consortium,” said Lockerbie. This consortium gives USACA the potential to make more announcements in the near future for other partnerships. “The consortium is certainly New Zealand Cricket proper and then essentially some Australian partners who are already involved in sports management. We’re going to keep them private for the moment because we still have some other negotiations to reach together but we’re very pleased with the consortium and their immediate ability to help US cricket.”
Lockerbie is particularly excited at the coaching and development resources that will be made available by NZC to help fast-track the US back up the Associate ranks.
“First of all, it’s a great day for American cricket in the sense that one of the things New Zealand wants to do is help us focus on developing the game in the United States,” said Lockerbie. “Now to that end, they’re going to share with us all of the programs that seem to make sense in the United States. That’s everything from of course coaching programs, player development programs, umpiring clinics and certification programs. Helping clubs manage their programs, their training, their competitions, their growth. Helping us understand what New Zealand is doing to develop cricket in schools. Helping with the women’s and girl’s programs that New Zealand has. Working with my offices to help mentor USACA’s management on how to do things within the specter of being a well governed, well oiled cricket board, working on our budgets, on our staffing, on our priorities. Helping our board of directors, maybe by consulting with them on the programs the board might want to create policies for. We’ve got everything.
“It’s almost as if New Zealand will be mentoring but they’re almost like a library resource of information. The ability to look at their player contracts for example, or their constitution or how they budget or the type of staff that they have in their offices and as we grow and we start hiring more staff, what might be the right plan, job description. When we start contracting players for professional contracts, to be able to use whatever’s working for New Zealand, it’s just a great instant resource for us. But they really want to help us grow the game. They want to help us of course grow it within the body that already exists and improve the game here in the United States and help us improve the game. But they are nothing more than consultants and advisors to us. They’re not here in any way to manage cricket in the United States. They’re here to be a resource, an active resource.”
The first utilization of these resources will be later this month when the Under-19 and senior teams have a training camp that is being planned for the weekend before Christmas to take place in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. According to Lockerbie, NZC will be sending over coaches to help assist the Under-19 team’s preparation before they leave for the ICC U-19 World Cup in January. The coaches will also be there to help the senior team get ready for their two ICC tournaments in February. The Under-19 team will also be the beneficiary of more assistance in New Zealand as they are scheduled to arrive a week early to train in preparation for the 16-team event.
“They’ve already set up training camps for us in New Zealand for the Under-19 World Cup… people there to help make sure that our experience replicates the experience that a Full Member would normally have because of these extra resources,” said Lockerbie. “In a sense, they’re almost adopting our Under-19 team to make sure we have a special experience within the guidelines of the World Cup. So that’s a perfect partnership to kick off. I mean the Under-19 team is gonna have as close to a Full Member World Cup experience as anybody could have and that’s just brilliant I think. We’re gonna go in early and have eight or nine days before our first warm-up match against India. And to have the New Zealand team walk us through and get us used to the wickets and the weather and the jet lag and the food and all of the things that they can help us do will just be a better managed team and our coaching staff and players are very excited about that.”
While USACA stands to gain a tremendous amount from this deal, New Zealand is also looking to create more opportunities for itself. As was previously reported, New Zealand is looking to stage matches in the northern hemisphere summer while their stadiums are occupied by rugby teams during the southern hemisphere winter. Lockerbie believes that international matches can be staged here with New Zealand as early as next year.
“The whole idea that New Zealand needs a place to play from May to October means that New Zealand will be an annual fixture playing other Full Members in the United States year after year as we continue to develop our relationship,” said Lockerbie. “So already we have some potential matches in the works and we’re very excited about that as well.”
With the ICC World Twenty20 happening in the West Indies next year, Lockerbie is also trying to convince teams to come and play matches in the USA as a form of warm-up before the tournament starts on April 30, 2010 in Guyana. His aim is to get teams to play matches from April 21-24. However, this will be a difficult task to pull off since the third season of the IPL doesn’t finish until April 25 and a good chunk of international talent will be unavailable.
Speaking of the West Indies, Lockerbie wants people to know that the agreement with New Zealand Cricket does not mean that USACA is no longer interested in having a relationship with the WICB.
“There’s a lot of interest as to why this hasn’t been with the West Indies Cricket Board who is the Full Member in our region,” said Lockerbie. “Let me make it clear that I’ve been a part of the West Indies Cricket Board since 2002. My regard is very high. My respect is very high. As Chief Operating Officer of the West Indies World Cup, I know pretty much everybody there and we’re going to be working closely with them as well. We’ve made an official relationship with New Zealand because they’re from far away and they’ve been outsiders but we’ll continue to do more than ever with the West Indies.
“Dr. Ernest Hilaire, the new CEO, and I were very close colleagues at the World Cup. Robert Bryant, who is now the CEO of the World T20, has reached out to me for some assistance. I personally am offering some assistance to the Trinidad government to assist in finishing a stadium project that didn’t get finished in time for the World Cup, that’s the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad. That stadium will be finally finished in the spring of 2010 and I’m providing some personal assistance so we’re absolutely closer than ever with the West Indies Cricket Board and we’ll continue to work on bringing the West Indies team to the United States.”
Speaking about the potential for growth in the sport across America, Lockerbie pointed to the success of the NYPD T20 league and the NY PSAL high school initiative as proof that there is a vast market that needs to be tapped into.
“There are other cities that I’m now aware of who want to emulate what the New York Police Department has done with their league. So if you think about the fact that in New York, the New York Police Department started their league and the PSAL has a league and now you look at some other cities around the country are looking to develop leagues both in their schools and in police departments as initiatives, these are exciting times,” said Lockerbie. “What we’re looking to do is watch the balance of cricket grow because estimates that we have is that there’s anywhere between 30 and 40,000 registered players in the United States in USACA. It’s also been estimated that on a given weekend, there’s 200,000 people playing cricket in the United States, they’re just not registered as part of USACA. Then it’s estimated that there’s 15 million fans of the game in the country. To only have 30 or 40,000 registered players out of 15 million fans isn’t good enough. Even with 200,000 people playing, it isn’t good enough.
“We’ve just got to continue to build USACA as a worthy organization that people can trust to caretake for the game and grow the game and I’m very pleased to see that there’s plenty of collaboration and entrepreneurs, good initiatives that are popping up all over the country where people want to see the game grow and then corporations are wanting to invest in the game. We hope to have some very big announcements in the next month or two regarding other international play and commercial endorsements and commercial program partnerships. Early in the new year, or certainly by the first quarter of the new year, we should have a lot of very positive announcements and it will all go with the goal of developing the game at the grass roots level because that’s the future. The future of the game is to make sure the youth of this country are learning it so that we can continue to create a pool of players that enjoy the game and then also support the game so that we can send our national and international players to play the game at a worthy level.”
Regarding the commercial endorsements and sponsorships that have been absent from USA cricket, Lockerbie has declared that America will not be able to become a force in international cricket without them and that a steady source of revenue is necessary if the United States wants to compete with the big boys. It won’t happen overnight, but consistent progress will be key.
“Cricket Australia probably has a budget north of $100 million dollars annually and so would the top three or four teams who you could name. Probably middle road Full Members are in the $20-50 million dollar a year expenditure. When you look at Associates, the history of Associates, are probably in the $1-3 million dollar a year capability,” said Lockerbie. “So I can tell you that USA Cricket is looking at making sure that we’re at the top of the Associates level, but that’s not going to be good enough and over the next few years, our budgets will be headed north of that and so we have to find sponsors and events and other revenue streams to get us there. Because we’re the United States, because we’re a very large country, our teams can’t just drive and play together every Saturday afternoon so it’s a very expansive place to have to try and grow cricket. But in the next five years, we’ll need $10-20 million dollars a year to be competitive with the teams around the world at a minimum. We’re coming from budgets that were certainly nowhere near anything like that to get back in the ballgame with the top associates.
“We have to do everything in stride. Let’s just make sure we’re equal to the Canadas, the Scotlands, the Irelands, the Hollands and do what they’re doing and equal what they’re doing financially and on the field as well as development in schools, development in grass roots programs. Then when we get there, we look north again and we try to take on Full Members both financially, commercially and on the field because we’ve gotta develop the American cricket game so that we’re constantly improving our players. All I’ll say is that by landing the New Zealand deal, we’re more than on our way to meeting all these goals.”
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