January 2010 - Posts
By Rohan Chandran
Many years ago, I was a college freshman, watching Pakistan take on
the West Indies in an ODI (1990s Tip: Make friends with the guy who
controls the University C-band satellite dish). A dorm-mate of mine
was passing through the room just as the screen showed Desmond Haynes’
8,000+ runs in ODI cricket. Cue complete shock and awe – that one
person could score that many runs. He sat down and watched the
remainder of that game, and several games thereafter.
Cricket can indeed garner an audience, even here in America. There
is, of course, much that we must do to improve the standard of our
game, but in parallel there is much that we can do to make it
attractive, and that is what we focus on here.
1. Think Long Term and put Cricket First.
Short term thinking and ego-fuelled self-aggrandizement are not only
detrimental to the quality of our cricket, but also restricting our
ability to popularize the game. We’re all better than each other, and
busy looking for our own little glories, instead of thinking about the
game and its longevity.
How many people want to spend their free time following that?
For people to invest their time, effort and emotion in following a
sport, whether it is as a casual fan or a fanatic, they need to
reasonably expect some return on their investment. Being a fan is not a
one-night stand, it’s a lifelong commitment. For cricket to earn that
commitment from people, it has to make that commitment itself.
Soccer is still working to make it in this country, and it’s taken
50 years of concerted effort to get this far. If we keep looking for
quick fixes and plump for short-sighted solutions, at best we’ll have a
few false dawns (think Pro Cricket or MLC of a few years ago). Soccer
learned from its mistakes, and took a long-term approach, starting with
fundamentals. It’s working for them, and we would do well to borrow
from their experience.
So what should we do?
2. Get into Schools – It’s about the kids.
The US Rugby team consistently makes it to the Rugby World Cup, and
will be there once again in 2011. The team is currently ranked 16th in
the world, and has been around the top 15 for years.
How many rugby fans do you know? How popular is rugby in America?
Your likely answers are “none”, and “not very”. Will qualifying for a
cricket World Cup (T20 or ODI) have a different outcome?
Rugby has recognized that their biggest problem is that their sport
is only picked up in college, at the earliest, where it serves a niche
interest, but also as a fallback for those who don’t play other varsity
sports. Cricket is even worse off, played by people in their twenties,
thirties and forties. It exists as, and is perceived as, a recreational
pastime for those who hail from other lands.
Rugby is pushing hard to get into high schools and to involve kids
at an earlier age, and that is something cricket needs to do in a big
way if it is looking to create any sort of a broad base for the future.
Start where you have a cricket friendly population, and expand from
there. It’s okay to be the fallback sport for those who don’t make the
cut in the big ones. It’s okay if it’s immigrants and the children of
immigrants who are your first takers.
3. Develop cricketers properly.
We only have to look at our recent national squads, in order to
glimpse another fundamental problem. The senior squad Is comprised of
thirty-somethings (with just a couple of exceptions). But age is not
the enemy, cricketing roots are.
We have failed to develop players locally, and so boys who play in
our U19 squads, and perform at that level, disappear without a trace.
At the senior level, in come players who learned and developed their
game elsewhere, and are now in the US for non-cricketing reasons.
We do nothing to take the children who show real talent and promise
in the 14-18 age group, and develop them into cricketers for our
future. These are the boys who have to break into our national team so
that finally, we have home grown talent to support.
They don’t have to be white Americans, they don’t have to even be
American born, but until we create an environment in which someone can
learn or develop their game here, and then make it to the highest level
available to them (the US senior team), there will be little that’s
American about our cricket team, and therefore little that will appeal
to anyone outside the cricket playing fraternity.
4. Marketing – Kill the politics, and give people a hook.
If you want any sort of broad based appeal, then you need to make an
effort to market the game, and in order to do that, the game has to be
marketable to its potential audience.
First and foremost, nobody has time for the politics and shenanigans
that plague US cricket today. Look at baseball in the mid-90s, and if
you doubt me, ask the Montreal Expos who were having their best ever
season, lost all their fans and are now the Washington Nationals. Clean
up our act in cricket, and then we at least give ourselves something
that we can market without embarrassment.
Then follows the question of how we market it. We need to look at
what resonates with the target audience – the sort of things they might
- Collegiate Sports – For Americans, loyalty to their
undergraduate alma mater is lifelong. Pride in your college or
university is a big deal, and following and supporting its sports teams
are a core part of that. At Stanford, I was routinely asked about how
we did in the cricket Pac-10, and there was even excitement about the
cricket Big Game against Cal.
Unfortunately, the cricket Pac-10 did not
exist, and Berkeley no longer play in the local league. There are some
commendable efforts going on to create regional and national
inter-collegiate competition. If we can make this a reality, it will
be another big step forward in giving us a shot at being a popular game.
- Statistics – Follow the example of the baseball boxscore.
Be creative, and realize that the game may need to be marketed a little
differently in a country which doesn’t have the sport sewn into its
fabric. Cricket lends itself to numbers in a way that perhaps no other
sport does – so embrace that.
- Quality – At the end of the day, you need to provide a
certain level of quality to get mass appeal. Loyalty and fandom is
either born out of geography, or the attractiveness of a winning habit.
What I’m really saying is that we need to do all the basic things that
would appear in the “5 ways to improve the standard of cricket in
America” article – around our infrastructure (tangible and intangible),
administration, coaching, selection processes, and just basic
understanding of what the game is about at a higher level. White balls
and colored clothing are not the solution if it’s sustainable interest
that we are looking to foster. A quality product needs to come first.
5. Realistic Objectives.
So with all of that in mind, we come to what might be a
controversial point. Who are the “Americans” we’re trying to take the
game to, and what does it mean to create mass appeal and a national
Here I contend that we are fools if we think we can in any way
supplant or even exist at the same level as the major American sports.
It isn’t going to happen. Cricket is not made in the USA. You either
have to change cricket, make it an American sport, and then give it a
shot; or you have to think realistically about what cricket’s potential
place in the order is. Baseball took care of option 1, so we’re working
with option 2.
We need to avoid using “American” as a euphemism for “35 year old
white male from middle America.” We’re not trying to sell prime time
television advertising, and that person is not, and likely never will
be our audience.
Instead, we need to understand and accept that for the game of
cricket as we know it (and as it evolves globally), the “American” we
can go after is possibly an immigrant, or the child of immigrant
parents. That’s not a bad thing – it describes a node in most family
trees. If cricket can start capturing the children of immigrants first,
it then has a shot at their children, and each subsequent generation on
an increasingly broad scale. So rather than delude ourselves, let’s go
after what we can really get.
Now that doesn’t mean we can’t and won’t attract anyone else – I
think if we taken all of the above suggestions, and those made by
others in this series, we will attract many fans outside that base as
well. But that is where the core has to initially come from – they are
the messiahs who will spread the word, as it were.
[The author captained
Hong Kong U-19 from 1990-1992, and played with the senior squad in
1991-92 before moving to the US, where he has played with Stanford CC
ever since. He was also the first person to join Simon King in running
CricInfo back in early 1993, traveling the world as a journalist and
DreamCricket.com invites you to share
your views with us on how cricket can be made more attractive to
Americans. Please leave your comments below. If you would like to write an Op-Ed column on this subject, please write to us at email@example.com.
Tom Geoghehan ponders the 64 million dollar question - will Americans take to cricket?
And a lot of people weigh in e.g. Don Lockerbie (USACA CEO), Steve Massiah (USA Captain), Kevin Connolly (BBC's Washington Correspondent), Peter Wynne-Thomas (Author of The Complete Encyclopaedia of Cricket), and David Brooks (Sports Historian).
Click on thumbnail for full article. The most interesting parts are without a doubt the reader comments, and the following paragraphs attributed to David Brooks -
Given its need for facilities and equipments, it will need to take hold in schools and universities, says Mr Brooks. And Americans will need to be exposed to world-class cricket, although the time difference means that mostly happens when they are in bed or in work.
"Perhaps if the US team, complete with a baseball star selected by reality TV, qualified for a Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies, with a game or two in Miami, then perhaps, just perhaps, with the right marketing, cricket could get the exposure it needs."
Of course, the following comment by Depaul Singh is indicative of the great passion of cricket's expat fans - "I came from Guyana to the US in 1986 and arrived on a Thursday. On the Saturday I was playing cricket." The part about Depaul's being the "only shop in the US entirely devoted to cricket" is strange. Because we have a shop in NJ devoted to cricket. The truth however is that Depaul was an early entrepreneur in cricket retail and noteworthy are his pioneering ways along with other early cricket retailers - Stuart (who founded his store in 1982) and Bedessee.
By Peter Della Penna
had been a sour tournament over the last two weeks for Team USA ended
on a sweet note when they registered their first win of the ICC U-19
World Cup with a nine-wicket demolition of Afghanistan in the Plate
Championship to finish in 15th place.
Pic (Right): Team USA poses
for a final time on the field at McLean Park in Napier, New Zealand
after notching their first win at the ICC U-19 World Cup.
[Courtesy: Peter Della Penna]
Hammad Shahid was named Man of the Match with 3 for 18 opening the
bowling for USA to set up victory as USA bowled out the opposition for
86 before chasing down the runs in 14.2 overs.
“It feels good actually getting a first win in the World Cup,” said Shahid.
Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat first, but they could not
withstand USA’s attack led by Shahid. Afghanistan’s batting has
suffered all tournament after four of their top five batsmen defected
to Canada at the end of the World Cup Qualifier in Toronto last
September, including the second highest run-scorer in that event, Ayoub
Ahmadzai. Coming into this match, Afghanistan’s lowest total of the
World Cup was 118 in 49.2 overs against India. However, USA’s bowlers
teamed up to best that by 32 runs.
Shahid made the first two breakthroughs, getting Jawed Ahmadi clean
bowled for 5 before trapping Ahmadi’s opening partner Mehboob Shah Ayan
Aminzai LBW for 10 to make it 30 for 2 after eight overs. USA was
absolutely stoked in the field while Afghanistan completely capitulated
once the spin bowlers came on. The tweakers were led by Yash Shah, who
was making his first appearance for Team USA after leading all bowlers
in economy rate at the World Cup Qualifier in Toronto, and by Saqib
Saleem, who for the second tournament in a row was USA’s leading
wicket-taker, this time with 10. Shah built pressure with another
classic spell of tight bowling, finishing with 2 for 16 in nine overs
with three maidens.
“I just wanted to play in New Zealand to begin with,” said Shah. “I
just wanted to get the experience of playing in the World Cup. It was
unfortunate that I couldn’t get selected in the previous group stage’s
matches but I was happy to get this opportunity and prove myself that I
can do much better here too.”
Pic (Above): Henry Wardley and
Greg Sewdial receive congratulations from their teammates as they walk
off the field unbeaten. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna]
While Shah tightened the screws, Saleem gleefully flighted the ball to
invite false strokes from the batsmen to finish with 3 for 20 in 6.2
overs. Khushal Rasooli led Afghanistan with 23 runs and was last man
out to Saleem, caught in the covers attempting a booming drive as
Afghanistan were all out in 32.2 overs for 86. The bowlers were all
well supported in the field as seven quality catches were taken, a far
cry from the first match between the two sides.
“The last game we played against Afghanistan, we dropped a lot of catches,” said Shahid. “Today, we took all our catches.”
Henry Wardley and Steven Taylor eased USA towards the target, which was
achieved before lunch. While Taylor once again belted the ball around
the ground, Wardley caressed it into the gaps to keep the scoreboard
ticking. Taylor fell for 30 going for a big heave, but Greg Sewdial
joined Wardley to finish the job with Sewdial finishing 14 not out and
Wardley unbeaten on 27.
USA finishes 1-4 overall in tournament play, with one washout against
Canada. While the overall result wasn’t exactly what the players and
fans were hoping for, the players were happy to end the tournament on a
“I feel like we could have won the Plate, and I think we should have
won the Plate and if not, at least competing for the Plate,” said Shiva
Vashishat, USA U-19 captain. “But we had a loss against Ireland in our
groups, and then the rain and a couple things went against us. So that
really doesn’t show where we stand in the world and I think next time a
team is there, they’ll do a lot better.”
ICC U-19 World Cup Plate Championship: 15th/16th Place Match
Afghanistan vs. USA
USA won by 9 wickets
Afghanistan won the toss and elected to bat
Man of the Match: Hammad Shahid
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
J Ahmadi 5 7 1 0 bowled Shahid
MSA Aminzai 10 16 2 0 LBW Shahid
NUH Malekzai* 22 46 4 0 ct Shahid bowled Ghous
SM Shirzai 0 8 0 0 ct Saleem bowled Ahmad
H Shahidi 7 13 0 0 ct Wardley bowled Shah
K Rasooli 23 49 3 0 ct Vashishat bowled Saleem
AK Zazai+ 1 29 0 0 ct Taylor+ bowled Saleem
Z Zaki 4 6 1 0 bowled Saleem
A Khan 0 4 0 0 ct Shahid bowled Shah
ID Khan 2 10 0 0 ct Sewdial bowled Shahid
A Alam 4 7 0 0 not out
Total Extras 8 (1 no ball, 0 byes, 2 leg byes, 5 wides)
Team Total 86 all out in 32.2 overs
Fall of Wicket: 6/1 (Ahmadi), 30/2 (Aminzai), 36/3 (Shirzai),
51/4 (Malekzai), 53/5 (Shahidi), 66/6 (Zazai), 74/7 (Zaki),
75/8 (A Khan), 78/9 (ID Khan), 86/10 (Rasooli).
USA Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
SR Ahmad 7-0-27-1
H Shahid 7-1-18-3
YD Shah 9-3-16-2
MA Ghous 3-1-3-1
S Saleem 6.2-0-20-3
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
SR Taylor+ 30 24 5 0 bowled ID Khan
HR Wardley 27 46 2 0 not out
GR Sewdial 14 17 2 0 not out
Total Extras 16 (2 no balls, 0 byes, 4 leg byes, 10 wides)
Team Total 87 for 1 in 14.2 overs
Did not bat: S Saleem, RG Corns, S Vashishat, A Mohammed, MA Ghous,
H Shahid, SR Ahmad, YD Shah.
Fall of Wicket: 49/1 (Taylor).
Afghanistan Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
A Alam 4-0-26-0
ID Khan 5-0-25-1
Z Zaki 3-0-10-0
A Khan 2-0-18-0
NUH Malekzai 0.2-0-0-4
By Peter Della Penna
In a very disappointing display, USA lost their ICC U-19 World Cup
Plate Championship playoff match by five wickets to Zimbabwe on Monday
afternoon at Nelson Park in Napier, New Zealand. Man of the Match
Natsia M’Shangwe took 3 for 13 in the field for Zimbabwe before scoring
27 opening the innings to kickstart Zimbabwe’s chase.
overnight and morning rain delayed the start of play, the match was
reduced to 41 overs. Zimbabwe won the toss and didn’t hesitate to send
USA in to bat, taking full advantage of the conditions in Napier.
Picture (Right): Andy Mohammed tries to cut this ball from
Nathan Waller, but manages only to edge it behind to become USA's
second wicket to fall. [Picture Courtesy: Ganesh Sanap]
“The pitch had been under the covers for the last three or four hours
so I thought the ball would do a little bit early on,” said Dylan
Higgins, Zimbabwe U-19 captain.
While the bowlers did get the ball to move around quite a bit, USA’s
batting put in a shocking performance to be all out for 115, which
included six batsmen out without scoring. The first of those six was
opener Steven Taylor, who sent a rank long hop from medium pacer Nathan
Waller straight to Higgins at cover with the score at 4 in the second
over. Greg Sewdial then joined Andy Mohammed and constructed a decent
partnership of 34 runs, but it wound up being the biggest partnership
of the innings for USA when Mohammed got out to a similar ball from
Waller, edging it behind to the keeper Dean Mazhawidza for 9 to make it
38 for 2 in the 10th over.
After that, wickets tumbled at will for the Zimbabwean bowling attack.
While Waller finished with three, it was M’Shangwe’s leg-spin that
really dismantled USA. After clean bowling Shiva Vashishat for 17 to
make it 91 for 6, the flood gates opened up and he teamed up with
off-spinner Simon Mugava to rip through the tail as numbers eight
through ten, Saami Siddiqui, Regis Burton and Hammad Shahid, all got
out for ducks. Muhammad Asad Ghous was the last man out for 21,
finishing behind extras, 24, and Sewdial, 35, as USA’s third highest
scorer in the innings.
Post Match Interview vs. Zimbabwe with Shivnaraine from Peter Della Penna on Vimeo.
M’Shangwe set the tone for Zimbabwe’s batting order when he hit the
first ball of the second innings for six off Naseer Jamali. He teamed
up with Tinotenda Mutombodzi to put on 42 runs for the first wicket and
from there Zimbabwe never looked back.
Saqib Saleem tried to give USA hope and should have had a wicket first
ball when he came on in the eighth over as he got M’Shangwe to sky a
top edge to midwicket, only for it to be put down by Ghous. It was one
of four USA drops, none of which could be afforded with such a small
total to defend. Saleem finished with four wickets as it was clear
Zimbabwe were clueless against spin. However, the total of 115 was
something that gave USA’s bowlers no chance to defend. Most likely 30
more runs would have been enough. Instead, Peter Moor finished with 21
not out to see Zimbabwe over the line by five wickets.
USA will now face Afghanistan in the 15th/16th place match on Wednesday
at Nelson Park while Zimbabwe will play Hong Kong in the 13th/14th
place game. The last time these teams played, Afghanistan beat USA by
36 runs at the World Cup Qualifier in Toronto last September.
ICC U-19 World Cup Plate Championship
USA vs. Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe won by 5 wickets
Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to field
Man of the Match: Natsia M’Shangwe
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
SR Taylor 0 3 0 0 ct Higgins bowled Waller
A Mohammed 9 28 1 0 ct Mazhawidza+ bowled Waller
GR Sewdial 35 45 5 0 ct Mazhawidza+ bowled Price
S Saleem 0 1 0 0 bowled Waller
RG Corns 0 5 0 0 ct Mazhawidza bowled Price
S Vashishat* 17 47 2 0 bowled M’Shangwe
MA Ghous 21 54 1 0 bowled Chatara
SM Siddiqui+ 0 1 0 0 LBW Mugava
RG Burton 0 2 0 0 ct Waller bowled M’Shangwe
H Shahid 0 8 0 0 ct Waller bowled M’Shangwe
N Jamali 9 5 2 0 not out
Total Extras 24 (0 no balls, 0 byes, 3 leg byes, 21 wides)
Team Total 115 all out in 33.1 overs
Fall of wicket: 4/1 (Taylor), 38/2 (Mohammed), 40/3 (Saleem), 41/4 (Corns),
69/5 (Sewdial), 91/6 (Vashishat), 96/7 (Siddiqui), 97/8 (Burton),
99/9 (Shahid), 115/10 (Ghous).
Zimbabwe Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
T Chatara 5.1-1-11-1
N Waller 7-0-42-3
CW Price 6-0-18-2
SM Mugava 8-1-16-1
N M’Shangwe 6-1-13-3
DR Higgins 1-0-12-0
Batsman Runs Balls 4s 6s Dismissal
N M’Shangwe 27 30 1 2 ct Corns bowled Saleem
TC Mutombodzi 39 57 5 0 ct Sewdial bowled Saleem
N Waller 2 10 0 0 bowled Saleem
M Zambuko 13 15 0 1 ct Sewdial bowled Saleem
DR Higgins* 10 27 1 0 ct Corns bowled Ghosu
PJ Moor 21 19 3 0 not out
A Lindsay 2 16 0 0 not out
Total Extras 5 (0 no balls, 0 byes, 1 leg bye, 4 wides)
Team Total 119 for 5 in 29 overs
Did not bat: D Mazhawidza+, SM Mugava, CW Price, T Chatara.
Fall of wicket: 42/1 (M’Shangwe), 61/2 (Waller), 74/3 (Mutombodzi),
95/4 (Zambuko), 105/5 (Higgins).
USA Bowling Overs-Maidens-Runs-Wickets
N Jamali 4-0-19-0
H Shahid 3-0-14-0
S Saleem 9-1-38-4
MA Ghous 8-0-32-1
RG Corns 5-1-15-0
History was made for both Indian and American cricket on January 19th at the DLF India Premier League 3 Auction. Nineteen year old Harshal Patel, was among the three U-19 players, the first Gujarat Cricket Association player, and the first to have played any cricket in USA to join the Mumbai Indians.
For 19 year old Harshal, a USA Green Card holder who played the 2008 season with Aggressive Cricket Club in the Cricket League of New Jersey, this is a dream come true. (Well almost - his dream is also to earn a test cap!)
In Harshal's case, the journey was paved with hard decisions. When Harshal's family emigrated to USA when he was still 15 years old, he was in a dilemma. His coach wanted him to stay back in Gujarat. “I was aware of Harshal’s capabilities," his coach Tarak Trivedi said and he pleaded with Harshal's family to give him a couple of years. After much persuasion, Harshal's family finally relented, agreeing that Harshal would spend summers in USA but would continue his training under the guidance of Mr. Trivedi.
"I left a cosy life in New Jersey because I always wanted to be a cricketer," the second year student at HA College of Commerce told Times of India last summer, thanking his parents for encouraging his love for cricket. "I live alone and just practise day in and out. I have got lots of love and care from friends around me."
In fact, his years of independence may have helped. "By staying alone and managing everything on his own, Harshal has matured a lot as a person which is also reflected in his performance," Gujarat U-19 coach Ashok Mankad told TOI.
The IPL Draft - Proud Parents in New Jersey
On January 19th, the drama played out in three different timezones. It was mid-afternoon in India and IPL 3.0 auction was just winding down at the Trident Hotel in Mumbai. The event had already seen more than its fair share of extravagance and drama. Several big players saw no bidders and some like Pollard were grabbed for jaw-dropping amounts.
At 1:54PM, just before he brought the proceedings to an end, the IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi announced that Harshal Patel had been picked up by Nita Ambani of Mumbai Indians for Rs. 8,00,000. Harshal was the last of the three U-19 players to be drafted into the league, a first for that league.
For Harshal's parents - Vikram Patel and Darshna Patel, who are residents of Linden, New Jersey, January 18th had been another day at work at Terminal C of Newark International Airport. Vikram works with Prime Flight Aviation and Darshna at the Dunkin Donuts. They went to sleep hoping that their boy, who was in New Zealand as part of the India U-19 team playing in the ICC U-19 World Cup, would have a good day on the other side of the world.
Little did they realize that the emerging medium-pacer would realize his dreams of becoming a professional cricketer as the new day dawned.
Speaking to DreamCricket.com, Vikram Patel said, "Harshal has been playing cricket since he was a toddler and has been training with Coach Tarak Trivedi since he was 8. It is a matter of great pride and a source of great joy that his dreams have come true. And I hope that he will continue to do well. This is just the beginning."
Over in New Zealand, when he heard the news on January 21st, Harshal was so overwhelmed that “he was speechless,” Trivedi said speaking about Harshal's reaction to the news. Among the many things that Harshal was excited about was the prospect of being part of a team led by his idol - Sachin Tendulkar!
Harshal's next challenge will not find it easy to be part of the playing eleven - Mumbai has several big-name bowlers that will also be laying claim to that spot - Zaheer Khan, Dilhara Fernando, Dwayne Bravo and Dhaval Kulkarni. However, just being part of the squad will help him grow as a cricketer. In the words of Saurashtra captain Jaydev Shah: “Sachin’s guidance will make him a thinking cricketer, and he will benefit from this in future matches.”
A right-arm seamer with a big outswinger, Harshal Patel's rise was impressive from an early age. Harshal scored a double-hundred in school cricket playing for Hiramani and was gaining in reputation as a bowler. He took 23 wickets (at an average of 11) in the 2008-09 Under-19 Vinoo Mankad Trophy with best bowling figures of 5-27 against Baroda.
In March of 2009, Harshal was selected for India's victorious U-19 tour of Australia where he did well in seamer-friendly conditions getting 3 for 32 in a three day match at Perth. Very soon, he was named to the U-19 squad to the ICC U-19 World Cup.
Prodigious talent - Immediately made a mark in USA
In New Jersey, where he turned out for Aggressive CC in CLNJ in 2008, his talent was immediately noticed.
"In a match against NJIT, he shared the new ball with former international and West Indies paceman Reon King. And I remember it was Reon, who was standing at first slip, he was astonished with the young boy's accuracy and clean bowling action, saying to me that we have a star in front of us," Santosh Dani who played for Aggressive CC told DreamCricket.com.
NJIT and Atlantic Region cricketer Siddharth Mehta remembers the day like it was yesterday. He was the batsman facing Harshal. "We had heard about Harshal Patel because he had played U-16 cricket back in Gujarat with Rajdev Patel, who also plays in CLNJ. But he was only 16 or 17, so how bad could it be, we thought. But let me tell you, the boy was lethal! We were stunned to see the pace he was generating on a ho-hum New Jersey track! I said to myself - he must play for my team NJIT next season."
Little did he realize that NJIT was going to be competing with India for the boy's time! In the summer of 2009, although Harshal was on NJIT roster and spent the summer in New Jersey, he did not play because he was already signed up to play for India U-19. And even though he will become eligible for USA citizenship in the coming years, he may never play for USA.
Imran Khan, Manager of the USA Cricket team gets some press in San Francisco ahead of USA's world cup T20 campaign.
"No matter how far Imran Khan Suddahazai travels, the sport of cricket always finds him.
did just that when he moved to Saratoga about four years ago. Although
a lifelong cricket player — who as a youth had hopes of going pro in
his home country of England — Khan had no intention of sticking with
the sport when he made a new life in the Bay Area.
But he came
across a posting on the Internet from the California Cricket Academy in
Cupertino asking for volunteer umpires for its youth program. Khan said
he'd be willing to help out. But what was supposed to be a one-shot
deal turned into a yearlong coaching gig."
Click here for more.
By Ian Pont
(Third in a series of opinion pieces. Click here for first
. If you would like to contribute to this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Having played and coached in the
professional English cricket system, it’s always a challenge to work in
an associates’ system that is lacking in both funding and a
professional outlet. After 3 years as Assistant Head Coach with the
Dutch national team to successfully qualify for the 2007 ICC World Cup,
I have seen there are many factors that can genuinely help develop
cricket. And now, with 3 coaching visits under my belt to the US plus
numerous conversations with officials and those involved with playing
and coaching, I see far more clearly how the US can help itself.
1. Stop The Politics
In any walk of life people are out to make a name for
themselves, But when it comes to developing a sport, a far bigger
picture is important. More than making speeches, it’s useful for
officials and those involved with the game to actually DO things to
bring young players through. Initially, it may mean losing cricket
matches at various levels whilst people learn how to win. You will
often find managers and coaches of teams just wanting to get their own
personal record as good as possible and not think about how they can
bring talent through. The game is all about being fair, reasonable and
player focused. It’s never about administrators and coaches records
even though they like to think it is.
2. Develop Players Correctly
Get a development plan, stick to it and see it through. The
only way any country can make a sport attractive is to develop those
who already play first, so the national teams that represent that
country actually perform well. No media wants to cover a ‘minority’
sport where its teams are not playing at the highest levels. Or worse
still when they do, they are heavily beaten. It would be madness to
imagine that others are attracted to a sport where there’s no success,
outlet for success, nor the opportunity to take the game up further
after a young age other than for recreation. If cricket in the US is
merely for recreation, it’s competing with activities that take far
less time out of a day.
3. Coach Cricket Professionally By Developing 'Professional' Coaches
It’s worrying to note that so few high level coaches (or any
recognised level coaches) work in the US or are involved with cricket
in the US. It simply means that talent lies wasted, unfulfilled. The
best players require the best coaching, or at least specialised
coaching from experts who know how to maximise talent. And beginners
deserve the chance of access to the best advice. Parents are keen to
help but there’s a massive lack of coaching knowledge. A coach
education program with an awareness of what’s required to bring lads
through is vital. I have been lucky to coach at
first-class and international level with players such as Andy Flower,
Darren Gough, Dale Steyn and Shoaib Akthar, but most of my time is
concentrated on Under 19’s now because this is where the most good can
be done. For US to move forward, it must have coaches that can teach
the professional aspects of the game – and on a regular basis - with a
professional attitude to cricket.
4. Spend Money On Grass Pitches
As understandable as it is, playing on matting pitches does
not help the US with its cricket. Yes if it’s all that’s available to
get a game played then fine. Every region of the US should have at
least a couple of grass pitches and funding for this must be made a
priority. The US must seek to have two or three pitches that would be
suitable for ODI’s. This means the US could host matches from larger
countries. Most of the players coming through cricket in the US have
little concept of how to build an innings due to the nature of the
surfaces they play on and the type of cricket they play. It’s only when
players travel to Test playing countries they realise just how
different real turf pitches play. And however good a US player is, if
he has played only on matting then he has little chance of adapting.
5. Look At Your Neighbours
Canada has shown the way. I was fortunate to go to Toronto
with England Under 19’s as a player in 1979 to play in what was the
forerunner to the current Under 19’s world cup. We played on turf
pitches at Upper Canada College and it was a delight. Canadian cricket
has done the four ‘must do’s’ listed above and continued with that over
this entire time. And whilst Canadian cricket rises and
falls dependent on the cycle of players, they have embraced some of the
‘professionalism’ required in attitude to develop the sport on a
limited budget. Canada appointed the best available national coach for
their ICC 2007 World Cup (former England Under 19’s manager and friend
of mine Andy Pick, who is now ICC Associates Director for the Americas)
to work for 3 years at the highest level and scout for and develop
players within the system. Even on smaller budgets, there was real
progress made. There’s an Associates’ success story in place on the US
doorstep that would be worth mimicking, or at least reviewing and
My fear for the US is that the clock has
been ticking a long while now. The rest of the world is expecting the
US to step up and make cricket a viable option as far smaller countries
like Afghanistan, Ireland, Kenya and Canada have done. The lure of the
lucre from T20 cricket is lip-smacking. So the prize is a huge one. But
it’s the longevity of cricket, which is important as much as instant
success on the field. It’s a careful balancing act. What little money
is available has to be put into cricket resources. And like any
investment, it’s a calculated investment and not a huge gamble that’s
The urgent always overtakes the important. I just hope that the US can think about what’s important.
author is Founding Partner, Mavericks Cricket Institute (MCI) in UK and
is the founder of ABSAT Coaching Methods. He has written two books on
coaching - The Fast Bowler's Bible and Coaching Youth Cricket. Ian has made three coaching visits to the US in the last two years coaching on behalf of DreamCricket Academy.]
By Peter Della Penna
Walking around the grounds in Christchurch early this week as well as
the Queenstown Events Center on Friday, it was hard to hear anyone
giving USA a chance in this ICC U-19 World Cup. “You guys are unlucky.
You got drawn in the toughest group,” was a phrase heard early and
often, referring to the daunting matchups USA will face in Group B pool
play against Australia, South Africa and Ireland.
However, the glass half full mentality that is permeating throughout
Team USA’s camp says that despite the odds stacked against them, this
is a fantastic opportunity to take on the big boys and show the kind of
talent that exists in America.
Pic (Above): Team USA goes
through stretches before their final training session ahead of their
Group B clash with Australia. [Courtesy: Daniela Zaharia]
“Our main goal is obviously we’re going in to win,” said Shiva
Vashishat, USA U-19 captain. “But whether we win or lose, we are trying
to show the whole world that US cricket is growing and we want to show
that US cricket will be a threat in the future and hopefully we can get
some success in this tournament.”
Symbolism in how difficult this tournament will be for Team USA can be
found in looking at the distances they traveled to get to the World Cup
versus that of their first opponent on Friday, Australia. While the
American squad had to fly to San Francisco to then go on a 13-hour
flight across the Pacific Ocean to Auckland, Australia’s players
required just a short 3-hour trip across the Tasman Sea to reach New
Zealand. Still, Team USA is out to prove this is only one of many
obstacles that can be overcome in their path to glory and they are not
about to back down in Saturday’s fixture.
USA will be taking on a squad that features four players who have state
cricket experience, including three who have played first-class
cricket: captain Mitchell Marsh and opening bowlers Alister McDermott
and Josh Hazlewood. The standard of play that these Aussie teenagers
have seized upon is a big advantage preparation-wise heading into the
“Definitely the standard that the Shield cricket back home and the
one-day stuff and all that is of a very high standard, probably the
strongest domestic competition in the world nearly,” said Hazlewood.
“It’s developed my cricket. It’s quickly developed over the past couple
of months and improved a great deal so I think I’m in good stead for
the World Cup.” Hazlewood, who has been compared to Glenn McGrath in
the past, says that New South Wales teammate Stuart Clark has been very
helpful in giving tips on fine tuning his own line and length bowling.
Marsh and McDermott are two of several players on the squad that are
the offspring off some high profile Aussie cricketers and athletes.
Marsh’s dad Geoff played 50 Tests as a batsman for Australia while
McDermott’s dad Craig took 291 wickets in 70 Tests. Team USA’s best
claim to fame is that Regis Burton’s great uncle is Sir Vivian
Still, there are some positives heading into the match. First is the
fact that like USA, Australia went 1-1 in their warm-up games, beating
West Indies and losing to Bangladesh. There is also the fact that USA
can present a surprise element to Australia based on the fact that at
this age level, most teams have hardly seen each other and most
information about the opposition is limited.
“We don’t really know much,” said McDermott. “We haven’t really
researched much on any of the teams or anything. We’re just gonna go
out there to play our best cricket every single game and do the best
possible thing we can.”
Seeing the best cricket possible on Saturday would go hand in hand with
the backdrop of Queenstown and its international cricket facility,
which both sides agree is quite a sight to behold.
“I think it’s a lovely town, very scenic and obviously very touristy as
well,” said Hazlewood. “I’m very happy that we got drawn down here and
the ground just looks unreal.”
USA’s captain is hoping the scene will provide inspiration to pull off a big upset.
“This is on everyone’s behalf that our whole team thinks this is the
most beautiful ground that we’ve ever seen, probably will ever play
at,” said Vashishat. “The mountains, the grounds, the environment here,
everything is just so beautiful and perfect so we’re gonna try to make
the most of this.”
by Ben Miron
The sport of cricket has now been part of my life for just under three years, and like many cricket fans, I am completely obsessed with the game. I play cricket year round in the Houston Cricket League and watch as much international cricket as possible. I know there is a large foreign born population who are as equally obsessed with cricket as I am. However, I am now just finding out that there are other white, American born cricketers like myself. To me this is very refreshing, not only to justify that I am not crazy for spending every weekend at the cricket field, but it also shows that there is hope in expanding the game among other Americans.
I enjoyed reading Peter Della Penna’s article and believe that I can add to his insight with my own five ways to make cricket attractive to Americans.
1. Show cricket highlights on television
As a football, basketball and baseball-loving boy from the American South, I watched ESPN SportsCenter religiously. Of course I tuned in hoping to see highlights from my beloved Texas Longhorns or Atlanta Braves, but I always love seeing outstanding plays from other teams and sports. I believe that injecting some cricket highlights into shows such as SportsCenter would do wonders for introducing the American sports loving public to the sport of cricket.
Showing both international highlights as well as US cricket highlights would be very effective in making cricket attractive to Americans. International highlights showing an amazing catch from Paul Collingwood, a tenacious bouncer from Mitchell Johnson, or a huge six from Yuvraj Singh would spark interest in cricket by Americans. Additionally, if the occasional highlights from domestic leagues and tournaments were shown, it would help Americans realize there are other sports being played on their home soil, besides the standard football, basketball, and baseball.
2. Give Americans an opportunity to play cricket
After seeing cricket on TV while vacationing in London, I came back to the US and realized there was a large South Asian population at the University of Texas who played taped tennis ball cricket. After playing a couple of pick-up taped tennis ball games, I was hooked. I eventually began playing in a seasoned ball league in Austin and then in Houston where I moved a year later. Had I not had an opportunity to play cricket, I believe that my interest would have fizzled, and cricket would have just been that sport I saw on TV.
Through my experience, I realize that getting the opportunity to play cricket is a must in making cricket attractive to Americans. I think the workshop that Peter Della Penna discussed in his article is a great idea and needs to be expanded. By introducing cricket to children at schools, kids will see that it is a fun game and may be something they would like to continue to play and watch. Ultimately, with enough interest, cricket could be established as an interscholastic sport, similar to the PSAL cricket program in New York.
In addition to introducing cricket to kids through the schools, American adults should be given an opportunity to play cricket. Clubs and leagues have to do a better job in recruiting Americans, not just restricting the game to ethnic players who have played cricket all of their lives. Local cricket leagues could have an open house type event at the beginning of each season, which would allow Americans to try bowling or batting and possibly become interested in playing for one of the league’s clubs. Encouraging Caucasian-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans to play cricket would help Americans realize that cricket can be mixed into the US sports landscape.
3. Make cricket equipment more readily available
Playing cricket in the US is difficult for an American born cricketer. Not only have I been faced with the challenge of not having years of proper training on batting and bowling technique, but it is also very difficult for me to obtain cricket equipment. Essentially, all cricket shopping must be done online, which might discourage a casual cricketer. It is also usually more expensive because most of the cricket equipment must be imported from overseas and those costs are passed on to the consumer. If economical bats, balls, and pads could be purchased at local sporting goods stores, Americans would be much more likely to play cricket, both in their backyard with friends and recreationally and competitively in a local cricket league.
4. Show cricket on television
If cricket was currently shown on US television stations it would get a smattering of viewers; however the majority would be expatriates or immigrants from cricket playing nations. But after seeing highlights on TV and playing cricket in gym class or a local cricket league open house, Americans would be much more likely to begin watching cricket on television. I saw bits and pieces of various cricket matches during my trip to London, but it wasn’t until I had actually played cricket that I was willing to sit through a full cricket match.
Although it will be difficult for Test and ODI cricket matches to be successful on US television, Twenty20s certainly could be instantly popular. The shorter version of the game is tailor-made as a televised sport, and this would translate to Americans as well. Even though I had only been playing cricket for about four months, throughout the month of September 2007 I was glued to the computer at all hours of the night to watch the World Twenty20. I could only wish that these exciting matches were being shown on TV, rather than watching it on pay-per-view internet streaming sites. Today, I also enjoy watching ODIs and Tests, but still streaming on the internet. Twenty20s are a great way to get initial interest in cricket, and eventually once the American sports watching public has gotten used to watching cricket matches, there can be a market for longer forms of the game as well.
Of course, here in America, the almighty dollar drives everything. For people to want to play cricket it must be economical. Gym coaches are not going to spend their yearly budget on cricket bats and balls when they can buy much cheaper basketballs and dodge balls. Schools are not going to start cricket teams that drain the athletic departments’ budgets. The cricket loving public in the US must be willing to spend time and money in helping introduce their sport to fellow Americans. USACA has to receive more funding and designate it for youth programs. The ICC needs to help jump start cricket in America.
As evident in county cricket and international cricket, as well as tournaments such as the IPL, cricket can provide some very lucrative television contracts and other sponsorship opportunities. American cricket will not see these financial windfalls right away, but eventually it could be a reality. Cricket in America should be seen as an investment. Cricket is never going to replace football or baseball, or even soccer in this country, but there is an opportunity for cricket to make huge strides. It is going to take lots of time, effort, and money, but eventually there can be a market for cricket in America.
These are my five ways to make cricket attractive to Americans. I am sure there are 25 other ways to popularize cricket in America, but from my experience, these five ways would be very effective. My biggest regret in my short cricketing career is that I did not discover the sport until my senior year in college. I dream that cricket one day will become part of US sports culture and Americans can have a chance to see why cricket is one of the world’s most popular sports.
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Source: USACA Media Release
The United States of America Cricket Association today released its
Senior Men’s USA team selected to compete in the ICC World Twenty20
Qualifier and World Cricket League Division 5 tournaments in Dubai, UAE
and Nepal, respectively.
The full squad is Timroy Allen, Imran Awan, Orlando Baker, Lennox
Cush, Kevin Darlington, Sudesh Dhaniram, Glen Hall, Rashard Marshall,
Steve Massiah (Capt.), Sushil Nadkarni, Usman Shuja, Aditya
Thyagarajan, Saurabh Verma, Clain Williams and Carl Wright. Officials:
Imran Khan (Manager), Clayton Lambert (Coach), and Akhtar Masood Syed
Following a weekend long rigorous training camp at the Central
Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida last month, under the
watchful eyes of USA national coach Clayton Lambert, and New Zealand’s
Hamish Barton, USA Cricket Association 2nd VP and Director of Cricket
Operations Sheikh Manaf Mohamed today made public the list of players
and officials selected to travel from New York to Dubai on February 1st
and return from Nepal on March 1, 2010.
In Dubai, the USA will have practice sessions at the Sharjah Stadium on
February 4th and 5th, before a practice match at the Abu Dhabi Stadium
on February 6th. Another practice session is scheduled for February
8th, before the round-robin of matches in the World Twenty20 Qualifier
begins in Dubai on February 9 through 11, with the Semi Finals and
Finals on February 12 and 13 respectively.
The USA squad will leave Dubai for Nepal on Valentine’s Day, February
14. The squad will have three days of practice, before participating in
round-robin matches from February 20 through 27, with a rest day on
February 25th. The squad will leave Nepal two days later for the
journey back home, arriving in New York on March 1st.
This is one of the first times that the USA will have its Men’s senior
team and its Under-19 squad participating in back-to-back international
tournaments outside of the USA. The USA Under-19 squad is currently in
New Zealand preparing to participate in the ICC Under-19 World Cup and
is expected to return home at the end of this month. The United States
of America Cricket Association today released its Senior Men’s USA team
selected to compete in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier and World
Cricket League Division 5 tournaments in
Dubai, UAE and Nepal, respectively.
The full squad is Timroy Allen, Imran Awan, Orlando Baker, Lennox Cush,
Kevin Darlington, Sudesh Dhaniram, Glen Hall, Rashard Marshall, Steve
Massiah (Capt.), Sushil Nadkarni, Usman Shuja, Aditya Thyagarajan,
Saurabh Verma, Clain Williams and Carl Wright. Officials: Imran Khan
(Manager), Clayton Lambert (Coach), and Akhtar Masood Syed (Physio).
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