Softball cricket is a popular past time for many New York’s West Indian immigrants, but it would be difficult finding a better put- together softball player than Ronald Evelyn wherever you go in the country.
Forget the two Most Valuable Player awards he won in two finals out of the three biggest competitions in New York New this year.
Outside of the ambit of his bowling exploits that propelled Assassins to title wins in the Truck and Trailer 20 overs Mini World Cup and PK Realty competitions, exists a highly accomplished individual, not only in softball.
Evelyn was an excellent batsman in the traditional form of hard ball cricke
t and also a top class track and field athlete as a youth.
“It calls for a lot of dedication – training, sleeping early before games,” he states.
In only his second season with Assassins, Evelyn enjoyed the privilege of sharing in five title triumphs with the club between 2006 and this year.
When Assassins swept all opposition aside to cart off the hat trick of title wins last year, Evelyn made a big impact in all three competitions.
If he is not destroying the batting, no one could score much off him.
In Florida two years ago, Evelyn produced the incredible figures of five wickets for less than 10 runs to spearhead Guyana All Stars to the Inter State title. The Orlando team was cruising at 60 odd for two wickets, chasing 80 for victory, before Evelyn demolished the lineup before they reached the target.
United Stars were coasting a few weeks back, when Evelyn was introduced and snatched the game away with three vital wickets. He repeated the feat earlier this month by taking victory from East Coast’s grasp with another three wicket haul in the Mini World Cup final.
And were he given more than one over in Assassins’ solitary loss to East Coast in the Sheriff Jewelry final, the result might have been different.
Assassins though, is just one of the many teams to have benefited from Evelyn’s exploits.
On migrating from Guyana, he played a number of years with Better Hope which reached three premier competition finals.
The Guyana All Stars and Dream Team squads also enjoyed exemplary service from the right hander.
But it was not until this year, Evelyn was deservingly rewarded with two MVP trophies.
In the 1980’s when softball burst unto the scene in Guyana, Evelyn competed with distinction among the best.
Born and bred in Better Hope village on the East Coast Demerara, he developed his game with Better Hope Hustlers.
His crowning moment there earned him the MVP in a match winning performance against Malteenoes in a GSCA final
Over the years, Evelyn was rated one of the best young sportsmen from the village noted primarily for softball.
At school he was a Guyana track champion in the 1500 meters. He also did well in soccer and resisted offers to pursue a full time career in sports in the Guyana Defense Force.
In 1991, the then youngster came to New York and after a few years with the New York version of Better Hope, he took up traditional cricket and made a name as a number three batsman for Richmond Hill.
The right hander was good enough to captain the team which won three Eastern American League titles in his time under the leadership of former Guyana Under-19 player Zaheer Sadloo.
” I never played hard ball in Guyana and coming here I learned a lot from players like Pooran Mangru and Sammy Howard,” he disclosed.
He ended his Richmond Hill stint in style by taking the winning catch in one of the three finals they won.
Evelyn’s return to softball was encouraged when he was invited to join Assassins after his staggering display in Florida in 2005.
It helped that he averaged 63 in batting in a solitary stint with Long Beach in Division 2 the previous year.
There have been disappointments along the way though.
Being dropped during the Independence Cup this year, among a few other selectorial hiccups, despite his proven class, were examples Evelyn had to live with along the way, in the sometimes perplexing world of New York softball.
He feels Assassins has many talented players who can achieve even more with greater dedication.
“To tell you the truth I don’t think I have seen a better batsman than Kris Shobai here or in Guyana,” Evelyn says of the club’s top order batsman.
For next year though, he is thinking of returning to hard ball competition.
Coping with both levels of competition will not be easy.
He will have to give priority to one of the two, and should it be hardball, softball will not be the same in 2008, if not in the entire New York Softball Cricket Association, definitely in Assassins’ case.