By Sam Sooppersaud
It was a fun day on Saturday, September 26, 2020, at Idlewild Cricket Oval, in Queens, New York. By all accounts, a thoroughly enjoyable day for all in attendance at the 30th Annual Indo-Caribbean Federation Cricket (ICF) Trophy event, considering the “housing up” of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although I cannot confirm the total number of happy fans in attendance, the organizers ensured that the COVID rules, including social distancing and wearing a mask, were adhered to. Monitors were moving around the park, ensuring that attendees wore their masks. Those without masks were provided hand-sanitizer and a free face mask.
What contributed to the exhilarating day of pleasure? Let me pause for a moment! There were picnics all around the perimeter of the park, with revelers savoring delicious food and washed down with “the appropriate” beverages. Friends who had not seen others for years were greeting each other. New friendships were made. There was Bollywood singing by ICF Executives Jasodra Thakoordeen, Vanessa Matura, and of course, gyrating Bollywood dances by the reining ICF Queen Heema Singh a sensational young Indian dancer. The ICF tent was stocked with mouth-watering appetizers. A two-course meal was even available to any and everyone. Then, of course, the main events of the day, two Twenty-20 cricket matches. Anyone not at the park last Saturday missed out on a “belly-full” of fun.
Two Twenty-20 matches were featured. At 9:00 A.M., a representative Guyana Under-25 team took on a Caribbean XI Under-25 team. Following that game was the main event of the day, the ICF Trophy Match. A Select Guyana Xl took on a Select Caribbean Xl. The Caribbean side in both games included numerous players from the Asian sub-continent. Umpires Danny Khan, President, and Vijay Mallela, Secretary of the United States Cricket Umpires Association; two of the best cricket umpires in the United States, officiated in both matches. The Idlewild Complex was, as usual, well-manicured, as evidenced by the cricket ball motoring to the boundary ropes.
The skies over Idlewild were lit up. Not with fireworks, but with white, round, five and a half ounce objects; the cricket ball. The chief “pyromaniac” of the day was. Ridwan Ramjohn. In the first encounter of the day, playing for the Guyana Select Xl Under 25. He hit a masterful 85 runs in facing only 27 balls. Spectators were watchful, not wanting to be thumped by a cricket ball off the bat of Ridwan. He bombarded the bowlers for six 4’s and nine 6’s in his scintillating knock. The 100-run mark was reached in a mere six overs, with Ridwan scoring 81 of those runs. This bombardment of bowlers was the scheme of the day by the batsmen. The two teams hit twenty-three 4’s and eleven 6’s combined.
The Guyana Xl scored 173 for 8 wickets in their 20 overs. The most successful bowler was Sachin Persaud, 4/36, in his 4 overs. In reply, the Caribbean Xl fell short by 35 runs. Among the runs were Zahib Tariq (40) and Hamza Rana, 32. Capturing the wickets were Robin Rooplall, 3/14, Mario Persaud, 2/10, and Leon Mohabir, 2/27.
The senior match for the coveted Annual ICF Cricket trophy continues to provide fans with exciting cricket. The Caribbean side took first knock, and Dino Choweenam went after the very first ball. He skied it to long-on, but the catch was grassed. Two balls later, he was bowled by Arun Persaud for 2. Another wicket fell shortly after that, with the score on only 14. Skipper Renwick Batson and former Jamaica national player, Yannick Elliott, steadied the ship with an 84-run third-wicket partnership. Batson’s wicket was the third to fall, scoring 30 runs with two 4’s and two 6’s. Elliott continued his merry way, dispatching the loose balls to the boundary. He was the fifth wicket to fall, scoring 73 runs with five 4’s and five 6’s. Batting lower down the order, Mariano Dixon contributed an invaluable 34 runs while facing 10 balls and hitting three 4’s and three 6’s. The Caribbean XI’s inning closed out at 200/9.
Bowling for Guyana, Arun Persaud had 2/32, Terrence Madramootoo, Keron Sewnarine, Hemindra Ramdihal, Chris Patandin, Andy Mohamed, and Wasim Haslim, one wicket each.
Needing 201 for the win, Guyana sent out Andy Mohamed and Chris Patandin. The Caribbean XI skipper gave the ball to former Jamaica national speedster Reynard Leveridge, and the first ball flew perilously over Andy’s head. With his second ball, Leveridge sent Mohamed’s middle and off-stumps cartwheeling about eight stump lengths backward. Nicholas Chinkoo went next. He hit Leveridge for a boundary; however, the fourth ball of the over sent Chinkoo’s off-stump cascading back. Guyana at the end of the first over 2/5. Wasim Haslim joined Patandin, and both took their time and settled in. Once in, they batted more freely. Their third-wicket partnership produced 60 runs. Haslim, 18, was the third to go. It was then 3/65 in the eight over.
Needing to consolidate the inning, Skipper Hemindra Ramdihal partnered with Patandin in the middle. The pair stayed put for 42 deliveries and took the score to 131 when Ramdihal jumped out of his crease, attempting to lodge the ball over the fence. He missed, and wicketkeeper Francis Mendonca did the rest. Ramdihal was stumped for 42, which included three 4’s and three 6’s. The score was then 131/4, with 14.5 overs completed. Seventy runs were needed off 31 balls. Terence Madramootoo was the seventh batter in, and the first ball he faced went flying for a maximum over mid-wicket. A single later, Patandin jumped out to Elliott’s slower ball, missed, and was stumped. His contribution, 52 runs with three 4’s and four 6’s. With sixteen balls to go, Guyana needed 41 runs for a win. Madramootoo unleashed a barrage of powerful shots on the bowlers. Sixteen runs were scored off the 18th over. Twenty-five runs were then needed, with only eleven legal deliveries remaining. It was 176/8 at the end of the 18th over.
A voice in the crowd was heard saying, “If anyone can, ‘Coolie Boy’ can do it.” That fan was rooting for Terrence ‘Coolie Boy’ Madramoottoo to bring the game home for Guyana. A six followed by a four and another four. 190/8 with 4 balls to go, and 11 runs needed for victory. Madramootoo went after the third ball of over number 20 and sent it sailing over long-on, heading for a maximum. A coordinated and exuberant shout probably from the Guyana supporters went up around the ground, but Alex Haley, who was patrolling the long-on boundary, quickly dampened that enthusiastic roar. He jumped up and, with his right hand, parried the ball back into the field. He then picked up the ball, threw a strike to the keeper who dislodged the bails with Madramootoo out of his ground, run-out for an exciting 28 in 12 balls, including two 4’s and three 6’s. From the hurrah of excitement, the Guyana inning closed timidly at 193/9. Guyana had lost the ICF Trophy for the fourth year in a row.
The Guyana batting line-up’s main wrecker was Reynard Leveridge, sending down his fiery fastballs and claiming 3/24 in his four overs. He started the Guyana batting skid with two wickets in the first over of the game and earning the Best Bowler award. Yannick Elliott ended up with 2/27, and, combined with his superb batting, he was the deserving recipient of the main event’s Best Batsman and MVP match awards.
Commentators Lenny Achaibar, Carl Bennett, and young Matthew Achaibar called the ball-by-ball play, adding color and valuable statistics to the commentary. As usual, young Matthew Achibar was exciting and vibrant in his color descriptions of the on-field action.
I want to thank the ICF members and especially President Ralph Tamesh for their hard work in putting together such a fantastic annual event.
The 30th Annual ICF Cricket Trophy event was dedicated to the memory of Jasmattie Oree and Shereen Ramotar, the mother and sister, respectively of ICF President Ralph Tamesh. The two ladies passed away earlier this year after contributing more than 20 years of dedicated service to the not-for-profit organization’s efforts. Nonetheless, this year’s event was a success, under such grieving circumstances, and being held much later in the year, because of the current global pandemic.