By Sham Ali
(Celebrating 42nd Anniversary – Match #1181):- It was an eventful afternoon last Sunday at Bayswater Park, Beach 32, and Far Rockaway in New York when Cosmos took on Titans in their penultimate match of the New York National Cricket League Premier 40-over Competition. It was good day for cricket and the park was buzzing with activities from the Soccer field, to the skateboard Court, to the basketball court, to the Tennis court, and of course Cricket as well as a presence of law enforcement.
Of course the day began with one mess that is batting was only possible from one end to avoid any confrontation with the Soccer people who seems unwilling to respect the permit despite the umpire’s attempt to represent the same. However, on a very different note, playing from one end seems to be the norm in these ‘modern times’ for one reason or the other. When it is not due to the encroachment of soccer players, it is about the pitch or outfield conditions. Playing from one end makes mockery of everything that defines the game, especially in the premier competition, however, that appeared to be of no concern to most of the teams that are just lazy and have been spoiled in that way, because it is being facilitated by the Umpires. Moreover, It is everything that is not cricket, but try to explain that to some umpires and you will get a ‘logic’ that mirrors some of their decisions. One would expect that the custodians of the game, the umpires, would be firm in preserving the tactical intrigues and discipline of the game, but that seems to be a lost cause.
But the day was even more eventful and while the park was buzzing with activities as well as a keenly contested match in progress. And oh, here is a kicker. The NY Police Department had a social community activity with the kids to perhaps bridge a more amicable relationship between law enforcement and the community. Excellent! But Just about an hour after the NYPD activities ended and the police left, and we were in tight battle in the second inning, things ‘returned to its unfortunate normal.’
Shots were fired in the nearby basketball court just fifty yards from the cricket field. Scatteration Budday, if you see scramble, and rightly so!!! The area was abandoned within seconds, even before the sound of guns shots disappeared as parents grab their Kids any-which-way and ran in every direction. Chaos, yea that too. It was a most disappointing, upsetting and sickening sight; if there is such a thing in that area. With so many children playing and families simply enjoying a beautiful Sunday afternoon, it is distressing to see the bold and brazenness of the individuals who engaged in gun fire as was evidence in the way they calmly walk away from the scene and headed towards the skateboard Court and disappeared in the crowd.
What was even more shocking is that the ruling umpire treated the situation with callous disregard as one-of-those-things, and insisted to continue to play saying ‘that nothing else will happen; they will not come back, the police coming.’ Absolute NONSENSE! That is a patent disregard for the safety and well-being of the lives of others. The police did come, interviewed some of the players, did their work, and left. Did it occur to the Umpire, when he said that ‘nothing else will happen’ that these groups/gangs may have their lookouts to see who is talking? Just a thought. The players on both teams wanted to leave even though the match was in a balance. It begs for some common sense of the decision taken at the time, perhaps both teams should have been more forceful about the concerns of their safety. Maybe Guns and Runs go hand-in-hand, or Bats blocks Balls and Bullets and they miss the Umpires. Irresponsible is putting it mildly!!! One would hope that the NYNCL officials would address the matter with the seriousness it deserves and strongly advice on actions to be taken by the officials in the event of such occurrences again.
The match concluded. One team won and the other lost as if that was more important than someone’s life. Both teams packed up and left that place.