ICUSA’s Winter Cricket League Tournament resumed last Saturday with three more matches. The highlight of the evening was the excellent performance of the teenaged youth team “Stripes”, whose current winning momentum earned them two wins. This had a positive impact on the team’s moral and self-confidence, which propelled them to the #2 spot in the tournament and enhanced their chances to be in the Super 4 round of the Tournament.
Ryan Persaud, who led the team, inspired his players with brilliant bowling spells. Riding on the crest of his soaring self confidence, which was boosted by his recent remarkable cricketing accomplishment, he led his team intelligently. He passed the West Indies Cricket Board’s Level 1 Coaching certification for having demonstrated to the Board his knowledge of the theoretical constructs of 21st century cricket coaching techniques at the age of 14. He is now 15, perhaps, the youngest American Cricket Coach to have satisfied the requirements for the WICB Level 1 Cricket Coaching Certificate. This success was transformed into self confidence on the field of play and that served the “Stripes” very well.
“Sparky Lady” had mixed results. They defeated the “Stars” team, before losing to the “Stripes” who dampened their sparks which were in full glow prior to the ‘Valentine’s week-end adjournment. The “work in progress” team “Stars” continued their path along the cricket learning curve with flashes of brilliance, especially in the fielding. This team is having lots of fun and are enjoying themselves in the learning process. Evidence of this is reflected in the volume of their noise making, in which their tongues and wild gesticulations seem to take precedence over bat and ball as they overcome the despair of defeat with the jubilation of learning.
Sparky Lady vs. Stars
“Sparky Lady” fielded first. Motivated by their recent performance, which captured the attention of the spectators, they moved around, in the field with pep in their steps, and a desire to display the passion and techniques of youths. In so doing, they restricted the noisy “Stars” to 109. Mustahsan Mirza and Atif bowled tightly to concede a miserly 9 and 8 runs respectively in their spells. Atif was outstanding with 8 dot balls, no wides, nor no-balls in his 12 deliveries. That was a splendid lesson in disciplined bowling for the young players to have experienced. For the batters, the improving Tahir Latif batted intelligently with Amogh Karwar to give their team a solid start with a 34 runs opening partnership. That score was built upon by an addition of 39 extras made up mainly of wides and no-balls. Captain Adithya Nagaraja tried his best at the end of the inning with an aggressive intent, which included the stroke of the evening- an orthodox 6 off the last ball of the innings.
In reply, “Sparky Lady” scored 133 which was highlighted by an aggressive opening stand of 60 runs, between its two of their elders Mustahsan Mirza and Jerry Ragoobir. That start eased the pressure on the batters that followed and enable “Sparky Lady” to win comfortably. The “Stars” bowlers’ lines and lengths left much to be desired, although their pace was encouraging. Anush got 2 wickets while Amogh Karwar and Omar Latif got a wicket each.
Stars vs. Stripes
This match was one featuring youths in motion as teenage players pitted their skills against each other. Players had their own personal friendly wagers and challenges with each other as sub-plots of the match in general. This lent itself to much amusement throughout the game as the banter among the young modern generation was hilariously entertaining for spectators. “Stripes” batted first and amassed 129 with Amaar Azeem and Saif Mohamed sending their team off to a very good start with a 54 run partnership. The batters that followed consolidated the innings with solid, smart and intelligent batting. Ghous was “Stars’ best bowler. He took 2 wickets for 12 runs and in the penultimate over of the innings, he restricted the batters to a mere 4 runs and effected a dismissal.
In reply “Stars” were dismissed for 82, with all the “Stripes” bowlers performing to expectations. Parth Tharnari was the best bowler, bowling 7 dot balls and conceding only 5 runs off the bat in his 2 overs spell. Captain Ryan Persaud accounted for 2 wickets in the final over of the match. Extras accounted for 49 runs in the total. Out of the total runs (211) scored in the match 100 runs were extras. This is an area that demands serious attention from the youths and their coaches.
Sparky Lady vs. Stripes
In the evening’s final game the confident youth team “Stripes” dampened the earlier sparks of “Sparky Lady” as youthful energy and enthusiasm prevailed over age and maturity.
“Stripes” batted first and methodically put together a competitive 117 after Saif Mohamed and Ammar Azeem got their team off to a solid start with a 44 runs opening partnership. Kareem Latif and Ryan Persaud consolidated with a further 44 runs second pair partnership. “Sparky Lady” last pair of bowlers Haider and Waseem restricted the aggressive Cameron Mirza and Parth Tharnari who were unable to capitalize on the work done by their previous batters. Haider was especially miserly by dismissing both batsmen in the ninth over of the innings and conceding only 9 runs in his bowling spell at the death of the innings.
“Sparky Lady” was off to a flying start as Mustahsan Mirza and Jerry Ragoobir put together 52 runs off the bowling of Kareem Latif and Saif Mohamed. However “Stripes” tactics and strategies revolved around the use of their bowlers at the appropriate time in the innings. This paid off well for the youths as Ryan, Parth, Cameron and Amar bowled smartly at appropriate times. This built pressure and tension on their opponents and led them to victory. The second and third pair of batters was restricted as they were unable to build on the good work done by their openers. Captain Ryan Persaud was outstanding with his leg-breaks, at critical points in the game. He got a wicket in the 8th. Over and followed up in the 11th over with 2 more wickets for an excellent bowling analysis of 2 overs 3 wickets for minus 7 runs. His control of line, length, and flight was a model of excellence and the batsmen were unable to cope.
It was refreshening to see the young “Stripes” team putting into practice the concept of cricket being a team game by a series of on the field discussions. Each player was participating and at the end of those discussions one sensed a purposeful effort by all the fielders to implement what was agreed upon in those sessions. While such a refreshening occurrence among young cricketers is laudable, one has to remind them to be careful to ensure that the flow of the game is not interrupted by too lengthy discussions while fielding. That is a task that their Captains, coaches and managers have to deal with.
This week-end matches will involve Royals, Galaxy, Stars and Stripes. As the tournament moves forward to its Super-4 stage schedule for April 3 rd.
Reporting for ICUSA from Cricketers’ Paradise Morristown, New Jersey