By Orin Davidson
Whether the tide will change  and usher in a new champion or the status quo will remain the same in the Independence Cup softball competition, it is not clear but  the 5th edition of the competition  is set produce thrilling action when it  blast off in Queens this 4th of July weekend.

New York Softball Cricket League President Eric Ferrier address the teams at last year's opening ceremony of the Independence Cup. (Photos by Shiek Mohamed)

Defending champions New York Softball Association Team will face five serious challengers to its crown and from all appearances they will have to be at their best to repeat their 2009 triumph when they carted off the Eagle Trophy and $4000 cash.

The opposition will comprise an  interesting mix of New York, Florida and Canadian team with exotic  names ranging from Bronx Dream Team, to Caracas Boys,  Okala and of course the Guyana All Stars , runners up last year.

Yet those teams will all have to impress on the ground where the NYSA team has been the most dominant force in the competition since its inception.

There is a big debate whether Kris Shobai or Andrew Gonsalves is the most prolific softball batsman in New York . Both are explosive hitters of the ball with a wide variety of strokes, but while everyone else is disputing the issue, NYSL is happy because Shobai will continue his allegiance for the Association team.

The explosive Andrew Gonsalves.

Gonsalves is yet to declare his team of choice this year, but he is a good bet to appear for Bronx Dream Team for which he spearheaded to triumph in the Florida Cup earlier this year.

The star studded NYSA lineup will retain all of the key players who helped win the 2009 tournament.  Peter Sookdeo, one the best bowlers around as well as Waheed Ward and Sunil Panday will play major roles.

NYSA defeated Bronx Dream Team in last year’s semi final which many pundits felt could’ve gone either way before the former team pulled out the stops at the end.

It is why Eion Ellis and company will have blood in their eyes as they look for revenge this time around. And the Bronx captain is assured he will have vital contributions  from utility player Kaleem Bux  and also from Amit Moonsammy and Gomel Matai.

The talented Kris Shobai.

Any team thinking it’s wise to underrate Guyana All Stars will do so at their peril as this team   came through as underdogs to go all the way to the final last year. The Prahalad brothers Bobby and Bhola who carry their fight, will harbor intentions of making it all the way to claiming the Cup for the first time.  They will be supported by Rabindra Ivan, Pooran Beria and Vish Napp.

Caracas Boys sounds like a fighting force coming out of Venezuela which is a power in Latin America baseball. But they are made up primarily of a group of New Yorkers with links to Essequibo, Guyana which Venezuela claims as its own.  However those boys will not have politics on their minds, rather they are thinking of upsetting the formbook on the field of play.

So will be South Florida and Canada, which has been making  another trip to New York for honors, and is e aiming to make  this year’s venture a successful one.

A prolific all-rounder Bobby Pahalad.

Every Independence Cup  is not complete without the Over-45 competition from which stellar performances are produced every time.

Among the front runners are the New York Association Masters, Better Hope and Queens X1.

So the stage set for a weekend of fireworks with bat and ball, with most of the action set for the Rockaway Blvd 150th Street ground.

New York Softball Cricket Association president Rick Ferrrier said he expects this year ‘s competition to produce some of the best excitement ever. And he is urging all cricket fans in New York to come out to support their teams and have a full filled 4th of July weekend.

The action will start on Friday and conclude on Sunday with the finals.