By Sam Sooppersaud
I ended the last article I wrote on the 2015 PSAL Varsity cricket with the sentence: “See you next year at PSAL cricket”. (PSAL.org, 6/16/2015). I made these comments in the article I wrote on the Finals of the 2015 New York City Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) cricket season played between Richmond Hill High School and John Adams High School. Richmond Hill won that contest.
Cricket fans, the “next year” I referred to is here: the 2016 PSAL Varsity cricket season starts on Saturday, April 2nd. Since this cricket program was introduced and competitively contested by the high schools in New York City (High Schools in Staten Island are not yet involved), we have seen a large percentage of the players “graduating” to the senior leagues. A few of the former PSAL high school players have gone on to represent the USA in ICC (International Cricket Council) tournaments around the cricket-playing world.
The folks at PSAL headquarters who administer the cricket program do a fantastic job in ensuring that the tournament runs smoothly and competitively. There are certain basic criteria that the student athletes, in this case, the cricketers, must attain and maintain. PSAL auditors and schools’ Athletic Directors look carefully at an athlete’s all round performance in his school attendance, including his GPA and his ability to maintain a Pass/Fail ratio of classes taken. I will not dwell on this aspect too much longer, but I just wanted the public to know that PSAL is endeavoring to groom the “all round” athlete.
The program was inaugurated in 2008. Over the ensuing eight years the program has expanded, where in the 2016 season thirty four (34) schools will be playing PSAL cricket. Four more schools have joined the cricket program; Francis Lewis, Transit Tech, Clara Barton, and York Early College High Schools. The kids are very enthusiastic about the game of cricket as demonstrated by their application to their play. Nearly all the schools have foreign born players who have learned the game in their respective countries, and that knowledge is freely shared with other players who are now learning the game. Thus, a lasting camaraderie is being forged.
So far six schools can proudly say that they have been PSAL cricket champions: Newcomers 2008 and 2009, William Bryant 2010, Franklin D. Roosevelt 2011, LIC 2012 and 2013, John Adams 2014, and Richmond Hill, the reigning 2015 champions.
Except for the early years of the tournament, no school dominates the competition. Yes, there are teams that are much stronger that others, but somehow, there are hardly any “runaway” victories. With the addition of the new schools, the competition has just been turned up a few notches. Cricket fans, I guess you would just have to turn up at the parks and witness first-hand what I am saying.
The PSAL cricket season opens on Saturday, April 2nd, with games in Brooklyn (Marine Park), in Queens at Baisley Park, The Cage (Foch Boulevard), and Van Cortland Park in The Bronx. Over the years large contingent of cricket fans have attended PSAL games and they have been entertained by the youngsters. We expect no less this season. The program employs trained and qualified umpires from the United States of America Cricket Umpires Association allowing the players to compete with a high degree of confidence that there would be fair play.
The (immediate) administrators of the program, Ms. Lorna Austin, Cricket Coordinator, Bassett Thompson, Cricket Commissioner, and Ricky Kissoon, Assistant Cricket Commissioner, have been there since the inception of the program. Over the years they have conscientiously worked at “ironing out” the rough spots. They take pains to ensure that the rules are adhered to and that the program’s goals are being realized. Numerous personnel are working behind the scenes to ensure the success of the program. I am also involved in the program as a cricket coach. I can vouch that the program has been an overwhelming success.
The PSAL season starts in April and goes through to about the second week in June with the playoffs and the finals. Then followed by the Mayor’s Trophy Championship Game. In this last game of the season the all-stars from Queens go at it against the all-stars from Manhattan-Bronx-Brooklyn combined. The winners are crowned NY City Champions.
So cricket fans don’t miss this opportunity to see the future stars displaying their cricketing skills. Sometime in the future you may be able say that you were there when “that superstar was just learning his cricketing skills.”