It’s the middle of winter but Lennox Cush hits the treadmill and weight machines at Cross Island Gym, nevertheless.
At a time when New York’s cricketers are hibernating until late spring when competition bursts fort in a flurry, Cush is maintaining the routine he isaccustomed to throughout his career.
He is enduring the Big Apple’s winter for the first time in years and it matters not, Cush has to maintain fitness because he is not about to end a stalwart career anytime soon.
One of New York’s most acclaimed players, he is just off a fabulous 2006 and expects even more success in the new year
Most of it was for Guyana team in Regional West Indies competition but the star all-rounder wants to balance it with more silverware, with the United States national team.
Last summer he became an official U.S. player and expects to help take the team to heights unknown in 2007.
This year, Cush will play with fabulous memories of winning the world’s richest 20/20 title with the Guyana team in 2006 after they took the West Indies 50 overs crown six months prior
He also helped the United States to a second place finish in the Americas Cup almost immediately after a grueling Stanford Cup for Guyana, which was worth every drop of his energy and time in Antigua.
The right-hand batsman and off spinner walked away with G $18 million ($0.5 G – $1US – .05G) and two days later was in Toronto for the Americas Cup.
Despite entering the competition as defending West Indies champions 50 overs champions, Guyana were not favorites for the US$1 million prize, but through excellent leadership and team unity they won the most talked about competition last summer.
“It was a tremendous experience for me and everyone else in the team which brought out the best in team spirit, which I think was the main reason we won,” Cush explained.
“Sars (captain Ramnaresh Sarwan ) always involved the senior players in the decision making and he knew how to get the best out of everyone.”
“He is someone who talks his mind which does not make him popular with some people, but the players understand and it helps in the long run, “ Cush said about the West Indies vice captain.
“In the entire competition we played the same team, there was no need for changes because everyone understood their roles, we were together united and got along well ,he added. “Crandon (Eusan) for example did not have a great time with the ball, but he contributed the most important batting performance in the competition for us against Jamaica.”
With two West Indies finals Man-of-the Match awards under his belt, Cush was handed a crucial role as opening batsman and opening bowler, which was a challenge in his first major-20/20 series.
Not daunted, he used his vast experience to lay a proper foundation in both areas, earning one Man of the Match award in the process which tested him severely in the unaccustomed role as opening bowler. “Bowling spin with the new ball is never easy, and I had to concentrate greatly on maintaining a good length all of the time,”.
Cush’s exploits helped Guyana defeat Montserrat, Jamaica, Grenada and finally Trinidad and Tobago in the final.
But were it not for the influence of his sponsor Looknauth Persaud , owner of the Kings Jewelry establishment in the West Indies and North America, the player says he might not have played. “He urged me to return home to play this competition, it being the first of its kind, and once again his input in my career was a rewarding experience.”
Though not being fully 100 percent, after picking up an arm injury, Cush still gave of his best to help the U.S. narrowly lose out to World Cup qualifiers Bermuda for the Americas Cup title.
They lost a crucial final game to hosts Canada, the other World Cup qualifier in the competition, which they eventually topped in the final placings, that cost them the title.
Cush alluded the loss to a batting letdown because, in his view, the middle order was not sharp enough.
Due to easy victories in their previous games, the batsmen outside of top three did not bat and were caught rusty when their finally took the crease, Cush opined.
“It taught us a lesson that giving everyone a chance to bat when the team is winning easy is important.”
For the future Cush feels the United States is in good hands. “There is lots of talent around, not only here in New York but all around the country. It is just a matter of getting the structure right,” he said in reference to management of the country’s cricket.
In team captain Steve Massiah, Cush said the accomplished right-hander is well set after carrying the batting for years, and after seeing Sushil Nadkarni, the brilliant opening batsman from Texas, for the first time the experienced all-rounder was highly impressed.
He also feels Rashard Marshall, the exciting Jamaica-born middle-order batsman, yet to make his U.S. debut is a rare talent. “He has a good eye and is very aggressive, but needs to balance it a little bit more”.
Cush is also high in praise of 15-year-old batsman/leg spinner Gregory Sewdial who he expects to have a rosy future as well as Akeem Dodson, the national Under-19 batsman/wicketkeeper. The national team bowlers though ,will get better if they train more often together and work on their fitness, in his opinion.
At the same time, Cush said they need more support.
He feels the time has come for U.S. players to earn individual sponsorship, but suggests better ways must be found for businesses to be compensated for their investment in the players.
This year the U.S. will vie for a place in the 2011 World Cup qualifying competition and hopefully get back into the Inter Continental Cup three-day series.
Never one to sit on his laurels, Cush is adding a new dimension to his life with a parallel career in real estate.
He is an established qualified agent employed at the Ahmad Group in Queens, has investments in his homeland in Guyana, and is grateful to his employer New York cricket benefactor Ed Ahmad, for allowing the time to play in America and abroad.
Apart from his duties with the U.S. national team this year, Cush, who made himself unavailable for Guyana’s current Regional commitments, plans to help New York regain its national title, represent his Trinidad and Tobago club, Title It Central Sports, play in Washington with Calypso club and also for New York Challengers.
No wonder he has to hit the gym everyday.
The treadmill and weight machines at Cross Island are developing a familiarity with Cush that seems destined to develop into a long-lasting affair.