By Sam Sooppersaud
After three days of exciting and intense competition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the New York Chargers have taken the coveted 2010 US Open Championship. The Lauderhill Cricket Stadium and the two adjacent fields, along with the two cricket fields at Brian Piccolo Park, were the venues where eighteen cricket teams from various parts of the United States, and one from the United Kingdom went into friendly battle, all with their sights on a big, fat $25,000 check, courtesy of Cricket Council USA.  These were three days of Cricket Festival.

Mahammad “MAQ” Qureshi, CEO of Cricket Council USA. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

The tournament was billed as the best that would ever be witnessed in the USA. This was because several teams had signed various international players from India, Pakistan, and the West Indies. Also promised to be in action were players from various West Indies island stars.  For reasons that baffled the mind, these foreign superstars were unavailable to play in the tournament. This had absolutely no adverse effect on the level of play and competitiveness. After all, we have some “darn good” cricketers right here in the US of A. We do not need to have players from outside of this great country to show us how to put on a show. All those who were in Fort Lauderdale at the games will attest to this fact.

Having conquered in two days of preliminary rounds, four teams emerged to engage in the semi-finals on the third day. On this day, Sunday, December 5th, the NY United Chargers took on the Bedessee Florida Destroyers while the mighty Miami Thunder did battle with the Pakistan Magic, on the field outside the Stadium. The Chargers took the honors over the Destroyers while some magic was worked over the Thunder. In the Finals staged in The Stadium the United Chargers annihilated the Magic, steamrolling over them, and winning by 9 wickets.

In the presentation that followed the finals, Mr. Jeff Miller of the Cricket Council USA thanked all who participated in the three days of cricket extravaganza: the organizers, the sponsors, the cricketers, and the fans. “The Champions may be the United Chargers”, he said, “but the real winner today is cricket”. To this a roar of approval went up by all present. Yes, my friends, with those words, Jeff gave a most fitting assessment of what the US Open was all about. The promotion of cricket on our shores.

Accolades go out to all those who in some ways contributed to the success of this tournament. First of all the folks at Cricket Council USA, Mr. Mahammad Qureshi, Mr. Jeff Miller, Paul Mowatt at the computers and all those sitting in the nerve center – the media room performing different functions. Danny Khan, a former NY cricket buddy of mine, did a great job of implementing the logistics that kept the event moving smoothly. The groundsmen had an immaculately manicured field and wickets that were ideal for cricket. A special “pat on the back” to the knowledgeable fans who cheered the players on. Our very colorful DJ who kept the crowd laughing with his funny one liner. His choice of music kept the fans “tapping their feet”.

What can I say about the commentators, Lenny Achaibar and Carl Bennett! They are fellow New Yorkers, and I have listened to them called dozens of game before. But during this tournament they reached another level of commentating. They were exuberant in their vocal delivery. They shot off statistics. It was evident that they had done their homework. They gave precise descriptions of the plays, interjecting appropriate analogies, comparisons, and references. Lenny and Carl, you did a commendable job.

We all know that in cricket, it is the umpires who ensure fair play. They are the ones who see to it that players play the game in the way it was intended, a gentleman’s way.
They called “a heck of a game”. They stood by the decisions they made and made their presence on the field felt. They stamped their authority on the field. Yet they were friendly and humble to the players. Umpires from numerous states teamed up with the local ones and together did an excellent job officiating. From Orlando we had Joel Dookie (a former opening bat partner of mine in NY). Connecticut sent Umpire Pratab Bachan; from Atlanta, Umpire Grace Carrington; from Boston, Umpire Ramesh Naidu, and from New York; Umpires Carl Patrick, Hammy Reid, Steve Kalloo, Lennard Jagpersaud, and the president of the United States of America Cricket  Umpires Association,  Fitzroy Hayles. Kudos to you, gal, guys!

To the fans, you were a great bunch! You cheered the players on. You brought out the best efforts in them with your encouragement. It was refreshing to see fans that were applauding, not only the “good plays” from players of their favorite team, but cheering for all the other players as well. These fans were truly connoisseurs of cricket!

Despite the fact that only one team came out on top, praises must be heaped on all the teams for their performances. They gave of their best and made this tournament worth the time and other resources spent in staging it.  I must single out Steven Taylor of the Miami Thunder for his extraordinary feat of hitting a century. In the 20/20 format of the game, this is no easy task. He is an exciting young prospect for the USA senior team and should be nurtured very carefully. (It is indeed a pity that the USACA selectors have seen it fit to drop him from the squad going to camp in preparation for the Hong Kong tournament, but, here again we are dealing with USACA. Do we expect rationale from them?)

Team United Chargers, you played some “dynamite” cricket! The Chargers were always the favorite to win the tournament. After all, on their roster of players were one former test player, numerous former West Indies islands national players, and seven present USA national players.  In as much as they had the firepower, they still had to fight hard for their wins as their opponents put them to the test. It was only in the finals that they actually “breezed” through for a win, although at one stage when the Magic batted, the Chargers had cause to worry.  The Chairman of the United Chargers, Ralph Tamesh had said to me in an interview prior to the tournament that, “the Chargers are a well-balanced squad that can beat anyone at anytime”. You are absolutely, Sir, the Chargers did it!

Yes, it is truly the fact that CRICKET WON at the end of the 2010 US OPEN in Lauderhill Cricket Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The United Chargers took home the “spoils” but the winner was CRICKET.

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