School Cricket
By Sam Sooppersaud
Today, I got a call from Mr. Bassett Thompson, Cricket Commissioner of the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL). The league has been sponsoring a cricket tournament among the high schools in New York City for the past seven years. As far as I can ascertain, it is the only cricket program of its kind in any high school system in the nation.  Each year, the PSAL spends (hundreds) thousands of dollars to sponsor the cricket program, recognized by the ICC and around the world.

Bassett Thompson, Cricket Commissioner of the Public Schools Athletic League. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Immediately upon answering Mr. Thompson’s call, he said, “Mr. Sam, I am upset. In fact I am very upset.” I asked him what the problem was. He told me, in a disappointed tone of voice, “Someone stole both mattings from Kissena.”  Kissena Park is one of the many parks that stage the PSAL cricket tournament.  Bassett explained to me that they “Not only stole the mattings, they destroyed the container as well.”  Last year a matting was also stolen from the same park. Three mattings stolen from that park within one year/ that’s a shame. We have also lost mattings from other parks in the past, too.

Cricket fans, a large number of you have watched PSAL cricket this year and in the past years. You would agree that the kids do put on a good show for us. There are many gifted young cricketers in the program with outstanding potential. Many of these youngsters have gone on to represent the USA in ICC tournaments in Dubai, Nepal, Hong Kong, Ireland, Bermuda, Canada, etc.

At the present, more and more youths are involved in playing cricket in the adult leagues around the Metropolitan area, including the Brooklyn, EACA, Metropolitan, New York, Commonwealth, and American leagues. If you speak with any cricket fan who regularly watch cricket, he would be quick to tell you that the younger players are very exciting and many fans go out just to watch them perform.

Now back to Mr. Thompson’s complaint.  The PSAL season was completed with the Mayor’s Cup on Saturday, June 21st.  This was a Twenty20 game in which the Queens All-Stars took on the BBM All-Stars (Brooklyn, Bronx, and Manhattan). Queens won that contest handily. Anyway, the Commissioner was making his rounds around the various parks used by the PSAL to play their games. This is routine after each season, and it was during one such routine visit he discovered that the mattings were missing.

Cricket mattings are very expensive pieces of cricket equipment; costing close to a thousand dollars each, and each season the PSAL has to provide about twelve of these mattings. Sponsoring cricket is an expensive venture for the PSAL. In addition, they have to maintain a staff, pay umpires (at least), and subsidize coaches’ remuneration. There are numerous other expenses that must be met, as well, but the folks at the PSAL feel that the expenditure is worth the while. They reason that the kids are the beneficiaries.

The downside of this very successful cricket program is created (supposedly) by those who should be lending a hand to develop cricket. I know there are adult leagues that use Kissena Park for their cricket schedule. May I suggest that maybe “They borrowed the mattings and forgot to return them!”  This is a far-fetched supposition; however, these mattings were willfully taken. I would venture to say, and simply put, intentionally not returned to the box, from which they were taken.

This is equivalent to stealing from kids. On numerous occasions the kids have also opened the boxes and found that the spikes used for nailing down the matting have been taken. Hey, these nails cost pennies. How low can someone get, more so, for someone who I am sure calls himself a fan of cricket?

The Commissioner informed me that the two mattings that were “taken” have a special marking. He is making enquiries and following up on the information he has received. He wishes to point out that the PSAL is a New York City schools program, and the various equipment used is therefore, the property of the City of New York. It is a serious crime to “steal the government’s property.”

If and when the culprits who took the mattings are found, and they would be found, they will have to face the full penalty of the law. So if anyone has “borrowed” the mattings, please make arrangements to return them. No questions will be asked. You can contact the PSAL Commissioner or this writer, and arrange for the pickup of the mattings from wherever they are being kept at this time.

The English Common Law is very clear “The taking and carrying away of property, chattels….having a value, belonging to someone with the intent permanently to deprive him thereof.” This is larceny, a crime.   So, please, my friends, if you have the mattings in your possession, please arrange to have them returned as soon as possible.

Call me, Sam Sooppersaud at (718) 844-7236 or Bassett Thompson at (516) 668-3234. You may call anonymously, and your identity will not be revealed.