By Coach Sam
The final battle for the coveted 2011 PSAL Varsity Cricket Championship will be fought on Saturday, June 18, 2011, beginning at 2:00 P.M. at the Baisley Park Cricket Field, located at the intersection of Rockaway, Sutphin, and Baisley Boulevards, in Jamaica, Queens, New York.

Long Island City High School coach have a chat with his players. Photos by Shiek Mohamed

The contenders for the top prize in high school cricket in the Big Apple will be Franklin D. Roosevelt Cougars of Brooklyn and Long Island City High School of Queens, New York. both teams having successfully played their way through the several rounds of playoff games and the semi final.

Before giving more details on the journey traversed on the way to the Final by these two top cricket playing schools, I will touch briefly on the Finals in the three previous PSAL Cricket Tournaments.

The PSAL Varsity Cricket Program was inaugurated in March of 2008. PSAL Director Donald Douglas, Cricket Commissioner Bassett Thompson, Cricket Coordinator Lorna Austin, and Assistant Commissioner Ricky Kissoon are the visionaries of this first-of-a-kind high school cricket program in the entire United States of America.  PSAL, the NY Board of Education, along with the high schools worked long and hard at developing the cricket program. Once all the administrative details and logistic were worked out, PSAL Varsity Cricket became a reality in the Big Apple high schools.

FDR High School players.

In 2008 Newcomers Lions became the Champions when they defeated John Adams High School in the Final. Again, in 2009 Final, these same two teams met with Newcomers once again defeating John Adams. In 2010 William C. Bryant in a dominant display of skillful cricket became the Champions by defeating the powerful Richmond Hill High in the Final.

Now let me take you on the journey traversed by the FDR Cougars and Long Island City High School on their way to the Final of the 2011 PSAL Championship. At the end of the preliminary rounds FDR was the #1 seed with a 12-0 win/loss record. In the first round of the playoffs they met DeWitt Clinton High School whom they defeated comfortably. In the Quarter-Final FDR played Sheepshead Bay High School. In a very closely contested game (the match was decided in the last over) FDR came out on top.  The William C. Bryant Owls who are the defending champions were the next victims of the FDR onslaught.

As for Long Island City, no other word but ‘miraculous’ can be used to describe their ascendancy to the Final of the 2011 PSAL Cricket Program. In the previous three years of the cricket program, 2008, 2009, 2010, LIC were a virtual “walkover” for any school scheduled to meet them. The thought was that if LIC were the opponents then a win for the other team in a definite certainty. but that was then, now it is a different story.

This 2011 season for LIC has been a storybook scenario with the actors being the players and Coach Dharamveer Gehlaut. The team started the season by loosing their first two matches. (to Aviation H.S and William C. Bryant H.S). They did not get discouraged, but instead went back to the drawing board and from thence, produced a gem of a season, winning their next thirteen games on their way to the Final.(10-2 in the preliminaries and 3-0 in the playoffs, so far). In the First Round of the playoffs L.I.C. defeated last year’s finalists, Richmond Hill High School. They then went on to edge out John Adams High School in the Quarter Finals. Abraham Lincoln were no match for LIC when they met in their Semi Final encounter.

In their Semi Final match, FDR literally annihilated William C. Bryant, bowling them out for a paltry 49 runs while surpassing that score in the 6th over, loosing just one wicket. What went wrong for Bryant! The game was scheduled for a 4:00 P.M start. For some reason or the other, the Bryant coach did not arrive at the ground until 4:45 P.M. Needless to say, this tardiness impacted the Bryant players negatively, the mood from which they never recovered, as they were bombed out in the game. In the other Semi Final game Abe Lincoln, who on paper and man for man, had a better team, self-destruct (getting three Run Outs) and literally handing over victory and a spot on the Final to LIC.

This coming Saturday, June 18, the PSAL Final will be played at Baisley Park, in Queens, N.Y. According to the pundits FDR are the better of the two teams, boasting two centurions in this year’s tournament. The Tariq brothers and Mohaminul Islam would be a force for LIC to reckon with. On the other hand, LIC do not have any one dominant player but rely heavily on the collective efforts of all the team members who are average players when it comes to skill. But, during the regular season they have demonstrated that they do not need a superstar to help them win, they do fine with what they have, after all they won thirteen games straight to propel themselves in the Final with FDR.

This contest will be a kind of a David and Goliath encounter, FDR’s strength and ability opposing the wit and positive attitude of the LIC team. So cricket fans don’t miss this exciting game. Come out to Baisley Park. Bring your family and friends, your picnic basket, your refreshments and have a day of fun and at the same time witness an exciting cricket final.