By Sam Sooppersaud
Cricket fans, if you think that cricket is (almost) over, then you have just wasted a thought. Yes folks, cricket is far from being over for this season. Yes, we have been at the various parks since May, in most of the leagues, around the New York Metropolitan area. The Masters have been at it as of June. We have so far played cricket, exciting cricket, for over fifteen weeks. Most clubs have played at least twelve games.
Last Sunday (September 2nd) the Final of the Eastern American Cricket League Power 40 Zone A was concluded. Everest/ACS convincingly defeated Atlantis to retain the championship. This coming Sunday, September 9th, Falcons Cricket Club would do battle with Victory Cricket Club in the Final of the Power 40 Zone B. Both clubs have played exciting cricket during the preliminary rounds and the expectations of cricket fans are that the game would live up to the reputation of both clubs.
From past experience, I know that cricket fans stay away from the parks once the final of the so-called strong division is played. The reasoning is that, who wants to come out and watch the “weak” teams play! But fans there are no such distinction in the EACA. It is just that two Zones or Division have been created because of the large number of clubs that have registered to play in the EACA. The teams have been grouped in such a way so that a steady and high level of competition would be on display. So come out and see Falcons and Victory fight it out.
Prior to this Sunday’s Final another important cricket game will be played. The Indo-Caribbean Federation would stage a cricket game between friendly rivals, Guyana and Trinidad. It is another chapter of Indian Arrival Day activity. Both teams are expected to be star-studded. These two countries have met numerous times in different tournaments and victory has pendulum between them.
Trinidad and Guyana have so much in common; there are many differences, also. The Indian (descendants) have come to both nations through the system of Indian indentureship. The British brought the forefathers (and mothers) from South India in the early nineteenth century to provide a labor force on the sugar estates. The earliest arrivals were in Trinidad and British Guiana (Guyana).
There is a large descendant Indian population in both countries. The Indian population has thrived and is contributing in the various segments of life. In politics Indians have occupied the highest positions in government. At this present moment Donald Ramotar is the President of Guyana while another ancestor of an indentured laborer, Kamla Persaud-Bissessar, is the Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago.
Both nations were once British colonies. From the British we learnt the sport of cricket. In fact we have learnt it so well that we compete against them. We have produced numerous test cricketers who have represented the West Indies with much success (and pride). From Guyana: Ivan Madray, Rohan Kanhai, Joe Solomon, Faoud Bacchus, Sew Shivnarain, Alvin Kallicharran, Shiv Chanderpaul, Ronnie Sarwan, Narsingh Deonarine, and many others. From Trinidad: Nyran Asgarally (a WI opening batsman in the 50’s), Rangie Nanan, Dereck Murray, Ravi Ramphal, Sunil Narine, Darren Ganga, Sonny Ramadin, and others. So we, people of Indian descent, can proudly say that we have contributed immensely in the development of Caribbean cricket.
In the 50’s and 60’s the cricket rivalry in the West Indies was always “ever-present” between British Guiana and Trinidad. This very winning attitude has been revived by the sons of the respective motherland who have migrated to the USA and have maintained the love of the sport. Whenever a predominantly Guyanese club is playing a predominantly Trinidadian club there is always a large partisan crowd (by NY standard) rooting for each team. Fans, come out this coming Saturday and enjoy the game. The cricketers would not disappoint you.
Talking about cricketers I know it is always a great advantage when a team has an all-rounder. Better yet if there are several all-rounders in the Eleven. An all-rounder is a player who has the ability to contribute both with the bat and the ball. Gary Sobers is regarded as the greatest all-rounder of all time. Some other greats around the world with this ability are Kapil Dev (India), Imran Khan (Pakistan), Ian Botham (England), to name a few from test playing nations.
In the New York area there is a new breed of cricket all-rounder who are NOT welcomed in cricket. They tend to bring the game to disrepute rather than contribute to its progress. This “new all-rounder” is the PLAYER/UMPIRE. Player/Umpire! Mr. Writer, please explain… I have been at numerous games and have seen and experienced (when I stood as an umpire) players telling the umpire (at times, rudely) what they think the decision should be. “Umpire, you are wrong, the ball hit him plumb”, or “that was a wide,” or “you can’t call ‘no-ball’ unless the square-leg umpire signaled you”, this is for a ball pitched on the full above the waist of the batsman. It seems that someone is almost always complaining to (and about) the umpire if the appeal does not go his way. Sadly enough, the more seasoned players are the ones who engage in this unsportsmanlike practice. This is setting a very bad example for the younger players. League administrators must work to bring an end to such behavior on the part of players.
About the umpires and umpiring. I would like for someone to explain to me why do umpires have to set the field of play? As a young boy growing up literally on the cricket field I have always seen (and believed) the hosting (home) team preparing the field. In these days of Limited Over and Twenty20 Cricket, setting the 30-yard circle is a part of the field preparation. Hence it is the duty of the home team to mark off the circle. Why is this left for the umpires to do? I am sure many of you cricket fans watch International cricket or have gone to a firs-class game. Have you ever seen A Steve Bucknor or Steve Davis (Umpires) walking around setting the 30-yard circle?
For the first time this season the Eastern American Cricket Association (EACA) are emulating international standard by requiring players to wear colored uniforms, and by the use of two white balls per innings (one at each end). Shouldn’t we administrators and cricketers help in this effort by doing the right thing. In every facets of life there is some form of job description with each having its specific duties for the person holding that position. It is the same with cricket.
In cricket we have the bowler. He bowls the ball, the 6 deliveries. He does not bowl 3 and then ask another player to complete the over. (An exception is if he injured during the over, then another player completes the over). Again, a substitute is a player who temporarily fields for an appointed player when he is off the field. (For various reasons). The substitute does not bowl. He does not bat. He does not keep wicket….The wicketkeeper is behind the stumps. He remains still during the bowler’s run-up. Unlike the other fieldsmen, who can “move in with the bowler”. Each has its own function. The same way it is the grounds man’s job to prepare the wicket and the field of play. Unfortunately, in our present day cricket in New York many teams do not have a grounds man. The players, therefore are the Grounds man. They are the ones who are saddled with the obligation of preparing the field, the 30-yard Circle included.
For the past five years or so I have assisted whenever I am available in umpiring games in various leagues. I have always refused to set the 30-yard circle. Yes, my duty as an umpire, is (was) to VERIFY that the field is set according to regulations. To verify, not set the field. I have spoken to several umpires and they agree with my position but say that “they want us to set the circle” Who are they, may I ask?
Fans, administrators, and players please send me your comments. My e-mail: Ssamrajs@verizon.net. You may also make your comments at the end of this article on the website.