Enthusiasm, Energy, Entertainment
High School Cricketers Ready To Go
By John L. Aaron
March 27th, 2008
So, they were not resplendent in their match whites, in fact
many did not even wear white. But then who can blame the youngsters
for not deviating from the seasonal fashion requirement of
not wearing white until the official start of summer, or in
this case the cricket season.
The runway was the “cage,” also known as one of
the Baisley Pond Parks in Queens, New York. It was a chilly
39 degrees with fashion consciousness dictated by the weather
and demanding layers, regardless of colors, but the high school
cricketers, part of the New York City’s PSAL pilot cricket
program were gung-ho on getting some much needed practice
outside the toasty gyms of their schools.
an eye on the game are (l to r) Donald Douglas, PSAL
Exec. Dir., Lorna Austin, Asst. Admin. of the PSAL program,
Commissioner Bassett Thompson, USACUA VP Fitzroy Hayles
and PSAL's Assistant Cricket Commissioner Ricky Kissoon.
(Photos by John Aaron)
PSAL program conceived almost two years ago, received technical
support from Carlyle Miller, then the Regional Representative
of the New York Cricket Region to the United States of America
Cricket Association (USACA). Miller, himself an immigrant
cricketer from Guyana, where he represented that country at
the national levels of the sport, is very passionate about
the game and is no doubt encouraged by the response to the
pilot program in the New York schools system, so far.
The current New York Cricket Region’s administration
has pledged its full support behind the program and stands
ready to provide whatever technical or other help may be needed
to see the 20 overs pilot program off of the ground.
With a start date a few weeks away, the students of Aviation
and Prospect high schools, along with their coaches, last
Sunday converged on the small urban patch of soil deemed a
cricket pitch, and off of Foch Boulevard in Queens, with an
energized level of enthusiasm.
Although Aviation High, coached by Wesley Henry looked the
better prepared of the two teams, both in uniforms and pre-game
drills, in the end it was the diminutive XI coached by Lenston
Elliot from Prospect High and mainly via Bangladesh, who emerged
winners. It was a closely fought battle that was not decided
until the final over was bowled.
The Twenty20 match provided great entertainment for onlookers,
several of whom play in the New York leagues, as they admired
the prowess of the young cricketers, a few of whom have already
played alongside their senior counterparts in the New York
On Monday afternoon, it was two of the already top-seeded
high school teams; John Adams, coached by Alex Navarrete,
and Richmond Hill, coached by Lomarshan Persand, who took
to the same field and under the watchful eyes of PSAL Commissioner
of cricket Bassett Thompson, once more.
Again, no fashion awards were distributed, except for the
two official umpires from the United States of America Cricket
Umpires Association (USACUA), who were in their official match
whites. The national umpires association is one of the cricket
organizations that have been at the forefront of support for
the program, which is expected to see its first five matches
on April 1, 2008.
Richmond Hill batting first was all out for 78 after 16 overs,
in the Twenty20 affair. The top scorer Yashpaul, 8, failed
to reach double figures, which would strongly suggest that
Mr. Extras was the top scorer. It is still too early and cold,
for the bowlers to find their line and length and the fielders
to warm up in the almost frigid-like temperatures. John Adams’
Abdul grabbed three wickets.
In reply, John Adams romped home to the victory and an out-pouring
of their bench unto the field. John Adams’ Amandeep
Singh top scored with a solid 18, as his school reached 79
for the loss of seven wickets in 14 overs. Richmond Hill’s
Jason had a bucket of five wickets, in the losing cause.
Cricket Commissioner Thompson was very impressed with the
energy brought by the players who are all, if not mostly,
the sons of immigrant parents from the Caribbean and South
Asia, where cricket is the dominant sport.
Monday’s encounter saw Commissioner Thompson joined
by Donald Douglas, PSAL Executive Director and Lorna Austin,
Assistant Administrator of the PSAL program, along with the
cricket program’s Assistant Commissioner Ricky Kissoon.
The Wall Street Journal was also on hand with a reporter and
film crew to record the embryonic beginnings of what is expected
to become a favored program among high school athletes.
According to Commissioner Thompson, it is hoped that a similar
program be launched in the middle-school system. Much of the
program’s success will depend upon the City’s
Department of Education, general support of the public, commercial
enterprises and the technical expertise of the more established
cricket organizations in the New York area. It was heartening
to note that some of the most qualified umpires of the USACUA
have “bought-in” to the program and have been
officiating at the practice matches, so far. Among those officiating
during the two matches reported here, were umpires Baskh,
Patrick and Cricket Hall-of-Fame umpire Reid.
What the PSAL program needs now, more than anything else are
cricket grounds for weekend practice matches, and between
the competition matches which will be held mainly during the
The matting (playing surface) and other equipment at the Baisley
Pond Park for the two practice matches were loaned, courtesy
of Richmond Hill and East Bank cricket clubs, two members
of the Eastern American Cricket Association and part of the
New York Cricket Region.
The practice session matches are expected to continue this
Sunday, March 30 at the same venue.
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