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Ed Ahmad Cup
Premier Competition Struggles Against Elements

By John Aaron

After generating some extraordinary success and fan interest, the much touted Ed Ahmad New York Caribbean Cricket Cup is experiencing “technical difficulties,” in reaching the level of success it enjoyed only a year ago.

The tournament started out with six nations competing - Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Leeward Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and Windward Islands; the all-Caribbean affair was well supported by players and fans alike, before it soon expanded to include India and Pakistan; Asian cricketing nations with a lot in common with the Caribbean people and the culture of cricket in the New York metropolitan area.

National Pride
Decked out in their respective national colors, the players scratched, clawed and fought with national pride on the field, while celebrating each other at the conclusion of the well-attended matches. India was the first team to drop out after competing for for only two years. The reason is still uncertain, but speculation has it that the Patel family sponsored XI was disheartened by the team’s limited success against much stronger teams, while others attest to the team having difficulty traveling from the New Jersey area to participate in the games. One may wonder why the organizers did not compromise, by taking some games to New Jersey and the Indian fan base there.

India Drops Out
With India dropping out of the premier competition, the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) seized the opportunity to use the tournament as a “trials environment” for its up and coming “farm” squad of younger players. Thus a US Development Team was introduced to the competition and its new double format of 50-overs and Twenty/20 competitions. However, that scenario was short-lived, as it soon became apparent that the team was not receiving the much needed management support off the field of play, coupled with the logistics of traveling from the west coast and other distant areas and rains experienced in the past few weeks, preventing several players from making flights to the New York area. Was the Development team’s participation in the tournament properly planned?

Leewards Booted
Last week, the Ed Ahmad Cup committee announced that the Leewards will not be participating any further in this year’s competition, “due to their inability to coordinate off-field activities and field a team for scheduled matches,” according to a release from Cup officials. The Leeward Islands team has had tremendous difficulty getting to the assigned grounds on time and very often with insufficient players.

NY Development Team Enters Fray
With the absence of the US Development XI, the Ed Ahmad Cup committee invited the cricket talent rich New York Region to field a NY Development Team to participate in the remaining 2006 schedule. The participating teams are now listed as Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Pakistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Windward Islands and the New York Development team.

Not Ready For Prime Time
Bronx cricket officials have been clamoring for matches in the highly respected competition to be played in that borough, specifically Van Cortlandt Park. However, two recent crucial matches had to be abandoned due to rain and the inadequate protection of the playing surfaces at that park. An apparent result of poor or inadequate planning on the part of the venue hosts.

Matches featuring Jamaica and Guyana are crowd pleasers and it is felt by some cricket aficionados that such games should be played where the fans reside, namely Queens or Brooklyn. I disagree with such a conclusion, because cricket fans reside all over the five boroughs.

However, I cannot overlook the fact that Queens facilities such as Idlewild Park are much better maintained and equipped to deal with adverse weather conditions, not to mention the fan interest generated at this venue.

Growing Pains
Thus, the tournament is experiencing difficulties at several levels.

However, the organizing committee is headed by a group of individuals who have several years of cricket experience between them and I have no doubt that they will get this caboose back on track and I look forward to future tournaments. It is said that you must creep, before you walk.

The Ed Ahmad Cup is making every effort to stand on its own two legs, before making the necessary strides cricket needs in the United States.

New York is ideally positioned to lead such a charge. We have the players, the administrators and the funding base to set examples for the rest of the nation to follow.

NY Development XI Struggles
The hastily organized NY Development Team is struggling to find its own footing, having been thrust against the likes of Windward Islands and Guyana in the past two weeks. The experience, hopefully, will produce stronger players.

Following a Twenty/20 whipping from Windward Islands two weekends ago, the New York Development team met US skipper Steve Massiah and the Guyana team last weekend at Lido Beach. There they were treated to some excellent pourri, dhol, lamb curry and a whipping from the senior squad of Guyanese players.

Batting first, the NY Development Team reached 144 all out in 39.4 overs. Skipper Karran Ganesh with 27, led the way followed by former Trinidad & Tobago under-19 batsman Manoj Sirju’s 23 off 20 deliveries and Jerein Thomas’ 22. A highlight of the NY Development Team’s innings was Manoj Sirju showing no respect to former Guyana pace bowler Kevin Darlington, belting the feared bowler for three fours and a deuce a single over.

The NY Development Team’s wickets fell at 5, 5, 57, 66, 84, 90, 117, 127, 144 and 144. Guyana’s Z. Amin grabbed 3 for 19, with B. George and K. Bux each snatching two wickets for 18 and 20 respectively.

In response, Guyana opened with Andrew Gonsalves and skipper Steve Massiah. Gonsalves was quickly gone via the run out route to the bowling of F. Umer, scoring only one run. It created some elation in the NY Development Team’s camp. However, Guyana’s skipper Massiah unleashed his blade upon the youths racing to an unbeaten 75 off 45 deliveries. In a supporting role, but no less important, was Tamesh “Cambio” Balwant with 53 off 48 deliveries, as the Guyana XI enjoyed an easy day at the office, reaching the required 145 in 21.5 overs and the loss of only one wicket.

Ironically, the two teams meet again today in the Twenty/20 version of the competition at Idlewild Park in Rosedale, Queens at 11:00am. Trinidad & Tobago plays Pakistan at the same venue at 4:00pm and the Windward Islands hosts Jamaica at 108th Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn at 11:00am.

The Twenty/20 finals is scheduled for Saturday, September 9 at 1:00pm at Idlewild Park in Rosedale, Queens, while the 50-overs finals is set for one week earlier; Saturday, September 2 at the same venue.

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