The Best Player Never To Represent America
By Orin Davidson
Good cricketers are known for any manner of accomplishment or feat
Some are remembered for brilliant batting, bowling or fielding displays,
but Orlando Baker is known for being the best cricketer never to
represent the United States.
And he has many memorable feats to prove his case.
His most memorable is scoring back to back double centuries on successive
days in limited overs competition.
To date he is the lone player in United States history to notch
To score a century in any form of cricket is a great honor, but
to pile up double centuries in one-day competition is unheard of.
And to record two, two days in a row is earth shattering.
Competition might be substandard in the U.S. compared to the sport’s
established nations, but for anyone to match Baker’s feat,
he must be bigger than a mega star.
The epic accomplishment made Baker one of the most respected young
players in New York and the entire United States.
He earned a string of plaudits as a result, but the one he likes
best is being renamed the Master Blaster.
Not that he is a savage hitter of the ball, but Baker is an attacking
player without possessing the ball beating aura of the original
Master Blaster Sir Vivian Richards.
He has most of the shots in the book and the mental awareness to
go with it, which makes him capable of scoring big anytime he wants.
In every season since migrating to the United States in 2001, the
batting/all-rounder topped more than 400 runs in every full competition
he played in.
Only once has he failed to record a century in any one series, which
occurred in 2005.
It was probably a letdown after he amassed the two double centuries
the preceding year in 2004.
In that season, he rattled off more than 1000 runs for Villagers
in the Metropolitan League, which is outside of his exploits for
Calypso Club in the Washington League, a few hundred miles away
On Saturday July 3, he cracked 204 not out against Metro 2 in a
40 overs a side clash there. After hitting road for the trip back
to the Big Apple, Baker returned the next day Sunday to hammer 217
also not out for Villagers against Lucas in the Metropolitan League,
in a 35 overs a side contest.
“That is a record I always talk about and is very proud of,
because no one else ever came close to doing it,” Baker boasts.
With his accomplishments, the attractive right-hand batsman should
be an automatic selection for any United States national team. But
his status did not allow him to travel and he had to be content
representing his new club Cosmos in the Metropolitan League and
New York in the national Regional Championships.
Now that he has regularized his paperwork and acquired residential
status, Baker is now free to transfer his success to the international
But the talented all-rounder will not lose any sleep worrying when
he will be selected.
“If they pick me, I will accept, but I will not put myself
under any pressure to make them pick me,” Baker declares.
His seeming indifference stems from harsh experiences suffered in
his native Jamaica.
The gifted top order batsman and medium pace bowler was a promising
young prospect who rated in the same bracket as West Indies players
Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Wavell Hinds, Carlton Baugh and leading
national selectees like Leon Garrick, Tamar Lambert and Brenton
He was teammates with Gayle and Samuels in the Jamaica Under-19
team for two years in the West Indies Northern Telecom competition
in 1996 & 97.
In those two competitions he played against the likes of current
West Indies vice captain Ramnaresh Sarwan and his current teammates
Corey Collymore and Runako Morton.
His returns were credible with the bat and ball and were among the
team’s best in the1997 competition staged in Guyana . Baker
says he fondly remembers 86 he hit off the Barbados attack led by
upstart paceman Ryan Best at the LBI ground.
“Best had already put away Chris (Gayle) and Marlon (Samuels)
and thought he coulda get me too, but I put him out of the attack
instead,” Baker fondly relates.
His resume also includes one game for the Jamaica senior team in
the Busta Cup.
But although he topped all scorers in the 2001 and 2002 Jamaica
trials, Baker said he was never selected again after that solitary
He feels he was victimized by the team’s manager because of
differences that developed with the official from the player’s
Baker’s frustration forced him to abandon his budding career
in Jamaica for life in New York.
He caught up with his ex-Jamaica mates this summer when the West
Indies team led by Brian Lara opposed the United States All Stars
in Brooklyn in July.
Baker was zeroed in the first of two games and was the butt of their
jokes the rest of the day. But he rebounded with a responsible innings
of 40-odd in the second game and before West Indies left, he said
Hinds, the current Jamaica captain was wooing him to return to play
for his native land, such is the level of respect he commands in
Born and bred in Clarendon Parish, Baker said he took up cricket
seriously after being given a bat by former West Indies batsman
Desmond Haynes on one of several trips to Sabina Park with his uncle
as a boy.
Later on Baker said he was even more proficient in soccer. “Many
people would be surprised I took up cricket instead,” states
But his constant exposure to cricket through his uncle, transformed
him into a cricket fanatic.
At 14-years, he talked his way into the Clarendon first division
Senior Cup team and made a sensational debut, scoring at impressive
60 against national bowlers.
He went on to represent Police club with distinction until his run-in
Sometime later, Baker said he heard former Australia captain Bobby
Simpson who conducted coaching stints in Jamaica at the time, was
appalled at his omission form the national team.
Now that he is well ensconced in America, the national selectors
here have a splendid chance to cash in where Jamaica blundered.
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