West Indies Stars Visit Highlighted 2006
By Orin Davidson
Unprecedented levels of success put a positive glow on the results
charts for United States cricket in 2006, but the same level of
achievement in infrastructure development did not make the year
the best ever for the sport.
But the biggest story in United States cricket for the year was
the acquiring of the star-studded West Indies team to play a series
of two matches at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Park against a
United States All Star team
Triple world record holder Brian Lara, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shiv Chanderpaul,
Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, Corey Collymore, Ian Bradshaw, Dinesh
Ramdin, Darren Ganga, Dwayne Smith, Wavell Hinds and Rawle Lewis
displayed their skill for the first time as a team in New York to
Thanks to the zeal and negotiating skills of the Cricket International
organizing team in collaboration with United Promoters, the players
especially Lara, Gayle and Sarwan provided high class entertainment
on the July 8-9 weekend, despite many doubters who never thought
The series not only provided caliber exposure to the likes of Steve
Massiah, Rashard Marshall, Orlando Baker, Sushil Nadkarni, Imran
Iwan and Gowkarran Roopnarine, but also brought a new sense of awareness
to United States fans.
Massiah, did well as was Baker, but the Man of the Series was 23-year-old
batsman Marshall who blasted a boundary laden 90 in a lightening
fast 54 balls in the first game.
However, the Jamaica-born player is still to make his U.S. debut.
He suffered an injury shortly after the series and ultra conservative
selectors decided to omit him prematurely for the Americas Cup.
With hundreds of youngsters getting up close and personal to Lara
and company, many serious new players were transformed that weekend.
The United States senior team was a hit at the Americas Cup finishing
second to favorites Bermuda after wide-ranging reform in the composition
of the squad. It was the biggest competition of the year for the
seniors and their performance proved that had the powers that be,
used their wisdom one year earlier, the team would’ve been
preparing for the World Cup presently.
Were it not for a last game stumble when the U.S. lost to Canada,
they would’ve won the Americans Cup and embarrassed, Bermuda
and hosts Canada , two of the five Associate Member World Cup qualifiers.
The competition provided star batsman Massiah with another opportunity
to climb higher from all-comers as this country’s all time
most accomplished batsman.
He hit one century and two half centuries to return an aggregate
of 283 runs for an average of 70 to maintain his remarkable reputation
of scoring centuries in all his tours with United States teams.
Of the many newcomers, all of whom made the squad younger by several
years, Nadkarni, a former India-Under-19 player, made his presence
felt with a century and a half century.
The team also welcomed into its fold New York’s most popular
player, the prolific Lennox Cush who assumed United States residency
in time to make his debut in the summer.
On the junior front, the national Under-19 team created history
by winning this country’s first match in World Cup competition.
Being the first ever United States team to qualify at either level
of the world’s biggest limited overs competition, the juniors
led by Hemant Poonoo beat Namibia, at the Singhalese Club in Sri
Lanka to end with one win from five games, in a commendable debut
The players showed they were equally talented as their Under-19
rivals but lacked the experience of playing consistently well for
100 overs. Their losses were to power houses Australia, West Indies,
South Africa and New Zealand.
The U.S team’s qualification was achieved from winning last
year’s Under-19 Americas Cup.
The performances were made more remarkable despite the continuing
malaise of insufficient acceptable playing facilities in the country
Plans to upgrade Floyd Bennett field to One Day International standard
venue stalled badly, which leaves Woodley Park in Los Angeles and
Florida’s Brian Piccolo Park as the lone two facilities with
turf pitches and outfields worthy of first class recognition.
Problems also slowed the completion of the first ever stadium in
Broward County in Florida, but word is that the 35,000 seat facility
will be completed next year.
Because of the unavailability of such a facility, Americans were
denied the opportunity of enjoying the talents of the world’s
best players in the flesh.
The Tri-Series featuring world champions Australia, West Indies
and India was originally scheduled for America but was forced to
be shifted to Malaysia because none of the existing facilities here
met acceptable standards.
However, some consolation was had in Miramar, Florida where a better
than normal new facility is being built by the city.
Complete with lights and a small electronic scoreboard the facility
which will have turf pitches with two fields, is the most advanced
currently in the country. Much kudos are in store for the city officials
who have invested in a non mainstream American sport without much
prodding by the cricket fraternity.
This year a new Regional senior champion team was crowned when New
Jersey (Atlantic Region) played unbeaten in the national playoffs
in Florida staged at Miramar Park.
Showcasing an array of young talent molded by efficient administration
in New Jersey, the team put away Texas (Central West) Florida (South
East) and Southern California (South West).
Comprising the likes of Marshall and national players Chintan Patel,
Roopnarine and Iwan, New Jersey won their national title with the
ease of perennial champs after holders New York failed to make the
Texas led the also-rans while Southern California failed to win
a single game.
Northern California (North West) turned the form book upside down
to capture the Regional Under-19 crown in Florida.
They won both of their games in a truncated playoff series which
only lasted two days and comprised semi-finals, final and third
place playoff and was plagued by charges of organizing problems.
New York, which fielded one of its best squads ever on paper, had
a bad first day which torpedoed a successful defense of their title
and had to settle for third place.
New Jersey lost a nail-biter in the final to Northern California
to take the runner-up spot.
Elections-wise, the United States of America Cricket Association
(USACA) maneuvered its way into having the executive balloting postponed
to March 2007, despite reservations from the world body International
Cricket Council (ICC).
The installing of a new constitution was the reason, as USACA cited
the delay in its drafting and the lengthy time needed to have the
600-odd affiliated clubs’ approval.
USACA also notched a marketing deal with top Scottish firm Centrix
to promote matches and market the sport in America which is by far
their most notable achievement in 2006.
New York Development
Even before New York fans enjoyed the euphoria of seeing the West
Indies team perform in Brooklyn, they endured their biggest humiliation
in years when the senior squad was ditched in the Eastern Conference
As defending champions, New York was supposed to walk through the
preliminaries to the bigger stage at the national playoffs, but
a combination of inspired performances from New Jersey and Florida
and bad luck conspired to hand the team its first elimination ever
in the Eastern Conference series.
Without the means by officials to work out the complexities of the
Duckworth-Lewis system for rain shortened games, New York lost to
New Jersey in a thriller after the latter was a set a revised unfair
target, in the first game.
After disposing of Connecticut, New York collapsed to lose another
shocker to Florida in the must-win game to make the finals, leaving
the latter and New Jersey as the qualifiers.
Around the leagues, the new 20/20 game came into prominence but
not many surprises ensued in the traditional 50 overs a side competitions.
New York Challengers captured the Eastern American Big Four title
from a resurgent Everest which went on to take the 20/20 title.
Aroma topped the 60-team Commonwealth league in the Division A competition
to win for the fourth time while Villagers reigned supreme in the
In Brooklyn, Roraima and Cavaliers shared the spoils in the League
and Knockout competitions.
Under-19 teams had the first time experience of a competition of
their own, thanks to coach Linden Fraser who was the main influence
behind the staging of the inaugural Tri State series which also
involved teams from New Jersey.
Eastern American Youths led by Regional team captain Karran Ganesh,
won out from
Tri State Youths in the final.
Cricket International Youths and New Jersey Youths were the other
teams which finished the series.
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