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Saffie Adds Star Power To Richmond Hill

By Orin Davidson

Nov. 26th, 2008
Zaheer Saffie came with a loaded reputation and delivered the goods whenever and wherever he played in New York City this past cricket season.

At the end of it all he walked away with the Eastern American Cricket Association’s (EACA) Most Valuable award after a number of eye-opening displays in the EACA League, the Ahmad Caribbean Cup and the Inter League series.

Zaheer Saffie (left) is congratulated by USACA secretary John Aaron.

Zaheer Saffie (right) collects the Eastern American Cricket Association MVP award from Jerry Persaud.

In the West Indies, Saffie had played his way into the top echelons of Guyana’s junior competition, including a three-time Under-19 team stint that laid a solid foundation for a high profile senior career.

But he is giving his senior years to New York and eventually America cricket which is why at 22 years old, he is a rarity among the West Indian players who pop up here every season.

You will not find him appearing in the Summer and disappearing afterwards when the curtain draws on the season and the perks dry up.

Saffie is here to stay permanently and to give his young years to New York which already has every reason to be grateful for his presence.

He is an attacking top order batsman who became the fans’ most sought after player from May to September this year. The runs flowed from his bat almost every time he took the crease and at the end of the day, Richmond Hill was propelled to second place in the tough EACA championship and Guyana took home the Caribbean Cup for the umpteenth time.

And he can bowl too. After 17 wickets and 220 runs, Saffie became the undisputed EACA MVP, as no player, even those from the 2008 champions East Bank, came near to challenging him.

Two high class half centuries for Guyana in the Caribbean Cup were among Saffie’s highlights in the Big Apple’s most prestigious competition, in the process coming close to recording the competition’s lone century, falling short by three runs against Barbados.

His big regret this season was ending up with his teammates on the losing end to East Bank in that heart- stopping final of the EACA Big Four series. Saffie made 25 in that game, a low scoring affair and would’ve liked to cap his first full season here in a blaze of glory. More so, especially after he chalked up a rare century in half of a season in 2007 for Richmond Hill.

But he subsequently made up for that disappointment this year, at the top of the top order for Guyana which steamrolled its way to its third straight Caribbean Cup title, without losing a game. It landed him the team’s Best Batsman prize ahead of a slew of batting stars on the rooster.

Were he eligible, Saffie could’ve been a certainty in the United States team that played in the just concluded West Indies Cricket Board Cup and the current Americas Cup competition.

He expects to confirm his eligibility within two years as Saffie sees a role for himself in the national team, while settling- in, in the Mecca of New York cricket in Queens.

Zaheer Saffie (second at far right) with Richmond Hill teammates. Photos by Shiek Mohamed

With the huge amounts of money up for grabs in West Indies cricket these days, Saffie is happy to make a home for himself in Queens instead. He has forgone the urge to join the mad scramble for places in the Guyana team, the Stanford All Stars and West Indies teams.

One of his ex Guyana under-19 teammates Leon Johnson is close to cashing in on the millions, having already made the West Indies squad which just concluded a limited overs series against Pakistan.

Saffie was once offered a contract to play in the English leagues, from which Johnson graduated into the Guyana and WI sides, but he passed up the opportunity because he had no family there.
But they are all in Queens which means he is here to setup roots.
Orin Davidson Column Homepage

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