Fun, Frolic, Clinics And Cricket
By John L. Aaron | Photo Gallery
It was a labor of love this past Labor Day weekend in New York, as the Caribbean Diaspora jumped to carnival music in colorful costumes and masks, in the Annual Caribbean Day Parade at one end of Brooklyn. Meanwhile, at the other end Atlantis Cricket Club of New York women’s team, played host to an Atlanta Pearls XI at Erskine Cricket Ground. Promoted as a developmental initiative for both groups of female cricketers, the three-day event included lots of fun and frolicking, but most importantly impromptu cricket clinics, and two T20 cricket matches.

The victorious Atlantis Cricket Club of New York women’s team.

The Atlanta Pearls XI included several players who participated in the 2013 Georgia Women Cricket Association’s (GWCA) 3rd Annual Atlanta Women’s T20 Tournament in Atlanta, Georgia, with a few new faces, not totally unfamiliar to cricket. The southern team invited the outstanding women’s player from Guyana, Onika Wallerson, Roselyn Emmanuel, a former St. Lucia, West Indies and US wicket keeper batswoman, along with Australian-born Catherine Crowe, and South African-born Amanda Prime, both from the Atlantic Region’s Lady Eagles, while the Atlantis XI included a few new faces such as Lisa Persaud, wicket keeper, Mona Persaud, former Canadian women’s cricket captain, Triholder Marshall, USA national all-rounder, and Surojwattie “Val” Doodnauth, a newcomer to playing cricket.

Sponsored by Metallica Commodities Corporation, the weekend activities began with a lavish poolside cocktail reception for the visitors and Atlantis club members, in Ossining, NY, a suburb of New York City.

Saturday saw the first of two T20 matches played at the Erskine Cricket Ground with Atlantis emerging victorious by 7 wickets, as the Pearls batting first, never got going. Atlantis’ captain Sara Farooq had match figures of 4-0-23-5, which was enough to win her the Best Bowler award for the weekend. A lot seemed to be riding on the shoulders of Onika Wallerson, who was caught by Samantha Ramataur at deep mid-wicket off the bowling of pacer Neha Sukhija, having scored only a single run. Petal Samuels top scored with 8, Catherine Crowe and Roselyn Emmanuel each scored 5 runs, and Shariel Felicien was not out on 4. In addition to Atlantis skipper’s fiver, Ramataur had match figures of 4-2-8-2, while Sukhija and Joy Jones grabbed one wicket apiece for 6 and 5 runs respectively.

In response, Atlantis raced to 51 for 3 in 12 overs and the victory, behind the bats of Neha Sukhija, 15, and Joy Jones, 9, both batswomen were not out, with extras top scoring with 21. Mona Persaud, Sihle Wilson and Samantha Ramataur each scored two runs. Onika Wallerson had match figures of 4-0-13-2 in the losing cause.

Overnight rain prevented the staging of two T20s, and an awards ceremony, so the two teams played one T20 match on Sunday. Atlantis, winning the toss and electing to take first strike scored 122 for 6 in the 20 overs. Top scorers were Joy Jones, 31, Neha Sukhija, 20, Triholder Marshall, 13, and Beulah Pidakala, 10, not out. Ramataur, 6, Sara Farooq and Joan Alexander-Serrano each contributed 3 runs. Extras poured in 36. Bowling for Atlanta Pearls: Roselyn Emmanuel: 4-0-28-3; Petal Samuels: 1-0-7-1; Onika Wallerson: 4-0-18-1 and Amanda Prime: 4-0-21-1.

Atlanta Pearls team.

Replying to Atlantis’ asking rate of 6.10 runs per over, the Atlanta Pearls once again faced a formidable bowling line-up and was unable to mount a challenging response; folding for 35 in 12.5 overs. Only Onika Wallerson seemed to bother the Atlantis bowlers, as she top-scored with 23, before being brilliantly run out by Joan Alexander-Serrano, with a direct hit from the backward square-leg boundary, off the bowling of Triholder Marshall. Ironically, Ms. Wallerson had already begun to run out of partners at the other end. Bowling for Atlantis: Samantha Ramataur: 2.5-0-2-3; Joan Alexander-Serrano: 2-0-4-2; Triholder Marshall: 3-0-7-2.

However, it was not so much about who won or lost the matches; it was yet another opportunity to showcase women’s cricket in the USA at the local level, and to convince a few more non-believers and supporters, while helping to develop the talent of the brave and eager young women wanting to play the sport. One also hopes that the weekend event may have encouraged a few more sponsors of women’s cricket.

Following the match several of Atlantis’ more experienced players led by skipper Sara Farooq conducted impromptu batting and bowling clinics for the less experienced Atlanta Pearls players. It was the true essence of women helping women develop women’s cricket, a concept lacking support and execution at the national level of US cricket, and so badly needed at the grass roots level. It was refreshing to see players helping players and truly understanding that women’s cricket will not grow solely by having one national tournament every two years.

Atlantis, the GWCA, along with Petal Samuels, the driving force behind women’s cricket in the South Eastern United States, the New York Cricket Region Women’s Cricket Coordinator Venelda Wallace, soon to be inducted into the Hartford, Connecticut Cricket Hall of Fame, several other individuals, and businesses like Sybil’s Bakery and Restaurant, Bedessee Sporting Goods, the United States of America Cricket Umpires Association, and Atlantis’ major sponsor Metallica Commodities Corporation, must be complimented for their generous support of the development of women’s cricket at this level. In addition the scores of supporters, who ringed the Erskine Cricket Ground over the two days, are indicative of the grass roots support for the sport. The altruistic nature of such companies and individuals was welcomed by Atlantis Cricket Club and its Executive Board in the execution of last weekend’s developmental initiative.

One could literally see women’s cricket developing in front of one’s own eyes, from the French-born cricket newcomer and pro-tennis player turned obstetrician Judith Norton, jumping from side-to-side on her toes, as if readying to serve or defend in a tennis match, bat held up, before grounding same to face the bowler; to the youngest player on the Pearls’ XI Shariel Felicien, running up and struggling to deliver the ball at a tidy length and line, but not discouraged in the least bit. Shariel is also training to become a wicket keeper. On the Atlantis side, one could appreciate Val Doodnauth chasing a ground ball and desperately trying to stop it with her feet, while her skipper Sara Farooq raced alongside her encouraging her and demonstrating one of the better techniques for cutting off a ball that’s headed for the boundary.

Catherine Crowe, Roselyn Emmanuel and Amanda Prime, a Level 2 coach, offered tips on batting and bowling to their teammates throughout the weekend, tips that were eagerly appreciated. On some occasions batswomen headed back to the pavilion were observed seeking out male cricketers who may have offered advice while the player was on her way out to the middle, with the burning question, “What did I do wrong?”

With a live DJ pushing sweet Soca and Reggae music across the green perimeter of the cricket ground and over the Belt Parkway, batswomen pushed for singles and two’s on a lush green field with the grass a tad too high for scorching boundaries along the ground. In addition to the pulsating sounds of DJ Julian Linton, the aroma of an all-day smorgasbord of Caribbean and American dishes permeated the air, and manned by Atlantis’ Liaison Officer Leslie “007 Tulu” Lewis, in the “kitchen”.

Following the second T20 match of the weekend, the two teams romped in a 10-overs scrubby match that saw the teams playing with mixed XIs, led by Sara Farooq and Cachetne Barrett.  In addition to each of the two XIs fielding players from the opposing squads, a few male counterparts, including Dr. Glendon Archer of Metallica Commodities Corporation, joined the fray batting and fielding alongside the ladies. Dr. Archer appeared as fit as a fiddle, and probably ready to rejoin the Atlantis men’s squad next season. Can one say no to a sponsor, and especially one in such excellent condition?

2013 Metallica Cup Recognition Awards
2013 Metallica Cup Championship Trophy: Atlantis Cricket Club – NY
Most Valuable Player: Neha Sukhija
Best Batswoman: Neha Sukhija
Best Bowler: Sara Farooq
Best Fielder: Samantha Ramataur
The Metallica Spirit of the Game Award: Cachetne Barrett
A 2013 Metallica Cup Commemorative Medal was awarded to each participating player.

With two decisive T20 wins over the Atlanta Pearls, the inaugural Metallica Cup was secured by the host Atlantis Cricket Club – NY.  It is not yet known if the event will become an annual one, as the two organizations put their heads together in the coming months to determine how such an initiative may be extended to help women’s cricket grow in the USA.

It was an enjoyable weekend, full of food, fun, frolic and cricket.