By Lloyd Jodah
A year ago John Aaron, in an article wrote that Cameron Mirza, “has been grabbing every opportunity to be ready when the call to national service comes.”  With tremendous investment and commitment from his parents, Cameron Mirza has been coached in New Jersey by Ian Pont, in New York by Linden Fraser, England, India and South Africa.

Cameron Mirza struck an unbeaten 118 against Argentina. (Photo by Shiek Mohamed)

Featured in the Rohit Kulkarni independent documentary film Pitch of Dreams: Cricket in America, produced by City Lights, Cameron Mirza has always been a star in the making.

Today Cameron’s parents and all of his coaches can feel a great sense of satisfaction as Mirza became the first USA Under-19 player to score a century, as the USA squashed Argentina by 285 runs on a side field at Central Broward Regional Park and Cricket Stadium in Florida, in the ICC Americas Qualifier for the 2012 Under-19 World Cup.

New USA Under-19 Coach Robin Singh said he chose Cameron to open the batting with Steven Taylor (vice captain) as he felt Cameron had the temperament to slowly build an innings, and was his decision vindicated! Cameron smartly held his end down as the left-handed Steven Taylor attacked the Argentineans bowling. Taylor’s 50 came in 31 balls and he went on to smash 83 runs, including 8 fours and 4 mighty sixes. The Vice Captain’s entertaining knock of 83 had come out of a partnership of 116 runs with Mirza, but disappointingly on the first ball after the water break, he gave an easy catch to Agustin Hussain at mid-wicket off Lautaro Musiani.

At the 2010 World Cup in February Under-19 USA opener Henry Wardley had said of Taylor, “I like batting with Steven, his approach takes the pressure off of me” and Mirza must have felt the same way.

Following Taylor’s departure with the score at 116/1, Mirza went on the attack, hitting successive fours as two more quick wickets fell, those of captain Abhijit Joshi, 7 and Faahd Babar, for a duck. Trevor Singh stayed around for 28 runs and a partnership of 46 with Mirza, before he missed a pull and was bowled by off-spinner Ezequiel Gonzalez Sutil. Jodbhir Singh was caught for 2 and in walked the tall USA fast bowler Salman Ahmad.

Ahmad recently played in the American College Cricket West Coast Championship, where he was favorably noticed and was featured in the Los Angeles Daily News. But the new found celebrity fame had not gone to the young man’s head, he started slowly, and then struck 4 fours and 4 sixes in the span of 9 balls to reach his 50 in just 24 balls.

Cameron Mirza in the meantime moved towards his century, getting stuck a bit on 95, before getting a single behind point to make a century upon his USA debut, and become the first Under-19 USA player to score a century. Afterwards he told Dreamcricket.com “It was one of the best feelings I’ve had playing cricket.” Mirza’s century came in 125 balls with 10 fours, finally, his 118 not out was struck off of 137 deliveries, with 12 boundaries.

Steven Taylor was among the runs hitting 83. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Mirza and Ahmad’s unbeaten sixth-wicket partnership put on 100 runs, as Cameron finished on 118 not out, and Salman Ahmad on 62 not out.

The USA fast bowlers then made short work of the Argentineans with none of the batsmen reaching double figures as the team’s innings ended at 34 for 9 wickets in 17.4 overs. Argentina’s wicketkeeper was injured earlier in the match and did not bat. Salman Ahmad turned in an MVP type performance by taking 4 wickets for 10 runs in 6 overs in addition to his 62*. However awarding the Man-of-the-Match to Cameron Mirza seemed like the only natural thing to do.

USA Coach Robin Singh the other 2010 World Cup veteran Hammad Shahid took 2 wickets for 6 runs whilst Rutgers fast bowler Mital Patel, making his USA debut took 2 wickets for 9 runs in 3 overs, and was on a hat-trick at one stage.

Afterwards USA coach Robin Singh was Belichick-like in speaking about the areas to be improved, rather than getting carried away with the win against a weak opponent. Clearly a coach who seems likely to keep his team focused.

Lloyd Jodah is President of American College Cricket

 

13 Comments

  1. Cricket Fan says:

    Some of the young cricketers in NY were given a lot of match practice in 2010. As a young cricketer you need as much match practice as possible, and I hope the NYCR can do MUCH BETTER this year in that dept. Maybe, a youth tournament?

    Former NYCR U19 players and talented WI players were involved in assisting with the preparation of the U19 youths. We know that most of the players are involved in Saturday Leagues as well, and nothing is wrong with that (always encourage youngsters to play cricket regardless)

    Many suggested a “Youth Structure” What does this mean? Gents, please share all the ideas that can improve the region. This is not about us, but about the talented youths we have in the NYCR. What is needed to propel them to the next level?

  2. Thepeople says:

    @coach

    no worries..i thought you said “2010 national tounament” for us to know the name of the tournament zahib and wilson scored their tons. congrads to all the young new york centurions. hope to see more this year.

  3. Coach says:

    Thepeople:

    My correction, but I stated 2010.

    Thank You.

  4. Thepeople says:

    @coach. 3rd Ny junior player to register a ton in a national tournament???? Akeem Dodson registered a ton in a national under 19 tournament (2005 in Florida -118-) Andy Mohammed register 2 national tournaments tons (Chicago -128* and Washington 113). Come on.

  5. Coach says:

    Mr. Sooppersaud: Why don’t you send in your resume to the NYCR?

  6. Yes, I totally agree with the comments that we need to have a structure to propel and guide our youths. It is my hope that the NYCR will appoint an able Youth Coordinator. Not a friend or acquaintance. But some one who has experience with working with youths, someone with cricket knowledge, someone with communication skills, someone who knows whats being a Youth Coordinator is all about.

    With NYC’s PSAL and PAl programs being such successful cricket programs, I am sure that we can identify an individual who can do welkl for and with our youths. I will suggest that those who feel that they have “what it takes” to be a Youth Coordinator should talk to the NYCR administration and if possible send in a resume.

    The youths are our ticket to better things! Let us invest in them now.

  7. Youth Cricketer says:

    @ Lester:

    Were there any “Youth” Structure in NYCR before? Do we currently have a Youth Coordinator? I would like to see youth competitions on Saturdays in 2011 meaning U15, U17, U19, and U25 teams competing against each other. Maybe, structure is the wrong word to define NY Youth Cricket. Do we have youth programs? Yes, PSAL and NYPD, but the NYCR Region need to expand more in terms of on-field matches for our youths.

    I commended Tristate for trying to create a “structure”, (there were schedule of matches, but the structure was questionable). It was a good start, but there were many obstacles trying to secure grounds and umpires. The intentions were good, but there were loop holes as expected for all new endeavors. There were many questions: Was the tournament a NYCR sanctioned tournament? Were there insurances for players? Were there favouritism amongst players? Were players recruited to be part of a Sunday youth team? A youth team was entered in the Metro. League, and the EACA league, but neither did not flourished.

    Many are not concerned about the long term goals of youth cricket. Many are caught up with the various monetary T/20 tournaments and their personal gain. Why? Green, Bread, and big ego is the way to go?

    Why can’t the Region conduct a Youth Tournament on Saturdays only?

    So called owners of grounds can care less about youths playing cricket on Saturdays. They only called upon the youths when they need to impress people in higher offices. SHAME

    The newly improved ground (Baisley) at 150th. and Rockaway Blvd. is supposed to be designated for youths only(Saturdays). Let’s see what will happen this year?

  8. LESTER H says:

    @COACH…..NY players will always excel given the fact that we have and will continue to have talented players. However, make no doubt about it, THERE IS NO STRUCTURE WHEN IT COMES TO YOUTH CRICKET IN NY. Maybe our definition differ in this regard.

  9. Coach says:

    SAM: The “nay-sayers” will always continue to question the selection process in NY, but to accused Cameron’s family of fronting money to be on the team is completely Rubbish. It’s good to see that the young man is performing with his willow, rather than paying attention to some of the negative remarks made about him and his family.

    Many questioned the “structure” of youth cricket in New York, but yet NY junior players are exceling. Key factor: Players were given opportunites to play as much matches during 2010, and we hope this trend continues in New York. We need to involve our talented U25 players as well.

    Cameron’s is the third NY Junior to register a century during a National Tournament. Zahib Tariq and Randall Wilson (both PSAL cricketers) scored centuries during the 2010 USACA U15 Nationals.

  10. I am overjoyed that Cameron Mirza has demonstrated to the nay-sayers that he does deserve his selection. If you remember when the Under 19 Squad for this tournament was selected there were numerous people asking “why is Mirza on the side?”

    Many were questioning his dedication, his committment to clubs or regions. One gentleman from the Atlantic Region -I will not use any name, I am not in to embarrassing anyone- who openly criticized Cameron. Not only Cameron as a player, but this gentleman got personal with the Mirza family. He said that they go from region to region and that they use their money to get Cameron selected.

    At one stage Cameron’s mom had to answer to the gentleman. He had claimed that Cameron rather than remain in the USA and play his cricket went to England to play. Cameron’s mom had to point out to him that Cameron had the opportunity to play in England, at a higher standard than we have in our leagues. Who would not jump at that opportunity? So Cameron went and played in England. He has become a more refined batsman.

    Let us stand behind our youngsters.

  11. Coach says:

    Mirza is averaging 147 runs thus far in this tournament, and as of today many still questioned his selection both on the New York Cricket Region U19, and the USA U19. Instead of of positive motivation, many continues to demoralize the talented youths that are committed to play the sport of cricket. These individuals are only out to take credit for every “little thing” one can think of. Yes, GROWN MEN !!

  12. Coach2 says:

    WELL DONE Cameron.You waited and it paid off. Keep moving forward. Good luck.

  13. beastly07 says:

    if India can do well under robin’s coaching (in fielding, but still he coached some champions!!!) imagine the heights USA U-19 can reach under robin’s leadership…. he is a good motivational coach and the perfect leader for this U-19 team b/c joshi is still young and robin can guide and mould him into a good captain…..

    As for mirza,,,,, he is as good as an U-19 batsmen till date…. gr8 temperment and patience…. but the team should not get carried away by just one performance against a relatively weak opponents…..

    CHeers USA U-19….. show the senior guys how to play serious cricket rather than fighting over money… GO U-19~!!!!!!