Akeem Dodson seen batting during a college game in 2012. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Player Unhappy With USACA
Akeem Dodson is well-known in the New York metropolitan area and has represented the USA at the Youth and Senior Men levels internationally. He has also enjoyed a stint playing in the English County circuit. Dodson publicly expressed his displeasure recently, at the administration of cricket in the USA, going so far as to candidly say, he would not be comfortable wearing the national colors, if the situation did not change with regard to the structure and administration of the sport in the USA.

Newyorkcricket.com however, wanted to see what makes the young fashion-conscious wicket-keeper batsman tick and tock, so we posed the following questions to him.

Akeem Dodson is considered as one of the best wicketkeeper/batsman in USA. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Tell us about yourself
My name is Akeem Dodson; however, some know me better as “Spoogy”. I was born in New York and I currently play for Sheffield Cricket Club in the Metropolitan Cricket League of the NY Region; Washington Tigers Cricket Club, in the Washington Cricket League’s Premier Div. of the Atlantic Region, and most recently Lagan Cricket Club in the Northeast Region. I’m based in Brooklyn USA!! The new New York.

Tell us about your training routines
I have three sets of training routines, off-season, in-season, and pre-tournament. Off-season I stay basic, yoga three times a week to stay loose, a push up routine two days a week, and the good-ole ball and sock for two days of the week (10×50 strokes). I try to keep a balance so I get at least one day of the week to rest. During the off-season it’s hard to find the personnel or the motivation to “get a net in” or to jog because it’s usually too cold, but I try to stay active. In-season, I am playing cricket two days a week (Saturday and Sunday), most weeks. Factor in time for rest and travel; day before and day after, I need to have a more regimented routine. I have net sessions and fitness on Tues-Thurs, jogging and yoga Mon-Wed-Fri. The buzz is always up during the season, everyone is in the zone and trying to push each other, so I really try to do more group sessions. My pre-tournament routine is a three week intense regiment that I put myself through. Thankfully, I have had the services of Mr. Basil Butcher, who, while working as physio for USACA provided the team with a set of routines that has shown great results for me. Along with those routines I include additional jogging, sprints and yoga every day, ball and sock (10×100) every day, and net sessions three days each week. I try to work on every dynamic of my game, both mentally and physically, during my workouts/net sessions.

What is the craziest thing you have done while playing cricket?
That depends on your definition of crazy… and if what you mean by “crazy” is “awfully outrageous” then I would say I do crazy stuff all the time, you should come watch me play. However, the craziest thing for 2014 was at the Gateway Oval in Brooklyn for NYMDCA (Metropolitan League)’s 6-a-side tournament, where my three brothers and I went to the Final. Four against seven are usually tough odds but two men and two boys (11&13) vs. seven men!! Winning against those kinds of odds usually takes a bit of crazy. We were able to win 4 games and advance to the Final, where we lost unfortunately. I think it was the opening game that set the tone for us, when my brother Ahmad and I got 66 off our three overs. That had the crowd stunned!!

Who is the toughest player you know?
The toughest player I know is Neil ‘The Beast’ McGarrell – He got that name for a reason. Just when you think the beast is down, there he comes strapped up and ready to go; pushing it to the limit. I hope I have that kind of courage when I grow up.

What’s your favorite wicket celebrating routine?
If you’ve seen me play you know I have a lot of antics, my favorite is the ‘Air Punch’ Sukka!!! I would usually throw three or four in a row, usually directed right at the outgoing batsman. I want to make him feel my joy, just as his agony sets in.

Give us your view on the state of USA Cricket, and how to improve the game
USA cricket is at a very critical stage. The cricketing fraternity is not being properly represented and the efforts to effect change have started an uproar. This uproar, in my opinion, will benefit cricket in USA. Following my own recent social media post via #theamericancricketer, like other cricket investors and enthusiasts, I am calling for change in USACA’s Board.  If I am still dissatisfied with the outcome of the USACA AGM held last Saturday, I will no longer waste my time and talent with USACA. Away from the negativity and the ‘politricks.’ I feel USA cricket is on the verge of a major explosion. With so much room for growth, and the possibility to open so many different revenue sources centered on cricket, from the board room to landscaping, cricket USA can become bigger than any of us would dare to imagine. That is why I feel it is so important now more than ever that I voice my opinions toward change, because I believe with the right people in the right places, doing the right things, the success of Cricket USA is unstoppable.  In order to progress Cricket USA will need proper structures, in admin and cricket development, that promote a more elite cricket culture. One of the biggest problems with cricket in America is that everyone seems to be satisfied playing at an amateur level, that culture has to change, and that change needs to happen at every level of American cricket. Once there is a professional approach toward the sport, the facilities, the players, and the structure, American cricket will improve.

Tell us something we don’t know about you
I can read, write, and speak Urdu. (At Least at a 3rd grade level, laugh)

If cricket has taught you one thing, what is it?
Cricket imitates life. If you want to be a good cricketer, learn to live good first.

Can you cook?
Yes, I can cook.

What’s your biggest weakness?
Women.

Akeem is also a top fielder as he is seen here airborne taking a catch. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

Who is your favorite cricket commentator?
Danny Morrison.

Do you collect anything?
Trophies and hundreds.

What’s the best compliment you have ever received from a fellow cricketer?
Most cricketers that know me would say I’m fearless.

What is the best cricket souvenir you have?
My first ‘big boy’ bat, a Gray Nichols Rapier Titanium, autographed by who I feel are some of the greatest West Indian cricketers past and present; Desmond Haynes, Alvin Kallicharran, Brian Lara, Shiv Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle, Danish Ramdin, and a few others.

His autograph bat.

Where is the best place in USA to play cricket?
Idlewild Cricket Ground in Queens. After the recent renovations, it has really become a beautiful place to play cricket. Nothing beats that NY atmosphere on a big day. You can feel the pressure down your spine from the crowd on the hill! And there’s nothing like playing at home, where everyone knows you by name and they cheer it with pride.

Who’s your all-time hero outside of cricket?
All-time? The prophet Muhammad (on whom be peace). The greatest man to have ever lived. Following his teachings and ideals has taken me down a path that has broadened my intellect to a capacity that few fully comprehend.

What’s your favorite shot?
My favorite shot to play is a straight drive. Nothing knocks the wind out of a bowler’s sails like a ball whizzing back past him, then zooming into the boundary. Better if he has to dodge it.

Would you rather take a five-wicket haul or score a fifty?
I would rather get a five-for than a fifty. I’ve forgotten more fifties than I can remember, but I remember every five-wicket haul I’ve ever got. Like I said before, I collect 100s.

Which cricketer in the world would you pay to watch?
I’d pay to watch the champ Will Perkins any day. We’ve been playing together since we were about 15, so it’s always great seeing him on the big stage. And when the champ gets going, its absolute carnage. He’s always great to watch.

Describe you in three words
Humble; Relentless; Misunderstood.

Have you got any superstitions?
No superstitions. I believe in Allah. Jo bi hoga deykha jahyehga.

Are you handy at any other sports?
I’m handy at most sports. I’m a natural athlete and very well-coordinated. My brothers are basketball players, so for the time they spend on the field with me, I try to spend at least half that time on the court with them.

Thanks for the questions newyorkcricket.com, it’s always a pleasure.

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