Philadelphia Cricket League current executives counterclockwise: Shuja Khan -founder and CEO, Zaheer Mumtaz -Director Public affairs, Jatan Upadhyay -President, Santosh Kumar - Director of League by-laws review and implementation, Maharishi Patel - Director Umpiring, Sibi Thomas - Director Administrative Affairs and Harish Kaduri - Director fields and schedule.

Holds Leagues Partly Responsible For US Cricket Mess
In this ongoing series of meeting cricketers and administrators of the sport in the USA through interviews, newyorkcricket.com chatted with Shuja Khan, founder of the Philadelphia Cricket League (PCL), about his involvement with the PCL and US cricket.

When was the Philadelphia Cricket League (PCL) established?
The Philadelphia Cricket League was established in 2006.

How long have you been associated with the PCL?
I am a founding member of the league and served as its president for seven years. Jatan Upadhyay is the current president of the league.

How many clubs are there in the PCL?
We currently have twelve clubs as part of the PCL.

Shuja Khan with USACA president Gladstone Dainty.

What’s the average age of the players within the PCL?
An unscientific guess of the average age of the players in the PCL would be around 30 years.

Does the PCL have a youth and/or a women’s cricket program?
We have a youth program that we manage through some of our designated clubs, since all the youths cannot be assembled at the same location, due to the large geographical distances within the league. We were always interested in a Women’s program, but unfortunately have not found a decent number of females to start a training program, or a team.

We noted that the PCL is dedicating its 2015 season to the late Australian cricketer Phil Hughes. Is there a deeper message behind the mostly symbolic, but commendable gesture?
Everyone in our cricket community was moved and sad, due to the sudden and tragic death of such a talented player; and at such a young age. It was difficult for me to compose during those days and I came up with the idea for the symbolic gesture and my executive committee agreed in no time. The deeper message is the current situation of the world, with so many crises going on in the world, this serves as a symbol to notice that people who have never met Phil and live continents away from Australia, are still mourning his loss, because they cared and loved him. So those who are living together in one neighborhood, one city, one state, one country, and one world, should unite and help and love each other to make this world a safer place for all.

Philadelphia Cricket League will retire it's championship trophy in honor of the last Phil Hughes of Australia.

The PCL’s 2015 season is being billed as “Bigger and Bolder.” Can you elaborate on how the 2015 season would differ from last year’s?
We started giving away cash prizes in 2012 with $10,000 and later in 2013 and 2014; we reduced the cash prize to $5,000 to accommodate other larger expenses such as the live steaming of our Final game. We have now been streaming our Finals live for two years. During the 2014 streaming we reached over 1,000 active users at one time, who were watching us from different corners of the world. I would also like to thank www.youcricketer.com for the live streaming services provided for our game; they offer the streaming service to the general sporting community as well, so if other leagues are interested, please contact them directly.

Why 2015 is bigger and bolder? We have introduced a unique version of T20, which starts internally with PCL member clubs and local non-member clubs competing for two months, then the top two clubs qualify to play a mini tournament held on July 4th weekend, where 6-8 external teams from around the USA will be invited to play for $5,000 prize money (Winner $4,000, Runner up $1,000). We have a few teams from NY, NJ and Washington, DC who have already shown an interest in participating.

I am thankful to MAQ of Cricket Council USA (CCUSA) for providing sponsorship of the prize money. The registration fee of $850 from external clubs will be used to meet other expenses, such as uniforms, liability insurance coverage, umpire fees, ground fees, and food/drinks at the final, rides for the kids, a sound system, seating, and live steaming of the event.

We also wish to add here, that this style of T20 will be offered to other leagues as well, where CCUSA will sponsor $5,000 as prize money, so if any other leagues are interested, please contact me (Shuja Khan). PCL just happens to be the first league in the USA to get in on a unique T20 contract with MAQ/CCUSA.

Will the MAQ Querishi/Cricket Council USA/PCL T20 tournament be an annual event in the Philadelphia area?
Yes, this will be an annual event. And, as I said earlier, we are very thankful to MAQ of Cricket Council USA for sponsoring the prize money for this unique T20 tournament. It will be a great event as CCUSA also plans to offer $5000 sponsorship to other leagues as well if they follow the same format. Interested leagues please contact me at shuja.khan@philadelphiacricketleague.com

Shuja Khan (leff) who is the Vice President at Cricket Council USA (CCUSA) is seen here with Maq Qureshi (CEO/Founder CCUSA), CPLT20 CEO, Damien Donohue and Amin Markitia of CCUSA. Photo courtesy of www.ccusa.info

 Is the PCL a member league of USACA, and if so, what are your views on the beleaguered organization?
Although we were established in 2006 and have always had more than eight teams, I personally was never interested in joining USACA due to its ineffective governing policies. It is only in 2014 we joined USACA after a one-to-one talk with Mr. Dainty, as USACA was determined to bring effective changes in US cricket. That will begin by giving the right to vote for changes to the USACA Constitution to all established leagues who meet certain criteria. Hence, we were given the right to vote on November 15 2014 on Constitution amendments at the USACA Annual General Meeting Meeting held in New York.

PCL holds USACA partially responsible for the current mess of cricket in US and holds the cricket leagues of America even more responsible. There are leagues that have been around for over 30 and 40 and 50 years, but they have not tried to get out of their norms to make cricket more competitive.

USACA can become a good organization if the upcoming elections are held in all fairness and all those leagues who were allowed to vote on November 15, 2014 are not dismissed for some xyz nonsense compliance.  Additionally, everyone talks about youth cricket and women’s cricket, but let me tell you, the first thing we need is money, and to concentrate on developing our men’s team first, then focus on youth and women cricket as we move forward and raise additional funds. You cannot win the battle on all fronts when you don’t even have the resources to win on one front.  Additionally, people lack creative ideas to raise money, I have a few interesting ways, if implemented can raise a good amount of money for USACA every year, but will only share that information once I see the executive team at USACA, in place after the election.

Beyond the sport of cricket, what’s the Mission of the PCL?
PCL in just a short span of time has introduced cash prizes, live streaming and is now going with a unique type of T20 tournament.  As a result of offering cash prizes, we are generating a lot of interest and the turnout of spectators at the Finals is great. In addition, we do offer a lot for kids at the Final and free food for all, as well as trophies for Man-of-the-Match awards of every game, presented at the end of the Final game.

Our mission is to change the way league cricket is played and to bring all league presidents to the same table, to be sincere with cricket and avoid any under the table deals.