By James Persaud
It started about fourteen weeks ago when I sat in a meeting with the NYSCL President Mr. Eric Ferrier; the meeting was about starting the youth cricket development program. I had my doubts, not that I didn’t want to go with the program. I just was not sure what support we would receive. The President insisted that we give it a try and after a few days I decided that it was time to get the ball rolling.
Last Sunday after ten weeks of training, the NYSCL Youth Development took on their counter part from Schenectady in their fist inter league (under 15) game. The NYSCL youths departs Queens Sunday morning in a convoy of about eighteen vehicles taking along twenty youth players, moms, fathers and many well wishers.
We arrived in Schenectady at the beautiful Central Park and were welcome by the President of SSBCA Mr. Onkar Singh. Mr. Singh had everything in place as planned for staging of this game; there was a little technical hitch which causes a delay for about an hour.
The youths took in some practice and soon it was game time, Schenectady youths skipper Chris Roopnarine won the toss and asked NYSCL youths skipper Steven Girdhari to occupy the crease first. The NYSCL Youths began their innings with Justin Deopaul and Praveen Persaud, Justin on drive the first ball of the game from Randy to square leg for a boundary. This brings a loud supporting chant from the NYSCL supporters and a new beginning for the game of softball cricket. After the opening pair had put on 16 runs, Justin was run out for 7. This brought Rajesh to the crease; this kid is a well structured player who hit the ball with power. Rajesh and Praveen took the attack to the bowlers and the score raced to 61 in 6 overs, but both Praveen (17) out caught and Rajesh (16) was bowled in the same over by Chris.
The next 4 overs the Schenectady youths were able to contain the batsman and after 10 overs the score was 84. The NYSCL skipper Steven made a quick 11 runs including 2 boundaries before losing his stump to Jonathan, Sanjay Panday (1) was bowled by Chris. Shane Singh got the wickets of Scott for (12) and Kumar Bissassar (5).
The Schenectady youths fielding was outstanding and especially their wicketkeeper Vaiy Persaud, this youth Vaiy is an excellent player and should he keep up his love for the game-he will be an outstanding player in his adult days. The Schenectady Captain Chris a tall lanky and soft spoken young man is a good leader; he showed a good knowledge of the game while keeping his players in control.
In the last five overs the Youths from Queens (as they were called) scored 44 runs bringing their total to 128 for 9 in their allotted overs. This score was spearheaded by some good timely hitting in the late order by Keshan Bissassar who top score with 23 not out, including 1×6 and 4×4. The last wicket partnership between Keshan and Steve added 26 valuable runs. Juliano Valladares score 1; Steve 7 and Randy 3. Shane Singh took 3 for 37, Chris 2 for 9 and Devanand 2 for 19.
The Schenectady Youths send Andy and Mark to do face the attack of Steven and Sanjay, Steven an all rounder who depend on his speed while Sanjay a leg break bowler who gets a lot of turn and could be damaging once his line is correct. The Youths from Queens was having some trouble with their wicket keeping since the regular keeper didn’t make the trip Praveen was doing the keeping and didn’t fair too well.
The Queens supporters was getting a little on the edge as they made it clear that they wanted a new wicketkeeper. Andy a good size youth score 7 runs of the first over from Steven, in the second over of the innings from Sanjay, he found the leg stump of Mark (3) and he was bowled behind his back. NYSCL Youth Captain Steven believed that he would be of more help to his team behind the stump and he took the gloves. The new batsman Kenneth faces the new bowler Rajesh who took a hard return catch with his first ball and Kenneth was gone without scoring.
Sanjay next over cost 11 runs and he was replaced by Praveen who took the wicket of Shane (3) with his fourth ball. After 4 overs the score was 27 for 3, in the fifth over Rajesh first ball removed Andy off stump and the Queens kids looked as if they were having an easy day. But this was not to be as the skipper Chris Roopnarine and Vaiy Persaud began to play themselves in and the score board began to move in a positive direction.
The NYSCL Captain who showed excellent leadership and was always keeps his players involved by calling them to the middle many times and having a team discussion. The fielding of the Queens kids was getting a little loose while Chris and Vaiy were batting very smart and piles on the runs.
Vaiy a very fidgety batsman who plays very good cricket strokes while his skipper Chris just hold his end of the partnership and the two added 40 runs.
Randy was brought into the attack and he started out very bad bowling 4 wides in the over, he found the middle stump of Chris with the last ball of the over. Another a new bowler came into the attack, Scott and Vaiy scored a double and a six then he hit one straight to the safe hands of Rajesh and he was gone for a well played innings of 32 runs. The fall of this wicket bring the two hard hitting Devanand and Randy together and the buzz around the park that this was the pair to bring the game home.
Sanjay was brought back into the attack; Devanand struck him for a six, dot ball, four, four, dot ball and the last ball removed his leg stump. Juliano came on the attack and he bowled a few wide before he removes the middle stump of Nicholas. Steven had no fear in using his players and he brought Justin into the attack and he had Randy caught for 7 runs.
While all this actions was taking place on the field there were too many actions, words of support, blowing of bull horn and waving of the Guyana flag by both teams’ supporters. The game came down to the last over, 6 runs needed and 2 wickets standing. Steven called his players together and had a long discussion and then gave the ball to Praveen who had 1 over remaining.
Everyone in the stands was standing as Praveen makes his strides to bowl; the first ball was touch for a single, the fielders was moved and placed like a circle around the batsman, a next single, Joshua is bowled, wide, single, wide, looking into the stand from the field the crowd on the left side was getting very displaced and on the edge. With 1 ball remaining and still 2 runs needed, the batsman made a huge swing and the ball hit his feet and they try to run, Rajesh field the ball and ran straight to the stump and removed the bails making sure he got there for the run out and NYSCL Youths won the game.
At the awards ceremony after the game both league President Mr. Ferrier and Mr. Singh spoke about the momentous of this game and what it will hold for the future of softball cricket. They both thank everyone for coming out and for all the support, all the goodies and drinks they supply for the day.
Every player on the traveling and home team was presented with a trophy, NYSCL Youth Keshan Bissassar received a trophy for his batting and Praveen Persaud took one home for his bowling. On the Schenectady team Vaiy Persaud took the batting award and Shane Singh took the bowling award. The NYSCL Youths Captain Steven Girdhari was asked to say a few words about the game, he began by saying that he was very please with all the support he received from his players and he thanked both leagues for making the game possible. He was asked about the last over and he said even though he had over to bowl, he felt he is of more value to the team as the wicketkeeper at that point of the game and he didn’t feel that he had the nerve to bowl that last over. He continues by saying that he has played many cricket games with Praveen and that he trusts him to get the job done and he glad that he did.
On behalf of the NYSCL I would like to thank all the people who have help making this possible, all the guys who came out on Sunday mornings to help with the coaching and Sase Raday for managing the youth team. Thanks to the supplier of the trophies Ravi of Cricket Zone and Trophy World. A special thanks to the SSBCA organization all the moms and pops and well wishers who made the trip to Schenectady last Sunday. Thanks to the NYSCL executives, committees members and the scorers for their input in making this possible. I am glad to be part of this and all along I knew there is a reason why I love this game.