By Sam Sooppersaud
Summer 2010 is long gone and with it the fun of weekend cricket. Wonder how the cricket players are coping now with the cricket less weekends! Many are spending their time catching up with house repair chores, family commitments, and maybe a vacation or two out of town or even out of the country. Maybe some of the boys are just sitting around the house watching old reruns on television. It is not worth watching cricket on the tube as all that is being showed are the highlights of past matches.

Indoor facility in Westbury, Long Island. Photo by Shiek Mohamed.

Many of the guys were probably going to the various sports bars to drink a few beers and watch live cricket. At present test cricket is being played in India and Sri Lanka. Because of the differences in time there are no matches shown and the sports bars in the daytime or early evening. So there goes another avenue for fun.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article suggesting that indoor cricket may be the answer to the problem of boredom. I encouraged the summer cricket players to seek refuge and exercise (practice) at the various indoor cricket facilities. One such facility is in Morristown, New Jersey, too far for the guys in New York City. Another facility is at Westbury, in Nassau County, long Island, the USAICC – United States of America Cricket Club.

Since my last article on indoor cricket I have received numerous calls seeking information. Many of my callers have actually started working out at the Long Island facility. To see how things are getting on, I visited the facility a week ago.

Practice was in session. All four lanes, including the batting/bowling machine lane, were in use. My first impression was that the guys were having a good time working out. Some players were wearing their colored uniforms, while others were in their cricket whites. A cricket atmosphere prevailed.

I spoke to a few players. What was their experience playing indoor as opposed to practicing in the open cricket field?  Ahmed who plays in the Commonwealth League volunteered, “in here it is simply bowling and batting. The wicket is playing different from the matting, you get true bounce”.  Ramesh from the Nassau League said indoors the ball “comes at you, you can play through the line”.

I took the opportunity to get in some practice myself. I joined up with Austin Hutchinson, “Doc” Neville Flowers,  Shaday from Cosmos, and another player  from Hutchie’s club.  I spent about an hour bowling my medium pace out swingers, and once winded,  my off spinners. I had a good workout. You too can come in and enjoy the same.

Hutchie was full of praise for the facility and the workout that a player can get. He pointed out that the wicket is the same as that being used at the indoor practice facility at Lords.  He offered  that though there  are four practice pitches it is very safe as each area is sufficiently protected by regulation cricket nets. Shaday was bowling his left arm “chinaman”.  He said he “feel so good” and that he will definitely be coming back more often to practice.

After I had finished my workout I sat down with the owner of the facility, Bill Ahmed. He is a cricket fan and had played the game at the first class level in Pakistan.  Earlier I saw him bowled a few ripper. He must have been some fast bowler in his days!

Bill said that he was pleased with the response he has been getting so far. The cricketers seem to be working hard at their game and enjoying themselves at the same time. He has been deluded with calls by guys who want to schedule a workout and has tried his best to juggle time slots so that he can accommodate as many players as possible.

The management of USAICC is  working on a plan that will alleviate this scheduling problem.  They  will be offering membership to those interested in coming to the facility to workout. He went through the various membership packages with me.

Package A: Annual membership fee is $300, offered to the first 100 persons who applied. Practice may be scheduled Monday thru Friday,, 5:00 to 11:00 P.M. Fee to be paid in advance. Deadline for this offering is November 30, 2010.

Package B: Annual membership $400, payable $200 in advance and thereafter $50 per month, January thru April. Practice days will be Monday thru Friday, 5:00 to 11:00 P.M.  Deadline is December 31, 2010.

Package C: Annual membership is $600.  Advance payment is $300, the balance to be paid in three installments of $100, in January, February, and March.
Practice days:  all the days of the week, any time slot requested (depending on  availability). Deadline to apply for this membership category is December 31, 2010.

Package D: Semi-Annual membership is $400, to be paid as follows: $200 in advance, with $100 each in January and February 2011. This membership will entitle a person to practice seven days a week. However, on Saturday and Sunday his practice times will be between 9:00 and 4:00 P.M.   Application deadline is December 31, 2010.

All membership will be offered on a first-come first-served basis. USAICC is offering a 30-day cancellation policy on all membership categories. Members will be allowed to play for a maximum of 2 hours at any given time. If lanes are unoccupied, consideration will be given to longer periods of time.

When 400 members have joined up, membership will be closed and no one else will be allowed to join. Only these members will have full and unlimited access to the lanes at all times. No advance booking will be required and members can just turn up to play when they chose.

The facility is opened Monday to Friday: 5:00 to 11:00 P.M. and on Saturday and Sunday 9:00 A.M to 11:00 P.M. Don’t be left out. Join now and enjoy a  winter of cricket.

Contact information: Bill or Joji at (516) 227-2422 or joji@usaicc.com