Along with the IPL, American College Cricket is the most important development in world cricket since Kerry Packer in the 1970’s. The LA Daily News showed up to cover the first American College Cricket West Coast Championship – and decorated the newspaper’s website with an article and 24 photos of cricket. Another landmark for the game, and indicative of the strides American College Cricket is making, in bringing the game back into the American and Canadian mainstream.
Just as US colleges provide so much in resources for the training and development of track & field athletes from around the world, so too cricket can benefit from being highlighted on the USA college sports scene.
Young cricket players on the West Coast, and all over the USA now have hope that their talent will have an avenue – to an American athlete what is more exciting than playing for their college team, as evidenced by the $ multi-billion college football and basketball industries?
And so it was that one of the biggest names in sports at any level in the USA (or the world), the University of Southern California took the field in cricket against Thunderbird School of Global Management, Cal State Long Beach and a team composed of students from UC Davis and some top under 19 players. UC Davis Aggies football Tight End Cameron Sentance was present. The venue was the venerable and scenic Woodley Fields (officially called the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex) and it was the first time American Universities on the West Coast were battling in cricket.
The autumn colors ringed the 2 (of 4) cricket fields as the beautiful California sun came out to see the student-athletes in action. But to avoid making the weekend truly heavenly, a record cold greeted the cricket players. Undeterred, the USC, Thunderbird, Cal State & Shiva Vashishat’s team of mainly UC Davis players put blade to ball, dove for catches and to stop runs, and bowled with competitive fire !
NO MORE DISAPPEARING ACTS
In deference to the World Cup USA Captain (at the Under 19 level) Shiva Vashishat’s team participated as “Special Guests”, as due to various factors he had not been able to start a registered club at UC Davis. With talent like Shiva Vashishat & fellow (Under 19) USA players like Saami Siddiqui (UC Berkeley) and Salman Ahmed, Vashishat’s team won their games.
Shiva Vashishat showed his strong leadership skills and with enough competitive cricket, it’s easy to see him in the future possibly leading an All American College team or the USA. Vashishat recently spent a month in India, in cricket camp. It’s unfortunate that talent like Vashishat has disappeared since the World Cup, and is only now being brought back to light with College cricket.
THE TROJANS’ MICHEAL HOLDING AND COLLEGE GAMEDAY
USC came into the Championship determined to come away with the Trophy, as well as exact revenge against Thunderbird, whilst the Cal State team was experienced playing together and was strong. Beginning with the game against their biggest rivals, UCLA, where they amassed 199 runs powered by Abhimanyu’s 65, USC looked good. Their opening batsman/opening fast bowler 6′ 6 Tarun Sandhu reminded one of Michael Holding, as he ran up to bowl.
On College Football Game day, whilst the Trojans football team was not having a good day against rivals Notre Dame, at the Los Angeles Coliseum, the Trojans’’ cricket making a run at a Championship. Fortunately the cricket finished before the cold rain came down, but the football players had to play on.
Cal State Long Beach played well in their entry into American College Cricket to the sound of their school’s rallying cry “Beach!!” Their top runs corers were Ronald Patel 43, Ismail 42 and Jay Varma 39. Whilst Vivek Sharma had the best bowling performance of the Championship, taking 3 wickets for 16 runs. Doing a Fellowship at Cal State allowed a Doctor to play; his name is Dr Healthy Desai!
Thunderbird’s Nimish Jalan was the top all-rounder, slamming 47 in one game and taking the most wickets. Captain Phalgun Balasubramaniam also bowled well. Thunderbird drove 8 hours through desert and mountains to play in the West Coast Championship; such is the spirit of American College Cricket players.
For Vashishat’s team Prumjot Panesar bowled well, Jodha Singh scored 71 and 64 not out, and wicketkeeper Saami Siddiqui 32 *. But the innings of the Championship was 65 by USC’s Dushyant Sharma, which included 6 sixes and 4 fours. Sharma reached his 50 in only 17 balls.
SUPPORT FOR WOODLEY FIELDS
American College Cricket President Lloyd Jodah said “Woodley was chosen as the venue for the West Coast Championship to show support for these beautiful and historic fields. Like the Cricket Stadium in Florida, Woodley has been under threat – 2 of its pitches could have been recently lost to cricket. David Sentance mainly, and I, did our best to halt adverse action for now. We appreciate the Southern California Cricket Association for making it possible for us to play here, and American College Cricket and BIG League USA will continue to do our best to ensure Woodley Fields remains the gorgeous cricket facility it is.”
Since Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rod Stewart, Kobe Bryant, Russell Crowe, Rihanna or Nicole Kidman was not there, presenting the specially designed Trophy was Amanda McCloud who will be representing the town of Topanga Canyon in the Ms California Pageant next year. Amanda presented the trophy to Tarun Tiyagi, Captain of the West Coast Champions, the University of Southern California, to yells of “Fight On!” by the Trojans players as the sun set over the mountains to the west as if to say, it had seen the future of USA cricket in the 5 regional Championships involving 29 Universities of American College Cricket, and now it could rest.