By Sam Sooppersaud
The statement of the tournament, one which baffles the mind, was uttered by Team USA’s coach, Clayton Lambert. This is what he said, giving justification for Assistant Coach Johnson being included in a playing Eleven: “…our main reason for coming here is to try to get to Division 2…..” Wow! Thanks for letting us know why the USA cricket team was in Hong Kong. Clayton, we didn’t know that! I am glad that you have enlightened us on the purpose for your squad being in the tournament. Do you suppose the other five teams were in the tournament to “try to get to Division 2” also? Guess we have to ask a rocket scientist for the answer to this question? On second guess, Clayton, I think they were there to “try to get to Division 2”
Clayton’s quote of the tournament continues, “…and other than Howard Johnson’s age, if he is up for trials or selection, he can walk into the team”. You are absolutely correct, Clayton, he can walk into the team. He wasn’t “up for trials”, yet he walked into the team. Would I be wrong to interpret this “walk into the team” to mean that if you are a favorite son then you are assured of selection in the squad?
Let’s see, what else went wrong on the tour. Oh, yes, we were skittle out for the dismal score of 44 runs by Papua New Guinea. If you analyze the comments made by Man of the Match, Rarua Dikana, you would think that the US batsmen were asleep at the crease. “I don’t think the US batsmen played badly, I just think they didn’t know how to read our bowlers…” Ever try to read a book while intermittently napping? You would miss the essence of the story, wouldn’t you? This is what befell USA batsmen. They were napping at the crease. They did not apply themselves.
In the Denmark vs USA game, we continued our erratic play. Denmark defeated us by 30 runs. The Dane’s captain contributed their victory to our lackluster performance in the field. “….we were also aided in making our total by some poor fielding by the USA…” This was one instance of the many lapses that contributed to our downfall in the tournament.
In our second game against Denmark, our sixth and final game of the tournament we continued our loosing ways. Denmark scored a somewhat respectable total of 240 runs when they took first knock, with the help of our impotent bowling attack. To quote a Dane player, “the USA’s bowlers couldn’t seem to find the right areas…” The task of making 241 runs in 50 overs was too insurmountable for the US batsmen. Yet another quota, “the USA batting fell short of the mark once more”
With all the disappointment, due to our performance, ah, lack of performance, the most disgusting saga was our skipper, Steve Massiah being disciplined for unsportsmanlike conduct. He was reported by the field umpires for “showing dissent to an umpiring decision”. He (Massiah) pleaded guilty to breaching Article2, Section 2.1.3. of the ICC Code which relates to “showing dissent to an umpire’s decision during and international match”. Our skipper was cautioned by Match Referee Graeme La Brooy who lectured him as follows: “I hope Mr. Massiah has learned that there is no place for this type of behavior in the game and that the spirit of the game should be maintained at all times. I also trust that in the future, he will be more courteous and pay others the respect they deserve”.
Our Steve has always modeled himself on Australia’s captain, Ricky Ponting. But, did he have to “pull a Ponting” on the umpires in Hong Kong, referring to Ponting being disciplined for showing dissent to an umpire’s decision during a test match in the last Ashes series in Australia.
Cricket fans, players, and cricket administrators’ right here in the USA have been complaining all along of Massiah’s unsportsmanlike demeanor. In the Senior National Championship Tournament held at Lauderhill Cricket Stadium, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, New York Region’s captain, Steve Massiah, along with some of his charges bluntly refused or neglected to shake the hands of players from the side which had just defeated them. This is the same Massiah who disgraced us in Hong Kong. What was done by USACA? Don’t know, can’t say! Did it have to take an ICC match referee to drive the point home to the USACA board that Steve Massiah is not “leadership material”. So it seems. Hope USACA Board will take the appropriate steps this time!
To begin with, the USACA Board should immediately strip Steve Massiah of the captaincy. In addition, our leading cricket body should impose some sort of sanction on him. What kind of a sanction, I will leave that to the Board to decide. No doubt he is still one of the finest batsmen in this country at this time. He should, however, be made to earn his selection for future tournaments. He should no longer be “an automatic pick” the privilege he enjoyed as captain of the US team.
We ended the ICC WCL Division 3 Tournament at the bottom of the pork barrel. We came in sixth in a field of six. This is what Steve Massiah had to say summarizing our participation in the tournament: “Along with the entire team I am hugely disappointed to be relegated back to Division 4. We didn’t prepare for this tournament as well as we have done in other events and our performances here were nothing like what we know we are capable of when we play cricket”. Not good enough Steve, coming from a captain. We would rather you have said that the USA was beaten comprehensively and that we intend to work harder to regain our respectability on the cricket field. This the fans would have accepted.
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