As the lyrics from the classic 1942 movie Casablanca sung by the legendary character Sam suggests, “You must remember this…” The Casablanca Cricket Club will no doubt remember last weekend’s defeat at the hands of the youthful New York Youths Cricket Club (NYYCC), for some time. The youth XI with an average age of 16 years have been “play(ing) it again Sam” in a winning manner for the past eight matches, racing to an 8-0 debut in the American Cricket League in New York.

Omar Afridi cracked an elegant 112 against Casablanca. Photo: John Aaron

NYYCC’s Omar Afridi cracked 112 and Rafeek Nazeer 93, as New York Youths racked up 274 for three against Casablanca Cricket Club last Saturday at Canarsie Park at 108th Street, in Brooklyn, NY. The two batsmen shared a record 239 runs partnership for the second wicket in a blistering attack which was not hindered by the high grass on one side of the field.

Opening batsman Nazeer hit six fours and one six while the number three batsman Omar Afridi, hit nine fours. The pair came together with the score at 16 after Surrendra Singh was given out lbw off Niles for six. Nazeer eventually got out stumped by Estwick off Jeffrey for a well played 93. Needless to say, the 15 year-old returned to the pavilion very disappointed, having missed a ton.

Omar Afridi again proved his class by moving from 91 to his century with 3 fours. After Afridi was out lbw to Jeffrey for a masterful innings of 112, Zahib Tariq continued the onslaught, and at the conclusion of the inning, he was not out on 16 and Syed Hussain was not out on four. Casablanca’s B. Jeffrey finished with 2 for 52 and A. Niles took 1 for 22.  National selector Barney Jones was present to watch the game and get an up close look at the youth cricketers.

Casablanca never took on the chase and only T. Roye with 31, A Sealey with 12 and B. Jeffrey with 11 reached double figures as “mystery bowler,” Syed Hussain snatched 6 for 22 in 8 overs, slightly off his season best of 7 for 24 against an MVP Cricket Club two weeks ago. Off-spinner Zahib Tariq took 2 for 4 in five overs and medium-fast Chris Singh took 1 for 32 in 8 overs as Casablanca fell for 72 runs.

Even 15 year-old Ryan Persaud got into the action as he had the last batsman caught behind the wicket, finishing with 1 wicket for 0 runs in 3 balls.  Omar Afridi capped a great day with three dismissals behind the stumps. After the game, the team was royally treated by the hosts Casablanca Cricket Club; clearly demonstrating that cricket is sometimes not all about winning or losing, but the camaraderie and friendships that so often result.

Trinson Carmichael had 5 for 12 against Knight Riders. Photo by Shiek Mohamed

On Sunday, at Beach Channel 32 in New York, the NYYCC took on the Knight Riders which turned out to be the worst team faced so far.  Knight Riders won the toss and batted first, with none of its batsmen reaching double figures, as the Knight Riders were bowled out for 34 in 12 overs. Trinson Carmichael took 5 for 12 in 6 overs, Chris Singh 4 for 17 in 5 overs, and Randall Wilson 1 for 1 in 1 over.

This was a chance for Chetram “Mario” Persaud and Surrendra Singh to show their skills as opening batsmen and they did not disappoint as they knocked off the runs without loss in 8 overs. The next game for the 8-0 team is against Ardsley C.C. at Beach Channel 32 this coming Sunday, June 24.

The NYYCC is a cohesive product in the making, and under the watchful eyes of veteran cricket administrator Clifford Hinds and former Guyana national wicket-keeper Milton Pydanna. Together, the two gentlemen continue to demonstrate that like politics, cricket is all local, and that at the grass roots level success can be accomplished without all the trappings of political bureaucracy.