2013 Cricket Hall of Fame
By STAN WALKER
Former West Indies captain and world-class fast bowler Ambassador Courtney Walsh said that for cricket, the second most popular sport in the world, to become one of the top sports in the U.S., it will need a great amount of dedication, communication and commitment from those who are involved in working towards its development in the country.
“I am committed to help with the building of the sport in any place, and would be happy to see the U.S. playing in the top competitions,” Walsh who was the top honoree at in this year’s class of Cricket Hall of Fame’s inductees said at the ceremony, which was held at the Hilton Hotel downtown Hartford on Saturday, October 5.
Walsh who represented the West Indies from 1984-2001, is best known for a remarkable opening bowling partnership with fellow West Indian Curtly Ambrose. He held the record of most Test wickets from 2000. The record was broken in 2004 by Muttiah Muralitharan of Sri Lanka.
Paying tribute to one of the other inductees, Desmond Lewis, another former West Indian Test player, Walsh said “I am proud to be honored in the same room with him. He is a very good role model, one of the persons I learned from.” He urged youngsters to listen to the older players especially when they tell you about their experiences. This is a good way to learn the game, he said.
Lewis in his response spoke about how he got started in the game and the help that he received which enabled him to get to the top. “Cricket has been good to me,” he said. “It gave me a very rewarding life.” He paid tribute to his late father for his help and thanked his wife who he said is equally deserving of the honor and award that he was receiving, for her support.
Five individuals Alcious Watson, a founder of the Connecticut Cricket League, Roy Reid, an entrepreneur, philanthropist and cricketer, who has devoted much of his youth and adult life to the game, Venelda Wallace, who was born in the U.S., but grew up in Jamaica where she learned the game, and has since made a great deal of contributions to nearly all cricket organizations in New York, Mavis Johnson, a female cricket administrator who has served the game for over 35 years and Dr. Mohamed Ali, who has made outstanding contributions to the development of the sport in the U.S. especially towards the youths, were also inducted for their outstanding contributions to the development and growth of the sport in the U.S.
Each of them delivered brief addresses in which they gave the gathering the history of how they got involved with the game here in the U.S. They expressed that their love for the game pushed them to make the contributions that led to them being honored with induction into the Cricket Hall of Fame. At the end of their speech, they were given rousing applause for the important role that they played to help keep the game alive in the country.
Darren Beazley, the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA), who attended, and was given the opportunity to address the gathering, spoke of his plans to work on getting more Americans involved in playing the game. Referring to his experience in the development of certain sports in his native country Australia, he said that he has set a very ambitious goal which hopefully should start to show the changes in the approach to the game here within the next three years.
“We are talking to people. We need people and money, more Americans to get involved in playing of the game from the grass roots level,” he said. “I have come up with a brand new document to work with cricket in all the regions and will be working on getting a serious junior level developed. America is the land of opportunity where you can take your dream and make it a reality and this is exactly what I aim to do,” he said.
Mahammad Qureshi, head of Cricket Council USA, who was also in attendance, was presented with a citation from the city in recognition of the outstanding work that he is doing in the promotion and development of the sport in the U.S. Expressing how impressed he was with the work of the Hall of Fame, he spoke of his plans to spread his annual U.S. open tournament all over the country.
Entertainment at the very impressive program was provided by gospel singer AnnMarie St. James, who came in from St. Lucie, Florida, and members of the Caribbean American Dance Company, a local dance troop.