21st May: Chennai Super Kings v M. Indians, 14:30 GMT
16th-20th May: 1st Test, Lord's
Two American School Teams - one, its members born in America and moved to cricket, the other Team's members were born in Cricket and moved to America. Together they are symbols of what could be the future of Cricket in America
May 31st 2009 they come together in a day of firsts - the first American College Cricket Champions Montgomery College will play Cardinal Gibbons High School in a Cricket Match (20 overs ) in Maryland.
Montgomery College won the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship,which took place March 2009 in Florida and garnered American mainstream Media attention from the New York Times and Sports Illustrated as well worldwide including India, England, Australia, and Pakistan.
The Cardinal Gibbons High School is made up of Americans whose families are NOT from the major cricket-playing countries. Started by 19 players, none of whom had played cricket before last year. Most of the players are honor students, and some had not played a high school sport before this. Though new to the game, the players have learned much; and are a very committed group, having each paid $100 to cover the team's start-up expenses. They sometimes must endure the taunts of their friends, but truly believe in the mission of spreading youth cricket in the U.S.Recently, the American-born players were joined by two new players, one from South Africa and another from Jamaica.
Jamie Harrison of Cardinal Gibbons School is the program director, and two former international players from Barbados, Gregory Alleyne and Trevor Roberts, coach the squad. The school is very supportive of cricket, with the sport beginning to be taught in P.E. classes this school year.
The team began playing on May 16 in a brand new area youth league.League matches are held in Baltimore, Prince George's County and in Northern Virginia.
On the other hand National Champions Montgomery College is made up of players whose families immigrated from major cricket playing countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Though comprised of experienced players, it did not even exist before the Championship. Maryland reporters contacting the College after the victory were told by surprised college officials that they were not aware of the existence of a Cricket Team. Once the school found out about the Team Montgomery College has been supportive and celebratory. Captain Adil Bhatti was invited to address students about his Teams’ victory, and according to Bhatti the school is encouraging the creation of a Cricket Club. MC wants to repeat as Champions at the 2010 American college Cricket Spring Break Championship,
"Many students have contacted me, wanting to play cricket” Bhatti said.
The road to the Championship was difficult for the Montgomery Team whose members were “all from Gaithersburg, Rockville, Germantown and Silver Springs “ Bhatti said. “We couldn’t find places to play and were constantly being chased from tennis courts and any open space where we tried to play cricket. Mostly we played with MRI tennis balls to avoid causing damage”.
The match will be very interesting and meaningful, pitting players with cricketing pedigree (Montgomery College) against athletes who are relative newcomers to the game (Cardinal Gibbons ).
Montgomery showed its batting firepower in the recent American College Cricket Championship by accumulating scores of 223 for 5 off 20 overs , 216 for 7 off 19 overs,and 175 for 3 in 20 overs. Stylish and consistent Danish Ashgar, Series MVP Mohamed Khamran,Captain and all-rounder Adil Bhatti, Ankit Sehgal and Sadiq Naseer were outstanding. Their batting, even on rain-slick outfields made it easy for their Bowlers as batting first MC always put up a daunting total. It would probably be better for Cardinal Gibbons to bat first. But the College's bowlers are not to be undersetmated, bowling out the strong University of South Florida Team in the Finals for only 120 runs.
Cardinal Gibbons’ best players are talented athletes some of whom also excell in other sports :
The Captain Jon Marshall RH batsman is on the school’s baseball team. Will Berkey, vice Captain and RH batsman is on the school’s golf Team. Will Foy RH batsman is a member of the school’s Lacrosse team. Don Erdman , RH is a Pace bowler who can also bat and Justin Bruchey , RH batsman and wicketkeeper.
However it will be tough for the Cardinal Gibbons guys, after all the Montgomery guys looked like a professional machine in the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship. When asked what he thought of the upcoming match the ACC Championship MVP Khamran was appreciative of the attention he and the MC Team has been recieving, saying “I’m so thankful that the American College Cricket Championship happened, to give us the chance and I think its great what’s happening at Cardinal Gibbons so when Lloyd suggested giving them a shot at us, we were all for it.”
Suchit Laheri, a key Montgomery player said "I admire the fact that the Gibbons guys are willing to take us on."
The game is a significant event in American sports as it’s another step in cricket’s return to the American Sports landscape which it abdicated over 100 years ago. Also coming as it does just after the National Under 19 Tournament to select a Team to represent the US in the in Canada this July the Cardinal Gibbons players have the opportunity to catch the eye of USA Cricket.
For their part the Montgomery College players are enjoying being the American College Cricket Champions as they embark on a series of matches over the coming months. Next is a game against the NYC Public High Schools All Stars on June 20, at Gateway Park in Brooklyn.
" I read that the ICC is allowing the US to take part in the World T20 Qualifier in October so this is a very exciting time for a young American cricket player." Adil Bhatti said.
The Game starts at 11 am at Kenmoor Middle School, 2500 Kenmoor Drive, Landover, MD 20785.
Written by Lloyd Jodah and Jamie Harrison