They grew up as friends in Lynn, Massachusetts. Typical American boys, one played mainly lacrosse & ice hockey, the other football and baseball. Then about five years ago, Norris Guscott, the elder of the two friends visited England and was introduced to cricket - though his father was from England and his mother Jamaica.
He came back convinced that if he and his friends learnt the game they would "dominate!" (Visions of being Napoleon haunt every young man).
Norris began to learn the basics and convinced his childhood friend, the hockey/lacrosse player, Danny Yetman, that this was a brilliant idea! They then "snapped the blade off" one of Danny’s hockey sticks, & constructed a wicket, then played their first 'game' in the snow.
As Norris tells it, "My first pair of 'wicket-keeping gloves' were heavy duty garden glove and a baseball served as our cricket ball- we made it work though.
"Ultimately, we moved to school yards and then settled on a caged in area very near and dear to our hearts called Flax Pond, where we learned the basics of cricket. It taught us to play controlled aerial shots and to hit along the ground because if you didn’t – right in the pond it would go.
"Also because it was usually just us two and one other person, we had to learn how to do it all - bowl, bat, and keep wicket. Dan and I like to say that Lynn is a breeding ground for all-rounders.
"We spent hours watching/reading current material on technique and even more applying them in practice. We watch almost every international match, play as much cricket as we can (mini cricket indoors too!)"
Danny Yetman, 22, was born in Salem, Massachusetts but grew up in Lynn, where he became childhood best friends with Norris. Danny played hockey for 15 years (he was a goalie),and lacrosse at a Div 1 high school where he also did some lacrosse coaching.
Inspired by Norris, as Dan explained, "In the summer, we would play cricket from the time we woke up, until we couldn’t see the ball."
We asked Dan some questions.
Q: Harvard has played a major role in US sports history, starting with cricket and rowing then later football. Now in just a year, a revived Harvard Cricket club, led by Ibrahim Khan, competed in a National and Regional and the Ivy League Championship, then won the home and away league Championship. Along the way you, and the Club ,have been covered by your hometown paper, the Boston Globe and the Harvard Gazette. How does it feel to be a part of such a year?
A: Playing for Harvard is truly a blessing for me. We had an outstanding season. I couldn’t be more proud of our team and especially our captain Ibrahim Khan. He is an inspiration to me, and my fellow teammates. His saying "over by over, ball by ball", has stuck with me and my teammates all season and it will be a motto for the Crimson for many years to come.
American College Cricket has done an outstanding job of bringing competitive cricket back to the United States. I love the idea of regional tournaments such as the Northeast regional and the Ivy League Championships, then a National Championship that allows all the best colleges in the country to compete against each other! Its very good that American College Cricket encourages games on campus so that its noticed by anyone walking by, people often stop to ask what exactly is happening or what the sport is, and to me that’s the best way to spread the game in the United States."
Q: Who are your favourite International players ?
A: My favourite current batsman would be either Jacques Kallis or Alastair Cook. My favourite current bowler would have to be Graeme Swann, and of all time it would be Shane Warne. I love following the England squad but I also like the West Indies.
Q: What do your family & non-cricket friends think of your ‘new’ love ?
A: My friends and family are very supportive of me playing cricket. They enjoy hearing about a game that is not so popular in the United States, I have informed many people that cricket is much more alive in this country than they know. I also have many friends who come to games regularly, and they have a great time.
This coincides with what Norris said, "Dan and I are trying (and succeeding) in bringing our American friends to matches and introducing them to cricket. I don’t know why people reckon it’s so hard to get Americans into cricket."
In the American College Cricket Ivy League Championship, Princeton had Harvard on the ropes, at 84 for seven, needing 108 to win, with practically all the top batting gone. Danny strode to the wicket, and confidently cutting past point, and pulling backward of square leg he scored four fours in his 18 not out to get Harvard to victory, and the Finals. Earlier, he had taken two wickets for 17 runs to top the bowling. Danny was the game MVP.
In Home and Away matches he averaged 56. Batting three times with two not out and a highest score of 34 not out, he also took four wickets. At the Nationals he scored 47 at an average of 23.5, with a best of 26 and took three wickets for 18 runs in the one game he bowled.
American College Cricket President Lloyd Jodah said, "Norris and Danny’s story of their cricket development reminds me of my brothers’ and myself, except we learnt the game as tots, whilst these two cricket brothers learnt theirs as young men.
"It's a pleasure to have Danny Yetman as our fifth John Bart King Award winner. He is a meritorious ambassador of American College Cricket and the game."
Previous winners of the John Bart King Award are:
2009 – Curt Sonnet (George Washington U)
2010 – Ian Carlin (College of Wooster), appeared in the pre-Super Bowl Jan 31, 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated
2011 – Darren Stortz (U of Iowa)
2012 – Nick Mancino (U of Pennsylvania)
The John Bart King Award is named in honor of America’s greatest cricket player. It is awarded annually to an American College Cricket player, who learnt, and plays despite having no previous family connection to cricket.
© Cricket World 2014