From the West Indies to Queens, Cricket Carries On

by Stephen Jiwanmall, Trinidadian Beat Reporter — 

Ralph Tamesh looked at the sky and shook his head. Rain had squashed his plans for the day – literally. As he surveyed a small cricket field in Queens last month, he knew the game would have to be rescheduled, but he held out hope that the rains would let up. They never did.

Tamesh is the president of the Indo-Caribbean Federation, a New York-based organization that hosts an annual cricket match between teams representing Trinidad and Guyana. The game brings together hundreds of West Indians and cricket fans from all over the city and carries on a love for the sport that goes back nearly 175 years on the shores of the Caribbean.

When slaves from colonial India came to Trinidad in 1838, they brought with them the game of cricket – a British sport that resembles baseball. Since that time, Trinidadians – Trinis, for short – have embraced cricket as an unofficial national sport.

Yesterday, the West Indian men’s cricket team won the World T-20 Championship. For Tamesh, this recent success comes from a natural love for the sport.

“At a very young age, you’ve got a ball and bat in your hands,” he said. “It’s part of the culture. They grew up with it, and they look up to older players. They want to mold themselves into that.”

Ozone Park resident Glen Lorick is the captain of the Trinidad team that plays in the tournament, which is now in its 22nd year. When he was 19, he came to the United States with a desire to play cricket.

In the United States, cricket fades in comparison to baseball in terms of popularity, Lorick said, but in Trinidad, it’s considered their national pastime.

“While growing up, all of us, neighbors, that’s all we do,” he said. “We got a passion and a love for it. That’s our main sport.”

Many Trinis like Lorick who have come to America have carried on that passion for the game, and New York City in particular has transformed into a cricket mecca for this community and for West Indians in general.

Eight cricket leagues spread out across the city, six hardball and two softball, also known among Trinis as “winball.” Lorick said Trinis don’t have a specific league or club, but it isn’t hard to find them.

“Most of us play in different clubs,” said Lorick, who plays for the Staten Island Cricket Club in the Metropolitan League. “Trinidad’s team [for the tournament] would be based on guys playing in about seven or eight clubs in the area. We don’t play for the same club, but we play for the same country together.”

Lorick, along with Tamesh and Guyana’s captain Karan Ganesh, selected their national squads after evaluating players’ statistics and performances in their leagues. Both teams narrowed their rosters to a starting 11 lineup and a few alternates. Tamesh said the quality of players in this tournament has always been top-notch.

“The spectators, the cricket fans in the New York area know this is one of the biggest games of the year, and they look forward to it because of the competitiveness,” he said.

The rivalry between Trinidad and Guyana at the annual tournament has always been feisty, Lorick said. He has been a part of the event since its first game in 1989. During the first few years, fights would break out in the stands between fans of the two countries, he said. He couldn’t put his finger on why fans got hostile, but tension eased as time passed. Lorick said the mood changed once the fans saw that players from both countries respected each other and the game.

“Right now, it’s just bragging rights, and we get along really well,” he said. “When we come to the ground, we have fun with it. It’s just a day of cricket.”

Nevertheless, the tournament has brought out the best in both nations. Guyana has the edge in victories, winning 15 of the 22 yearly matches.

“Everybody looks forward to seeing the game,” Tamesh said. “They’re rooting for their own country. They want to see their country win. The cricket is very competitive, but at the end of the day – the camaraderie between the players and the spectators – they all have a good time.”

The competitiveness of the match has roots in each country’s desire to be a cricket power, especially in the Caribbean. In prominent international tournaments, neither country has its own team. Rather, a team is formed with players from the countries and territories in the region.

“The level of cricket is very high in the Caribbean,” Tamesh said. “The nature of the selection of the West Indies team, you have about seven countries that are vying for a player to get into that team, so they all have to play at their best.”

In New York, cricket is well established within the West Indian communities, but Lorick said that the future of the sport depends on whether or not the new generation picks up the passion from the older one.

“Competitively, cricket is here, but we’re having a problem in New York,” he said. “I’ve been around a long time, and I thought 20 years ago, we’d have introduced cricket into the school system. Fortunately, we did it about five or six years ago.”

The Public Schools Athletic League was created in 2008 with 14 schools in the city. Now, 26 schools form five mini-leagues, compete for an annual championship, and play in the Mayor’s Cup all-star game at the end of the school year.

Though Lorick said he enjoys the rivalry and driven nature of cricket, he emphasized that the sport shouldn’t be taken so seriously.

“In life, when we leave here, we don’t know what tomorrow brings,” he said. “In any sport you’re going to play, please just enjoy it for the game, for the fun of it. Enjoy it like when you were a kid. Just enjoy whatsoever you’re doing today.”

Note: The tournament was played on Saturday, September 15. Guyana won the match in front of nearly 400 spectators at Baisley Pond Park.

One Response to “From the West Indies to Queens, Cricket Carries On”

  1. coach outlet says:

    louis vuitton outlet
    coach outlet
    cheap oakley sunglasses
    oakley sunglasses outlet
    louis vuitton handbags
    coach factory outlet
    coach outlet store online
    coach factory
    coach outlet
    prada outlet
    air jordan
    true religion jeans
    coach factory outlet
    louis vuitton outlet
    coach factory outlet
    oakley sunglasses
    michael kors
    coach factory outlet
    prada handbags
    coach outlet
    louis vuitton handbags
    cheap oakley sunglasses
    cheap jordan
    true religion jeans outlet
    louis vuitton
    coach factory
    coach store online
    coach factory online
    michael kors outlet
    coachfactory.com
    coach factory outlet
    prada handbags
    michael kors outlet
    coach outlet store online
    coach outlet
    valentino
    valentino shoes
    louis vuitton outlet
    coach outlet online
    coach factory outlet online
    isabel marant Shoes
    coach outlet store online
    timberland boots
    coach outlet
    oakley sunglasses
    coach outlet online
    coachfactory.com
    true religion outlet
    coach outlet
    coach outlet store online
    coach factory
    coach factory outlet
    timberland shoes
    true religion outlet
    coach outlet store online
    coach outlet
    coach factory
    coach factory outlet
    true religion
    coach outlet store online
    true religion jeans
    coach factory
    louis vuitton
    coach factory outlet
    michael kors outlet
    coach factory outlet
    polo ralph lauren
    coach outlet store online
    tiffany and co
    coach factory outlet
    coach outlet online
    michael kors outlet online
    coach outlet online
    coach factory outlet online
    celine outlet
    cheap toms
    coach outlet
    celine handbags
    marc jacobs outlet
    michael kors purses
    coach outlet
    ralph lauren
    coach factory outlet
    toms shoes
    coach outlet online
    supra shoes
    coach outlet
    fitflop outlet
    tiffany jewelry
    tiffany and co
    coach factory
    michael kors outlet online
    coach outlet
    michael kors outlet store
    marc jacobs
    celine bags
    coach factory outlet
    coach handbags outlet
    timberland boots
    michael kors factory outlet
    fitflops
    coach factory outlet
    toms shoes
    louis vuitton handbags
    oakley sunglasses cheap

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


Leave a Reply

Torch on Twitter