New York has become the bedrock for Guyanese cricketers and the importation of the culture of cricket rivalry.
[Guyana Tri-County Games Media Release]
By John L. Aaron
USA skipper Steve Massiah is headlining several very talented USA and national players from Guyana in next weekend’s 2012 Guyana Inter-County Games at Idlewild Park in Rosedale, Queens, NY. Massiah will skipper a representative Demerara XI, one of the three participating county teams that also includes USA national player Amarnauth Persaud, while Guyana national player Jonathan Foo, USA national players Quasen Alfred, Kevin Darlington and Gregory Sewdial, will suit up for Berbice County. Azurdeen Mohammed and Clain Williams, USA national players will wear the colors of the Cinderella County of Essequibo.
Guyana, with a population density of less than 10 persons per square mile, is the only English-speaking nation on the South American continent, but has produced countless world-class Test cricketers over the years, so it stands to reason that many players who have been knocking on the doors of Test cricket have made quite a name for themselves at the First-class level, despite not going on to represent the abundantly talented former British colony on the international cricket circuit.
The vast country of just under 800,000 citizens is divided into three counties and demarcated by rivers bearing the names of the counties; Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo. Thus, for many, many years the rivalry between the counties in cricket has been a fierce one. With the migration of thousands of Guyanese to North America, that rivalry has followed the new immigrants here, with some 220,000 Guyanese living in America. Many of those reside in the New York metropolitan area. Therefore, New York has become the bedrock for Guyanese cricketers and the importation of the culture of cricket rivalry.
With a heavy concentration of very talented cricketers in the New York area, it was only a matter of time that the rivalry between the expatriate county teams would become a part of the cricket landscape. Billed as the 2012 Guyana Inter-County Games, this year’s T20 event has been attracting great interest and generating a lot of buzz in the cricketing community. The event is scheduled for Saturday, August 25 at Idlewild Park, located at 223rd Street and 147th Avenue in Rosedale, NY. The T20 tournament follows three previous high caliber cricket events over the years, and on the annual New York cricket calendar; The Red Stripe/Guinness Championship, Ed Ahmad New York Caribbean Cricket Cup, and the 2A’s Mechanical, Inc. sponsored Guyana Inter-County T20 tournaments.
However, with the recent economic downturn and the subsequent decline in sponsorship for those premier events, Tournament Organizer Telston Johnson, in a spirited move this year, sought to resurrect the rivalry between the three Guyana counties. According to Mr. Johnson, “We needed a top quality cricket event just like we previously had with those tournaments,” adding, “…the players need it, the public wants it, and it’s a good thing for cricket in the metropolitan area. It’s an opportunity for players to showcase their talents to cricket administrators and selectors alike.”
For the past several months Johnson, an all-rounder who hails from the Essequibo region of Guyana and a member of the Big Apple Cricket Club in the Eastern American Cricket Association, has worked diligently to secure sponsorship from small businesses and individuals, rather than the Big Box or corporate sponsors. Traditionally, with the exception of Red Stripe/Guinness and the Ed Ahmad Group of Companies, sponsorship of cricket in the New York area is supported largely by mom and pop businesses, and benevolent individuals.
Mr. Johnson noted his appreciation of the eagerness of Terry Dat in spear-heading the effort to acquire financial support for the event, at times from his own resources. He was also high in his praise for the support provided by Shiek Mohamed and newyorkcricket.com in promoting the event. Mr. Johnson pointed out that the event was designed to be self-sustaining with an entry registration fee of USD$500 and a USD$2.00 per ticket raffle that is expected to raise USD$3,000. That amount combined with the registration fees would cover most of the cash first and second prizes of USD$3,000 and USD$2,000 respectively. The remaining and other operating expenses are expected to come from cricket enthusiasts in the area, as well as businesses within the Guyanese Diaspora.
The raffle will be drawn at the event next Saturday with a first-prize of an Android Tablet, second-prize is a digital camera, and the third-prize is a surprise autographed cricket bat. The fourth and fifth prizes are “Bowl-off Opportunities” for USD$200 and USD$100 respectively.
The two-match event scheduled to start at 10:00am will be streamed live via www.newyorkcricket.com with live scoring provided. When asked what he hoped to accomplish by almost single-handily hosting such a cricket event, Telston Johnson stated, “I am hoping to energize the cricket community to come out to see and support the upcoming stars, as well as the talented senior players who have delighted the New York cricketing community in recent times.” The diminutive, but energetic pacer hopes to make the event an annual one in the New York area. He should not have much to worry about in the talent pool, as each month sees a cadre of talented cricket players from Guyana migrate to the USA and settle in the Borough of Queens and neighboring communities.
In addition to the cash prizes, several individual performance awards will be distributed. One of the three teams will draw a bye on August 25th, with the remaining two County squads battling it out in the first match to earn the right to face the winner of the bye for the championship.
The representative Guyana County teams are expected to be selected from the following squads.
Berbice: Quasen Alfred, Sharaz Baksh, Kavishwar Bridgepaul, Kaleem Bux, Triston Carmichael, Kevin Darlington, Jonathan Foo, Karan Ganesh, Ryan Girdharry, Andrew Gonsalves, Michael Noble, Trevis Ross, Gregory Sewdial and Vijai Sewnarine.
Manager: Chubb Bedessee, Coach: Linden Fraser.
Demerara: Safraz Ali, Ramphal Bactowar, Akeem Dodson, Romeno Dean, Dino Chow-Wee-Nam, Azamudeen Khan, Melroy Kingston, Troy Mars, Steve Massiah, Francis Mendonca, Kumar Nandalall, Amarnauth Persaud, Ryan Persaud, Zaheer Saffie and Trevor Singh.
Managers: Kerk Higgins and Jerry Persaud.
Essequibo: Deonauth Baksh, Tamesh Balwant, Mark Gomes, Azam Hanif, Telston Johnson, Rafman Khan, Prashad Mahadeo, Zaaid Majeed, Shawn McKay, Azurdeen Mohammed, Shiv Ragubar, Rhett Ramotar, Travis Rodney and Clain Williams.
Managers: Alfred Madray and Ajaz Asgarally.
The championship trophy can only be claimed for keeps by the team winning it three years in succession, according to organizer Telston Johnson. That may be an extended process as all three teams are expected to be very competitive in the coming years. It is more likely that the trophy will rotate among the three Guyanese county teams, for some time.
Next weekend, cricket enthusiasts in the New York metropolitan area and as far south as the nation of Guyana will witness a no-holds barred clash at Idlewild Park in Queens, New York.
[Telston Johnson picture courtesy of newyorkcricket.com]