By Peter Simunovich
Ganesh Sanap, President of NCCA
The Bay Area in Northern California is the home of the San Francisco
Giants baseball and San Francisco 49ers football teams that have
produced Hall of Famers like quarterback Joe Montana and centerfielder
Willie Mays, both acknowledged as all-time greats.
It is also the home of the Northern California Cricket
Association. Established in 1892, it is one of the oldest and largest
cricket regions in the United States.
Right now the NCCA is celebrating the success of the North
West Region's Under 19 win in the recently completed national
NCCA president Ganesh Sanap proudly says that 13 of the 14-man
North West Region squad came from the NCCA, including three of the
players in the national Under 19 All American team. And it was the
second time in four years that the region had won the national title.
Owen Graham, Coach - NCCA
who has a long association with the four-division and 40-team league as
a player, volunteer, administrator and president, says the league's
focus "has always been on youth." The philosophy is that they move up
to a higher level and then pass on their knowledge, experience and tips
to the youngsters. It is the trickle down effect.
But Sanap, 39, a computer developer, does not take all the
backslapping from the success of the junior program in the NCCA. He is
quick to talk about coach Owen Graham. "He has the Midas touch," said
Sanap. "When he played with the Caribbean Cricket Club in the NCCA he
had the most wins as a captain and player. No teams wanted to play
"Owen led the San Francisco Freedom in the professional league
in 2004 and led it to the national championship. He has a very good
Graham, 42, played in semi pro and All Island leagues in the
West Indies as an opening batsman, has a high profile as a coach in the
NCCA, but he praised the administration. "I realize that it gets it
right," he said.
Saad Khan, 19, a No. 4 bat and right arm off spinner, told
DreamCricket.com: "People and coaches put in a lot of effort and work
hard in the NCCA. Ganesh is recruiting players. Owen knows the game,
man. He knows a lot about cricket.
"He's a good guy, has a positive attitude, and works hard with
everyone and gives us confidence. He is available 24/7 and he will
answer any questions."
Saad Khan, NCCA U-19 player
said: "Owen is always talking to players on the 'phone. We are trying
to develop a cricketing brain and keep the Under 19 players together.
The idea is unity and continuity. The players now play in A Division.
It gives them experience and helps out teams when they might be short
Sanap, who moved to the US from Mumbai, India, says the
biggest reason for the youth program is that they players are "like a
band of brothers. They are at each other's home, play as a team, are
united and you will not find too many individuals in the team."
Graham admits: "There is something about me that goes well
with the kids. They have a willingness to learn and I have a love and
passion for the game."
He grew up during the West Indies golden era where he watched
stars like Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner and Andy Roberts
play and he competed against the likes of Jeffrey Dujon, Jimmy Adams
and Courtney Walsh. And to round this off he was coached by top Test
batsman Rohan Kanhai.
Graham tries to teach his players how to understand the game,
be relaxed and poised and to work hard on and off the field.
"Discipline is very important," he says. "Practice hard and do what you
Asked about his successful coaching methods, he said: "I don't
look at it as a moral obligation. I enjoy the teaching and I hope to
create a little legacy. I try to connect with the players, be like a
father figure. I encourage them to play positive and aggressive
cricket. They have good minds."
Saad, who is studying sociology, said his batting and fielding
had improved under Graham's coaching. "He gives me more confidence. He
says not to be afraid of the ball, be confident, be yourself and play
your natural game."
Sarabjit Chadha - NCCA Volunteer
added that Graham encouraged his players to be disciplined, "play by
the rules, be who you are and don't bring anyone or another team down."
One of the unsung heroes in the success of the NCCA is
Sarabjit Chadha, 40, who helped found the East Bay Cricket Club and
still plays as an all-rounder. He said: "All the kids who play in the
Under 19s in the NCCA should be thankful for Ganesh and Owen.
"The NCCA is Ganesh's baby. He works very hard and the kids
get good coaching from Owen. I have watched him coach and he is pretty
A behind the scenes man, Chadha helps in organizing matches,
looks after and develops players and fields, has a thankless job. But
he loves the game and enjoys watching it continually grow.
It is all part of the success of the NCCA.