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CC Morris Cricket Library Association held its AGM on March 11, 2012. The event was held at the lecture hall adjoining the US Cricket Museum at Haverford College.
Jamie Harrison receives the Dr. Comfort Award from Paul Hensley, President of CC Morris Library.
Paul Hensley, President of CC Morris welcomed the gathering. In his opening remarks, Mr. Hensley noted that year marks the 20th anniversary of the Philadelphia Cricket Festival and also the 40th anniversary of Kamran Khan's service to Haverford College as coach of the college's cricket team.
The CC Morris Cricket Library and Cricket Museum houses the largest collection of cricket literature and memorabilia in the Western hemisphere.
The organization is supported by Haverford College through funds endowed by C Christopher Morris. Mr. Morris had a varied career as a cricketer in the late 19th and early 20th century representing Friends' Select School, Haverford College, Merion Cricket Club, Pilgrims, Gentlemen of Philadelphia and the United States. Mr. Morris' grand nephew, Mr. HH Morris was in attendance at the AGM.
Members of CC Morris Library Association listen to Paul Hensley's opening remarks.
The organizers also recognized Jamie Harrison of USYCA by presenting him with the Dr. Howard Comfort Award. Dr. Comfort played a key role in the establishment of the Library Association, and was a lifelong player and supporter of cricket in the United States, spending four years with the Haverford College XI as an undergraduate from 1921 to 1924, including a tour to Canada in 1923 and to England in 1925. Dr. Comfort served as coach of the Haverford College team for nearly three decades and was regarded with great affection and respect by a large number of Haverford cricketers.
Jamie, whose work with promoting cricket in USA's schools has won him international acclaim, follows a long list of luminaries who have received this award including J. Alfred Reeves (1992) and Albert Broadhurst (1996).
In his thank you speech, Mr. Harrison said: "I am deeply moved by the presentation of this prestigious award, which I share with all those who have joined with me in the USYCA movement. The C.C. Morris Cricket Library Association has supported USYCA from its inception. Without the faith and generosity of the Association, youth cricket would be in a far less advantageous position today."
In his speech, Venu Palaparthi urged CC Morris' membership to serve as the conscience and the heart of USA cricket.
Venu Palaparthi, co-founder of DreamCricket.com was the guest speaker at the AGM. In his speech, Mr. Palaparthi spoke of the role played by Philadelphia in keeping cricket alive in the U.S. through its darkest period.
Mr. Palaparthi reviewed the historic milestones that Philadelphia was witness to. He recognized Alfred Reeves in particular for his many contributions to the gentleman's sport of cricket, opening his speech with the same slide that he used during his presentation at the ICC Centenary. The slide contained Alfred Reeves' now famous quote: "The game of cricket was in the States before we were States."
Speaking about the issues facing USA cricket today, Mr. Palaparthi challenged CC Morris' membership to speak up, get involved, and serve as the conscience of USA cricket community. Owing to its highly respected leadership and its proximity to the well-groomed and historic cricket venues of Philadelphia, Merion and Haverford, the organization was best positioned to recapture the allure of cricket's splendid past. These are the very attributes that led to the Baseball Hall of Fame and Lord's to partner with CC Morris for their "Swinging Away - How Cricket and Baseball Connect" exhibit in Cooperstown, NY. "CC Morris should build on that inspiring track record and continue to set an example for others to follow," Mr. Palaparthi said. Taking the Philadelphia International Cricket Festival as an example, Mr. Palaparthi said that the festival could invite two full-strength teams for a marquis fixture each year that could easily become the bellwether event on the East Coast.
Speaking about the need for a more robust cricketing eco-system, Mr. Palaparthi said that cricket had to not only emulate soccer but outdo it in order to make up for lost time. But to do so, it needed to nurture a representative democracy, transparent governance, and elect administrators who possess rigor and energy.
In closing, Mr. Palaparthi said that DreamCricket would donate its collection of books that it had bought in an auction from the KA Auty Cricket Library at Canada's Ridley College. He also announced that DreamCricket was going to become a life member of CC Morris.
Dr. Vikram Dravid, a CC Morris member and a Philadelphia area radiologist, donated copies of his recently published book "Not Just Cricket" to CC Morris. Dr. Dravid said that the job of a radiologist involved hours spent in a dark room. His stories allowed him to think beyond the confines of those boundaries. Speaking about his novel, he said that it weaves riveting cricket games with the realities of life.
In attendance at the event was 97-year old Tom Ambler who provided an interesting historical perspective drawing on his 85-year involvement with the sport in Philadelphia.
Mr. Ambler said that the automobile played a major role in ending cricket's dominance in the region. He said that as automobiles became more accessible in the early 1920-1940 time period, many cricketers, who were also somewhat affluent, preferred to spend their weekends with their families by going on long drives in their brand new cars. That meant that they had less time to spare for the day-long demands of cricket.
Mr. Ambler said that this particular phenomenon coincided with the spectacular rise of tennis and golf. As fewer people were available to play cricket, tennis grew in popularity because it needed just two to four people to commit a couple of hours, he said.