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[Source: USYCA and Cricket Hall of Fame Media Releases]
On October 6, USYCA President Jamie Harrison (pictured right) was inducted into the Cricket Hall of Fame in Hartford, Connecticut. The induction ceremony was held at the Grand Ballroom of the Hartford Hilton hotel.
Also inducted were West Indies Test players Basil Butcher and Joe Solomon; former USACA Executive Secretary John Aaron; Samuel Belnavis, president of the Metropolitan League; Dale Holness, Joseph Buffong and Mohamed 'Mo' Ally. Andrew 'Buster' Headley received the Golden Age Award and Laurel Scott, the Presidential Award.
Several hundred were in attendance for the event, including a number of elected officials and local dignitaries. Proclaimations from the governor of Connecticut and the mayor of Hartford were given to each inductee, who afterward spoke to those assembled.
In his address, Harrison spoke about the way forward for cricket in the United States, and the role USYCA is fulfilling in making America a cricket-playing nation. He began by hitting head-on the notion that American children will not accept cricket as their game:
"How often have we been told that Americans do not understand cricket, Americans will not understand cricket," said Harrison. "That American children have enough games - American games. And yet, the United States Youth Cricket Association's programs have been responsible for hundreds of thousands of American kids being introduced to cricket and falling in love with the game.
"The problem isn't cricket. Cricket in its essence, cricket in its purest form, hitting the ball with the bat, running back and forth between the wickets, that is pure joy."
Harrison closed by telling the audience that the power to change the future lay with them, and that volunteers, regardless of background or expertise, could rapidly advance the day when cricket would be considered once again to be an American game.
About this year's inductees (taken from the Cricket Hall of Fame news release written by Stan Walker):
Basil Butcher: Born in Port Mourant, Guyana, Butcher who developed his talents in the game at the community center’s field in the village, became a very prolific batsman that led to him being invited to national trials. He made his debut for Guyana in 1955 and his consistent performances led him to being invited to West Indies trials in 1957. He was an integral part of the formidable West Indies batting line-up in the 60s.
Joe Solomon: Also a Guyanese cricketer who comes out of the same club as Butcher, represented the West Indies in 27 tests, starting in 1958 against India. He played a big role in the result of the first tied test in history between the West Indies and Australia when he ran out Ian Meckiff with a direct throw at the stumps. During his test career he aggregated 1,326 runs at an average of 34.00.
John Aaron: The former Executive Secretary of the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA), John Aaron considers himself a “servant of cricket.” Aaron, who is from Guyana, is viewed by many as being extremely pivotal in the reconciliation efforts within USA cricket, following two suspensions by the International Cricket Council (ICC), based on poor governance of the sport in the U.S. Many have described his views and actions as one of the most positive turning points for U.S. cricket in the past decade.
Jamie Harrison: Jamie Harrison is the president of the United States Youth Cricket Association (USYCA). As a history teacher in Baltimore, Harrison was introduced to the game, while on a field trip with some of his students in Virginia. The game was demonstrated as a historic artifact while they were visiting a Civil War site. They fell in love with the game and upon returning to the school he was asked to launch a cricket club. He learned the game like his students did and became their first cricket coach before eventually founding USYCA.
Samuel Belnavis: Samuel Belvanis developed his love for the game in his hometown in Jamaica and has been involved in almost every aspect of the game since his arrival in the U.S. in the fall of 1971. A founding member of the Villagers Cricket Club in New York, he has served as the director of the popular Red Stripe Cricket Competition (2000-03), the premier cricket tournament in the U.S. at the time, as president of the 124-year-old New York Metropolitan Cricket League, a leader of the USACA Council of League Presidents, and coach of the New York Women’s Cricket team.
Mo Ally: A life-long cricket aficionado with domestic and international playing experience, Ally is the publisher of a lifestyle magazine for cricket fans, the American Cricketer. He started the first cricket teams in Minnesota and Miami and was responsible for getting the fields (Brian Piccolo Park) in which the league games were held. He was also instrumental in getting land in Gastonia, North Carolina, to build a cricket ground and hosted the first international team from South Africa.
Dale Holness: An avid cricket fan and former player, Holness who served as Commissioner and Vice Mayor for Lauderhill in Florida, played a big role in the building of a Cricket Stadium in the County, which is the only stadium in the U.S. that is certified and sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Joseph Buffong: From Montserrat, Buffong has served as president for the Massachusetts State Cricket League (MSCL) four separate times. He has also been a regional representative for the northeast U.S. and the MSCL, a number of years. Over his career, he has contributed to the sport in the Boston area and has held multiple cricket affiliated positions such as president, vice-president, Public Relations representative and manager.
Andrew Headley: After many years of service to the New York Cricket League (NYCL), while being a member of the Montserrat Cricket Club, Headley was very instrumental in the forming of the Wembley Athletic Club, which was one of the greatest promoters of the game in the city. He still remains very active in the club which is now in its 57th year. He is respected for his history of dedication in the NYCL, the club and cricket in general. Headley who was born in Boston grew up in Jamaica.