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By Nitin Deo
It was Saturday, June 14th, 2003. Summer holidays had just begun for middle schools around Cupertino and San Jose. Also, 2003 World Cup was just over. That was the first year when the games could be watched on TV – even though the games started at 4 am, families and friends all around would gather at someone’s place and watch the games.
Anyway, on that Saturday, June 14th, a bunch of fathers with their 10 or 12-year old sons gathered that afternoon on a ground near Cupertino Library and played a game of cricket. Some of the kids could not hold the bat straight while some of the dads were playing after many years. There were still many wickets, many catches, many boundaries – of course along with many wide-balls, dropped catches and run-outs.
Right after that friendly game, a few of us gathered at the residence of Hemant and Kinjal Buch – and that was the first day of California Cricket Academy (CCA).
Fast forward 10 years. This past Saturday, June 15th – at Dilworth Elementary School in Cupertino, there were two games played for ‘CCA Golden Era Cup’. First one was between Under-15 team of CCA Emerging Champions and their dads. The second was between CCA Alumni (pictured right) and CCA's reigning Champions. Over 120 people watched, played, ate, cheered and enjoyed a full day of Cricket.
California Cricket Academy has provided comprehensive cricket coaching in multiple cities in Northern California since July 2003. The Academy has state of the art equipment and facilities like world class bowling machine, Incrediballs, Kanga kits, 4 batting cages with different types of wickets and two match grounds with center pitches.
Ajit Tendulkar, a well known cricket coach from Mumbai, India has made annual visits to coach the youth. The Academy's other coaches are professionally trained and impart high quality coaching to students. Over the past 10 years, the Academy has trained over 500 young players from ages of 8 to 17.
During the first decade of CCA, thanks to the relentless commitment and dedication of Hemant and Kinjal Buch – with support from Helen Grays of Keypoint Credit union, Zain Jeewanji of G1G insurance, Ram Varadrajan, Prem Suri, Mahesh Nihalani, Owen Graham, Jagan Jaganathan, Nitin Deo, Vijay and Priya Pradhan, Sundari Suresh and many others – the Academy made impressive strides.
Three CCA students were selected for USA U-15 team in 2007, five in 2009 and six in 2011. The present USA U-19 squad features three CCA youth. CCA has hosted invitational tournaments featuring teams from across the country starting 2005 for 8 years straight. The CCA Youth Team won the Super-25 league championship three times since it began participating in that tournament. In addition, CCA has taken U-15 teams to Baroda, Ahmedabad and Mumbai in India. Tours were also organized to England, Canada and West Indies.
At the national level, CCA has played a significant role - Vijay Pradhan of CCA was USACA’s Youth Coordinator, Ajay Athavale served as USACA's regional Director, Hemant Buch has been Chairman of the USACA Western Region and chairman of the USACA Youth Committee and Prem Suri has been the coach of USA U-15 and U-17 squads.
Last Saturday's event is the first in a series of celebrations to mark CCA’s 10th Anniversary. This will be followed by a Corporate Tournament in August, Gala Dinner Event with a Special Guest in August, a Garbaa Event in November and an Award Night in December.
In the Dads versus Emerging Champins match, Dads batted first and posted 91 all out in 20 overs. Extras was the highest scorer. In the chase, Vibhav Altekar single-handedly demolished the bowling attack with 3 sixes, 5 fours bringing the Emerging Champions to 89 for 8 with 2 runs needed in the last over. Those runs were scored easily and the Dads were defeated.
In the match between CCA Alumni and CCA Champions, the Alumni put up 158 in 25 overs. Playing for the Champions, Vibhav Altekar once again came in and started pummeling every ball to the boundary line. The Alumni made a comeback but could not prevent the Champions from neeeding just one run in the last ball to win. That last ball was a perfect length ball when the batsman swung and missed as the ball went straight in keeper’s gloves. The Alumni started celebrating pre-maturely, while the smart Champions took the chance and ran the last run and made it.
The scene after this was the one to remember for another decade – the Champions came to the field and instead of shaking hands they gave a hug to each of the Alumni team members. This is the camaraderie and family that CCA has fostered.