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By John L. Aaron
“I was impressed with the number of participants and the enthusiasm for cricket displayed by all at the clinic. It was just awesome to be in the presence of Michael Holding and Alvin Kallicharran.” - Sham Chotoo, Cricket Commissioner, Bowie Boys and Girls Club, Maryland.
Thus was the tone of a beautiful Fall day in Maryland, as legendary Test cricketers Michael Holding and Alvin Kallicharran shared their expertise and experience with twenty-five cricketers and coaches, at an American Cricket Federation (ACF) and Washington Metro Cricket Board (WMCB) one-day cricket clinic, conducted at the spacious Capital Sports Complex in Glendale, Maryland on November 16. The clinic was sponsored in part by Zee Sports International, Inc. of Manassas, VA
With only a break for lunch, the participants were eager to get back to the task at hand; soaking up as much knowledge as they could from the two former Test greats. According to Sham Chotoo, “I thought the Holding/Kallicharran clinic was a great idea that was well executed… Michael Holding is one of my all-time favorite bowlers. It was a pleasure for me to talk to these two great players…and the subtle pointers I received from both Holding and Kallicharran during the clinic were very useful to me. I plan to work on those improvements in the nets over the next few months.”
The participants were divided into two groups, one each with the two very successful West Indian cricketers, with each group participating in batting and bowling techniques under the watchful eyes of Holding and Kallicharran. Among the group of participants were two females – Catherine Joy Jones and Samantha Ramataur, from Atlantis Cricket Club – NY, who along with fellow club member and Atlantis’ 2013 MVP Alex Amsterdam journeyed from New York to attend the one-day clinic.
Catherine Joy Jones, a former Grenada national women’s cricketer and an ICC Level 1 coach, was enthusiastic about her participation in the clinic, saying, “I would like to thank my club Atlantis for giving me this great opportunity to be in the presence of two of the greatest cricketers in the world - Michael Holding and Alvin Kallicharran.” Jones who was capped five time for the USA and once for the ICC Americas Women’s XI, added, “It was an honor learning from the best, as they did not propose drastic changes to my original batting and bowling techniques, but made minor corrections that would make me a better cricketer.”
Commenting at the conclusion of the clinic, Alvin Kallicharran said, “I hope to continue working alongside the American Cricket Federation and to help with what you chaps are hoping to accomplish.” Adding, “What you (ACF) are trying to do, I think you can’t go wrong. You can’t have better role models than people like Michael Holding. I am happy to lend myself to what’s happening...in America, and I hope to work alongside you chaps (ACF) and what you are trying to achieve.”
The other legendary West Indies Test player known as “Whispering Death”; Michael Holding, commenting on the inclusion of some of the younger players at the clinic, said, “We are hoping to help kids who are interested in the game to have a pathway to get to be as good as they can possibly get.”
The two former Test greats spent the entire eight hours, including lunch talking cricket with the players, observing their approaches to batting and bowling and offering technical advice, in addition to drawing parallels from their own experience traveling throughout the cricketing world. Between the “lunch and tea” intervals, Holding, who played 60 Tests for the West Indies between 1975 and 1987, capturing 249 Test wickets along the way, and Kallicharran held a “fire-side” chat, where they responded to scores of questions posed by the participants, while discussing some of the more mental aspects of the sport of cricket. Kallicharran, who played 66 Test matches for the West Indies between 1972 and 1981 scoring 4,399 Test runs, focused on players getting into a rhythm and some of the basics of the sport becoming second nature to a batsman or bowler. Holding, one of the four most feared West Indian fast bowlers ever to play Test cricket, and Kallicharran, a left-handed batsman and right-arm off-break bowler, appeared to enjoy the rhythmic joint sessions, almost finishing each other’s sentences, while trading “war stories” from their Test-playing days. At the end of the “days play” the two cricketing sons of the Caribbean graciously signed autographs and posed for pictures with the exclusive group of participants.
It was time well spent, as many participants acknowledged that the event was a fantastic one, and remarked on the ease with which the two stars interacted with the group of participating cricketers.
WMCB’s Avinash Varma remarked, “WMCB was pleased to team up with the ACF in presenting the clinic to the limited reservation group of participants, where everyone got an opportunity to spend quality time with both Holding and Kallicharran,” adding, “I thoroughly enjoyed both sessions and I look forward to the next clinic to be held under the banner of the ACF.”
ACF’s CEO Jamie Harrison, addressing the participants just before the start of the clinic, thanked Holding and Kallicharran for making themselves available, and also thanked Avinash Varma and the Washington Metropolitan Cricket Board for being such gracious hosts. Harrison also thanked the participants for their willingness to invest in their game, and to spend a Saturday working to make themselves better players.
ACF is planning on partnering with its other member leagues, in hosting similar one-day sessions.