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By Sam Sooppersaud
The Public Schools Athletic League is forging ahead with the 2014 edition of its High School Cricket Program, now in its sixth year. This year there are six divisions, unlike past years when there were five.
Each of the six divisions has five teams (schools). The schools in The Bronx and Manhattan are grouped together. With respect to Brooklyn and Queens, it is evident, to those who are familiar with the program from its beginning, that the divisions are constituted according to the playing strength/ record of the schools.
Right now the tournament is in its second month, having started in April. However, weather and other considerations have necessitated numerous postponements. These games are being rescheduled, as grounds are made available. The administrators at PSAL are very keen on all games being played.
Now several schools show signs of making a run for the championship. Leading in the standings are Thomas Edison, 6-1 and DeWitt Clinton, 5-0 (Bronx-Manhattan); Franklin Lane, 5-0, (Brooklyn ll); Brooklyn International, 5-1 (Brooklyn l); John Adams, 6-0 (Queens l); Aviation, 6-0 (Queens ll), and Newtown, 5-2, (Queens lll).
Image - File Photo: LIC celebrates on the pitch after winning the 2012 title. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
Several other schools showed early sign of “making run for it”, but have faltered. One such school is Newcomers. They won their first three games comfortably, bowling out their opponents for low scores and attaining the required totals while losing only a few wickets in the process. After their three straight wins they have lost four games in a row.
What has caused this sudden change in the fortunes of the Newcomers Lions? The coach (this writer) has attributed their losing streak to “inability to execute”. To be more specific, the inability of the fielders to hold on to catches.
It is a well-known fact that “catches win games”. In the four games that Newcomers lost their fielders dropped no fewer than twenty-two catches. Some of these were put down at crucial times (not that all catches are not crucial). It appeared that whenever Newcomers are about to seize the advantage in a game, they self-destruct, drop a catch. Their batsmen and bowlers are doing their job. The fielders are “throwing it away”.
In the first two editions of PSAL cricket the Championship was won by Newcomers. On both occasions they defeated John Adams. However, this time around it is evident that they would claim the trophy. At least, by their words, and play, they have “placed” a claim on the trophy. They are playing some exciting cricket. They are scoring heavily. In five games so far they have scored 800 runs. Their bowlers and fielders are complimenting the batsmen with some very tight bowling good fieldwork. A winning combination in any cricket game.
The onslaught on opposing bowlers is led by Derrick Narine, a former Guyana National Under 19 player. (As recently as this year). So far he has scored close to 400 runs. Opponents and fans alike are entertained whenever he is at the crease.
Sometime ago I spoke to Coach Navarette from John Adams. He has high praise for his players who dedicated themselves to winning (the championship) this year. He pointed out that Newcomers denied them on two occasions, but this time around “we will win”. Coach, you have good reasons to assure yourself of winning. Your players.
In the Bronx-Manhattan division Thomas Edison have a record of 6-0. In spite of this 100% winning record there is no way they could win the championship.
The reason being that they are grouped with schools that are considered weak when compared with the other contenders. The same could be said of Aviation. In the past they have shown some fighting spirit, but this alone would not take them through.
Let us take a look at Brooklyn International. They have a 5-1 record. I have seen them in action on the cricket field. I feel they have the talent that can take them all the way to the top. A miracle, if John Adams falters!
The season continues. Cricket fans, I invite you to come out and watch a few games, even all the games. You would be very entertained by the youngsters.