There I was, sitting in my cubicle, reading a book on control theory, the theorems intermittently interrupted by Facebook visits, when I received an email about a cricket match in California. Historians say that the first cricket match was played between Canada and the United States. Though that is a fact only historians may care for, never would I have imagined getting a chance to play the game in the land of double cheeseburgers and a very ugly version of football.
My only experience playing the game previously had been in the streets of Mumbai, so this new invitation presented a multifaceted opportunity. On one end, it gave me the chance to spend my Sunday away from the mundane house cleaning chores and, on the other, it offered me the chance to play meaningful leather-ball cricket for the first time in my life.
That apart, the name Cougars sounded slick and impressive. Also, after interacting with the captain, Samuel Dey, and other team members, what came to the fore was the time for some fun was NOW!
Being part of a team that has the look of Real Madrid’s Los Galacticos, if not in terms of talent, at least in terms of global appeal, has been the best experience. This team, comprising of Jamaicans, Antiguans, Grenadians, Guyanese, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, and Indian players, should ideally be used for campaigning for global and cultural integration.
Led by the calm and composed Dey, a.k.a. Doc, a psychiatrist by trade, we always know whom to turn to in times of adversity. Behind Cjourtney Smiley’s aviator sunglasses, lie eyes with a steely resolve to work for the team. The poise and composure of the classy southpaw, Vijay Nagarajan, is a sight to behold. The amazingly infectious enthusiasm displayed by Horace Crogman is inspirational. Kenneth “Killa” Bennett’s fast, arrow like deliveries and powerful drives can wreck the opposition’s nerves in a jiffy. This apart, the wonderful “behind the scenes” work done by the team’s workhorse, Vinod Baithini, acts nothing short of a motivational boost to do better.
Coming from a country where cricket is to us what soccer is to a Brazilian, a weekend recreation was bound to turn into more than just that. Back in India, the game is a quasi-religion and the fact that it turned into a passion for me was inevitable. The Gentleman’s Game, as it is fondly referred to, we, the Cougars Cricket Club, try to adhere to the spirit of the game to the best of our abilities. I, speaking on behalf of the rest of the team, sincerely hope that this sojourn continues and becomes bigger, better, and stronger.—Akshay Morye
Leading a Diverse Team
The Cougars Cricket Club, of which I am a member, celebrated its first anniversary this summer. The club is currently in the middle of its inaugural season as a member of the Southern California Cricket Association (SCCA). Based in the Inland Empire, the Cougars Club competes in the Fifth Division of the SCCA, and is currently holding a respectable sixth in a field of 10 teams.
I was a member of the original group that conceived the idea of forming the club in the spring 2008. The goal was to enable expatriates and students in the Riverside/San Bernardino metro area to come together and share their enjoyment of cricket. I was involved in the organizational process, and it was hard, especially since cricket is a largely unknown sport in the United States. I found that the most difficult part was finding a suitable field on which to play—there are many fields, the bulk of which are used for soccer. I was eventually able to find a field at a school in Highland, close to the homes of several of our members.
I have enjoyed playing with the club and getting to know my teammates. Surprisingly, more than 20 persons indicated an interest and of those 15 or so play on a regular basis. I have particularly liked the fact that the team members come from all over the world, including India, Jamaica, Pakistan, Grenada, Sri Lanka, and Guyana. Our cultural differences have not hindered our ability to form a competitive unit in a short period of time.
This first season has been especially gratifying for me. Given the challenges of organizing the team to play in the SCCA, I think that we were not expecting to do that well. For the most part, the games have been very close and very exciting. I’ve been lucky to see outstanding performances, including the first individual score of 100 by a team member, by our players with the bat, the ball, and in the field.
I’m looking forward to playing with the Cougars in the upcoming Winter League, then in the 2010 SCCA season.—Samuel Dey
Akshay Morye is a right-handed batsman and right-arm swing bowler for the Cougars Cricket Club.
Samuel Dey is captain of the Cougars Cricket Club.
The team will have matches on Oct. 4, 11, and 18 in Highland and Long Beach. http://cougarscc.teamopolis.com.