America’s captivating cricket story – GulfToday-Selambe

Time to celebrate.

The United States cricket team in the ongoing International Cricket Council’s (ICC) T20 World Cup in the US and the Caribbean have proved to be the surprise of the tournament. Cricket is not as native to America as the country’s own version of the game, baseball. For over a century Americans showed no interest in cricket, and they became the fanatical followers of baseball, developing its mythology of batters and its obsessive statistics of runs scored. It would of course be too early to proclaim that cricket has arrived in America. The US cricket team which has caused followers of the game to sit up when the minions beat Pakistan, and gave a tough fight to India, the two seasoned cricketing nations from the subcontinent. The interesting story of this American cricket team is that the players are migrants from the cricket-playing countries of India, Pakistan, the Caribbean, and New Zealand. They all played cricket at the professional level in their respective home countries though they did not make it to the top on their home turf. They turned to America not to play cricket but to make a living. And then came the windfall of a chance when the US Cricket Association was admitted to the game’s fraternity. The outliers and in a way losers gathered in the team, and without intending to do so, they avenged their personal defeats in the new team in the new land. It can be called the classic American migrant story!
The team comprises Australian coach Stuart Law, players Corey Anderson from New Zealand, USA-born Aaron Jones who plays for Barbados, Florida-based Steven Taylor from Jamaica, Shadley van Schalkwyck from South Africa, Harmeet Singh from India, Shayan Jahangir from Pakistan, Monank Patel from India, Saurabh Netravalkar from India. Law says that these players did not shift to the US to play cricket.
They moved to America to fulfil their own lufe goals other the cricket, either for their own studies or that of their children. But when cricket happened, they took the plunge without looking back. Lay says that the challenge is to ‘Americanify’ the team’. It is sure to happen as the team persists and win laurels as they go along. They are also cricketers who know the game and who have played it in their home-countries. And they are bursting with confidence. Law recalls how Shayan walked up to him and said, “Coach, we can beat Pakistan.,” before the match and they did beat Pakistan. Netravalkar, says Law, is scientific in his approach. He plans every bit of the game, spends time at the nets, and goes out and plays the game according to the plan. Perhaps, the players are already showing the American spirit, playing hard to win, which is the American way. America has given them the opportunity to play, which might be an accidental development in itself, but their playing talent is no accident.
Coach Law believes in them, and the players believe in themselves and in the coach. Netravalkar is a principal engineer at Oracle, the tech company. And Law says that Netravalkar brings the cool engineer’s approach to the game.
The American cricket team will not have a good run, a promising run like the one they have experienced so far. They may have to go through the grind and lows of defeats before they emerge as one of the strong teams in the future. But they seem to have made a good start. What they need to do is to hang on there. And quite possibly America might attract cricket migrants, who would find an opportunity to make the grade as it were in the New World!

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