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USA WINS UNDER-13 Series in Bay Area


As most cricket historians know, the United States vs. Canada match of 1844 at Bloomingdale Park in New York was the first international cricket match played anywhere in the world.

And now, North America has established yet another "first" in cricket. The first-ever international cricket series between Under-13 teams was held in the Bay Area of the USA, between the United States U-13s, and a Canadian team from British Columbia, in Canada.

This was no "cricket jamboree", where a bunch of youngsters are introduced to hit-and-run quasi-cricket with little science to back the highjinks up. It was, instead, a real ODI cricket series: 25 6-ball overs per innings, with two teams playing three consecutive matches over several days to determine an eventual champion. The presence of Don Oslear, world-famous English umpire and author of many books on umpiring, underlined the seriousness of the occasion; this was to be a classic contest, with the highest possible standards being applied.

Although it was an international match-up, the teams were not really "equal". The USA team was selected from a number of youth programs from across the country, and could therefore be deemed a truly national side; the Canadian youngsters, on the other hand, were drawn from a single Canadian province, British Columbia. Even so, there was no lack of spirit on either side: and Maple leaves, Stars and Stripes were all mingled in the banners carried by the spectators.

The first match of the series saw the British Columbia youngsters decisively defeated by the USA Under 13s. BC were able to score only 43 runs in 21 overs, with K. Ragoonath the only Canadian batsman to reach double figures. For the USA, Z. Jansen (shown bowling in the photograph, courtesy of the Marin Independent Journal) and R. Olsen took 3 wickets apiece. The USA was able to match the Canadian total without loss, with Z. Jansen and USA captain Gulham Kehar managing to make 44 runs in 16 overs for a ten-wicket victory.

The fortunes were reversed in the second match. The Canadians, batting first, managed 52 for 9 in their allotted 25 overs, helped along by erratic bowling by USA which conceded 24 extras--nearly half the Canadian total. Reshuffling its batting order with less than satisfactory results, the USA was dismissed for 49 in 21 overs, with Tompkins of BC scoring the most runs as well as taking the top USA wickets. Shea Hasell was carried off the field by his team mates when he held the catch to dismiss the last batsman, thereby sealing the win.

The third and deciding match for the Challenger Trophy produced the best batting of the series. The USA youngsters, batting first, scored 92 for 6, with several 4s and 6's sprinkled over the scorecard. In reply, the Canadians put up 74 for 6, also their best batting performance of the series. The Canadian effort, however, fell short by 18 runs, giving the victory--and the Challenger Trophy--to the United States.

In the 3-match series as a whole, the most consistent performance came from Keenan Fish for the USA. Bowling 14 overs, he took 10 wickets for only 30 runs--an average of 3 runs/wicket, and an economy rate of 2.1 runs/over! For BC/Canada, Dane Hasell had 4 wickets for 12 runs in five overs and two maidens. There were no such consistent performances in batting; however, there were several standout performances by individual youngsters who rose to the occasion as needed, notably by Jansen and Kelhar (USA) and Ragoonath and Tompkins (BC/Canada), in the first and second matches of the series, with James Twiddy batting well for 15 runs in the final game. [Sobers Presents]

In a fitting finale, the Challenger Trophy and associated honors were presented at a banquet by Sir Garfield Sobers, who opened the proceedings for the 3-match series and witnessed the Under-13 matches (see picture, left).

And so ended what was surely the first, and hopefully not the last, international cricket series featuring youngsters under-13 to be played anywhere in the world. Indeed, Don Oslear, who umpired in two of the matches, professed to be very impressed by the calibre of cricket he saw over the weekend--in his opinion, some of the top players on either side would compare with the best Under-13s anywhere in the world, in any country.

When the next Challenger Trophy series is played in 2001, one can hope that the Canadians will also be able to field an equally representative team as the USA, so that the gallant efforts on the part of the BC kids to keep the Canadian flag flying in the Bay Area shall not go unrecognized--or unrewarded.

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Date-stamped : 6 Sept 2000 - 09:10