The 2014 American College Cricket Hall of Fame Inductees has been announced by Shiv Chanderpaul and released in 2 Parts : Part 1 is the List of Players Inductees.
Part 2 are those non-college players who have contributed greatly to American College Cricket and/or the game’s progress in America and Canada.
At the time Josh Robinson got the assignment to write about a first time tournament called the “American College Cricket Spring Break Championship” in March 2009, he was covering major sports teams like the NY Giants & Jets, the NY Yankees & Mets etc for the New York Times.
As he wrote “the sport does not register a pulse in the United States.”. The tournament involved 5 newly minted ‘college teams’ who wore $ 3 white t- shirts with the American College Cricket logo on them.
The tournament was on a shoe-string budget but the passion & dream behind it was incalculable – Robinson saw through the surface. His article was not sugar-coated but an objective narrative that recognized and captured the essence of what took place those few rain-affected days in Florida – the beginning of an American college sports odyssey in true under dog fashion !
Robinson could have easily been blind to the possibilities but instead, wrote an article that was the “most shared” in the NY Times that week, and also in the Times’ international version, the International Herald Tribune, went worldwide – with Indian & Pakistani media picking up the story. Everyone involved, including American College Cricket founder Lloyd Jodah and National Champion Montgomery College’s Adil Bhatti, became known nationally in cricket circles and even outside.
As a direct result of the popularity of the article, the NY Times began to run regular international articles and its possible to read about Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni or the Ashes in the NY Times now, just like 125 years ago.
Nezam Hafiz captained the Guyana Under 19 team in 1988, vs a Trinidad & Tobago team captained by Brian Lara. He was a right-handed batsman and a medium pace bowler.He then scored 116 vs the Leeward Islands and the following season made his First Class debut, playing 6 matches before emigrating to America in 1992. It was difficult to keep a place in the strong Guyana side, and even harder to make a living playing cricket in the West Indies.
Upon leaving he donated much of his equipment to other players at his Malteenoes Cricket Club – an action he kept up over the years. Once in the US, he began playing in the Commonwealth Cricket League- the largest league in America, and excelled, helping his American Cricket Society club win the league title 7 times. He became the captain of his club team and CCL in NY’s inter-league tournament, which was vibrant at the time.
Nezam was then selected for a USA team that toured England and was one of the top players, scoring 267 runs,including three 50’s, at an average of 44.50 with a personal highest of 62. He subsequently became the vice-captain for a USA tour to Canada.
Like other Guyanese batsmen before such as Rohan Kanhai & Alvin Kallicharran,Nezam was renowned for his impeccable style, hair & clothing, on and off the field. His punctuality also made him stand out among his fellow cricketers. It was not surprising that Nezam was moving up in his work career as well, getting a job with Marsh & McLennan on the 94th floor of the World Trade Center – and that’s where he was, a bit early for work as usual, when the first plane hit Tower One at the 94th floor.
We honor Nezam Hafiz as the only USA player and the only First Class cricketer killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and from all accounts, a wonderful player and ‘nice guy‘. He was 32 years old.
“Nezam was a wonderful and kind person with a gentle spirit who always had a smile on his face. He was always happy when on the Cricket field and loved the game with all his heart. Off the Cricket field he was a diplomat of the game who represented the game and his culture” Winston Skerritt, a friend.
His name is one of the 2,983 names inscribed at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site, it can be found on Panel N-6 of the North Pool.
Jon was the video grapher assigned by the New York Times to cover the first American College Cricket Spring Break Championship, and make a video for the Times’ website. Armed with no knowledge of the game, Jon learned the essence of the event very quickly and together with Josh created a video that told the story of the first Championship, the desires of the participants and showcased the competitiveness of the teams imbued with their colleges’ spirit.
His voice over was imbued with feeling for this fledgling effort to get the game off the ground in the US and the finished video is a perfect time capsule to compare to the most recent Finals in March 16, broadcast on ESPN and TV Asia in High Definition. American College Cricket has grown fast in 5 years, and Jonathan and Joshua played major roles in its launch and in documenting the first baby steps. For the next 4 years Montgomery College became the most well-known cricket team in America or Canada.
Jonathan Vigliotti now works for the NBC affiliate in NYC, Channel 4.
A highly accomplished long time columnist for the New York Times, now retired, George Vecsey has written about myriad sports including the Olympics, Fifa World Cup,basketball, tennis ,football, boxing and his favorite, baseball.
He has authored, co-authored and been a contributor to a dozen books, including: “Baseball – A history of America’s favorite Game.” He has authored, co-authored and been a contributor to many other books including “Loretta Lynn: A Coal Miner’s Daughter” and this year published “Eight World Cups” about soccer.
Vecsey was a National & Religion reporter for the NY Times as well,and interviewed Tony Blair, the Dalai Lama and Billy Graham among other notables. He did his undergrad at Hofstra and later received a Honorary Doctorate from the University.
In 2011 Vecsey told American College Cricket President Lloyd Jodah he wanted to interview him for a piece about 2 upcoming events, the 2011 American College Cricket National Championship and the 2011 Cricket World Cup – Jodah brought some college cricketers from NYU Polytechnic with him, and the result was a wonderful juxtaposing of the 2 events.
Back in early 2009 Vecsey played a huge inning for American College Cricket, when Lloyd Jodah brought the news of the upcoming first “American College Cricket Spring Break Championship” to him, George saw the flicker of the dream, small as it was, and presented it to the appropriate editors where it became a story to cover.
6′ 8″ Mustafa Khan started playing cricket at the Justiceville Domes in Downtown Los Angeles, learning from Leo Magnus and David Sentance, and became part of the Los Angeles Krickets Homeless team that toured England in 1996. He later, with Mama Sheen,initiated the Sheenaway School Cricket program in Compton and Watts.
Until then Mustafa had played basketball all his life, and was invited to join the Harlem Clowns – the precursor of the Harlem Globetrotters and toured the United States and Canada. He also played professional basketball in the Philippines.Of his 7 children, 3 of them (coached by him) earned NCAA 1 basketball scholarships, as Mustafa became drawn to cricket as a game which he felt, with its ‘laws’, could ‘help in the chaos that often surrounded inner-city kids.The idea of having tea with opponents still makes Mustafa smile. He experienced this English custom first at Hambledon where organized cricket began, and has served the game unselfishly ever since.
Mustafa played a major role in getting the players and facilities in place for the Compton Momz and Popz predominantly Latino team drawn from from gang bangers, building on his experiences in England. Using his contact with Coach Gerald Pickens of Centennial High School he helped train the players.
With his friend David Sentance, Mustafa spent the past 18 years promoting and coaching cricket in Compton & Watts, wearing an American College Cricket hat for the past 3 years. His massive presence and immense local contacts, with the indispensable support of Mama Sheen, have provided a relatively secure environment for local kids, whilst they learn & play cricket.
Mustafa is moving to Arizona where he will help his son coach a Canadian of Indian descent player ,hopefully to NBA level. As a cricket coach, and an ambassador of American College Cricket in recent times, Mustafa’s service to the inner-city and bringing Americans to cricket is unsurpassed.
Born in Mississippi where he witnessed lynchings of black men as a child, the young Gerald Pickens moved to California in the 1960’s where he found baseball to be sport he excelled in & played until his 40’s . He began coaching in Compton in the 70’s, finally landing at Centennial High School, where he has coached for over 20 years. Its said that ‘every kid from South Central LA who made it to the big leagues owe some of their success to him, as he has given his whole life to keeping baseball alive in the community”
A hands-on coach, Gerald Pickens developed several Major League Baseball Players including Eric Davis and Daryll Strawberry, and sent many more to the Majors. However its hard to keep his players out of trouble, as many have family ties to local gangs. At a Compton City Council meeting on crime, Coach Pickens pointed out that while one his players was signed to a major-league contract, many others ended up in prison or worse.
For this reason, Coach Pickens helped Mustafa Khan recruit and train the first Momz and Popz team and wants to use cricket to improve batting range, and through American College Cricket, increase opportunities for playing outside Compton, hopefully keeping his players out of rapid downward spiral of gang activity. Coach feeds and trains his players on and off the field where he is a renowned barbeque cook.
Coach, with the help of Mustafa Khan & David Sentance, is currently providing cricket training for the Centennial High School Baseball team, hoping to get the team ready to play ‘friendly’ matches at the American College Cricket West Coast Regional. Last year a visiting over 60’s Australian team spent a day playing with, and coaching the boys.
Coach Pickens is a baseball institution in Compton and with American College Cricket is now reconnecting America’s original game cricket, with its successor, baseball.
Info for Coach Pickens and Mustafa Khan provided by historian David Sentance. Thanks to Wikpedia & myriad other sources.