Preparing for the 2009 Cricket Season: USACA schedules AGM & USACUA holds seminars

The following is an article on www.newyorkcricket.com written by Sam Sooppersaud:

Preparing For The 2009 Cricket Season
USACA Schedules AGM – USACUA Holds Seminars

By Sam Sooppersaud

The 2008 cricket season has long passed, but the way cricket lovers are bustling around, you would think that the season is still being played. Players, officials of clubs and cricket leagues are recriminating about the “woulda, coulda, shoulda”. They are reliving mishaps made by their players that may have resulted in their team ending on the short side of victory. Some are thinking about the dropped catch when the new batsman was on 2 and who ended up scoring a century; should the captain have bowled Harry instead of John in that last over when the batting side needed 11 runs more for victory? If that umpire had not made that blunder in making the wrong call at that crucial juncture of the match, “we would have won”. One hears all sorts of excuses and innuendoes as to “why my team did not win the championship”…. All this chattering helps to up the hype for the eagerly awaited coming season and makes for interesting conversations.

Wait a minute; the 2008 cricket season is over. We are now in January of 2009, and the winter is in full blast. Why so much talk about cricket and the hustling and bustling around? Shouldn’t we be more concerned about the cost of heating fuel or those drafty windows that eat up our hard earned dollars? But no, the adrenalin has already begun to flow with just the thought of cricket impinging on the cricket lovers’ minds. The reason for this, I would surmise, is that live cricket in the New York area is figuratively just around the corner, three short months away. As early as April many clubs will be playing friendly games. The more dedicated players will have commenced their dieting and exercising regiment. Maybe a few players have a cricket ball in a sock and hanging in their basements and they are batting away.

The various leagues in the New York Metropolitan areas that were contacted have had their Annual General Meetings (AGMs) or very soon will do so, They have elected, or will elect new officers and I am quite sure, revisit and discuss last season to see where improvements may be made. In fact all the clubs may be doing just that at this time and maybe adding or deleting players from their rosters. I know my good friend, Peter Jolly, has already done so with the boys from his club, West Indian Alliance. They met at Peter and Maggie’s home on January 11 to celebrate his birthday and Peter seized that opportunity to get in some “club talk”. Also, the United States of America Cricket Association (USACA) plans to call its AGM on Saturday, January 24, at the JFK Ramada Plaza starting at 10:00 A.M. Preparations are being made all around.

Not to be left out, the United States of America Cricket Umpires Association (USACUA) has been making its own preparation for the 2009 season. The organization started a fourteen week umpiring seminar on January 11th. It is being conducted at 1012 Ralph Avenue in Brooklyn. Over 25 umpires and aspiring umpires showed up each of the two weeks that the program has been held so far, to listen to umpire/ trainer, Mr. Mohamed Baksh, an elite umpire in his own right. He has officiated in cricket matches for over three decades. According to him he has officiated in all classes of matches, from Test match to the regular weekend friendly games. The attendees are very enthusiastic participants, ready to ask questions and seek clarifications on the things they are not too clear about.

This writer being himself an umpire while still playing league games, attended the last Sunday’s session, and must confess that I was very much impressed with the quality of Mr. Baksh’s presentation and his broad knowledge of the laws of the game. As a player, one may feel that he knows the cricket laws sufficiently enough to allow himself to enjoy playing his cricket. However, attending the seminar would immediately make him realize that his knowledge is basically from the point of view of a player. There is so much more that a player needs to learn about the laws of cricket. It is recommended that players attend these seminars as it could only add tremendously to their play and enjoyment of the game.

Many who have been following cricket over the past four decades in the area have expressed great satisfaction with the tremendous increase in the standard of umpiring. The USACUA has certainly done its part in this accomplishment and must take some credit for this improvement. It continues to serve cricket, cricketers, umpires, and of course, in doing so is doing justice to the cricket watching public. Nowadays spectators at cricket games are assured that the result of the match will not be hinged on a wrong decision by an umpire but by the skills of the players.

Over the years one misunderstanding that has repeatedly surfaced at the cricket game is over the use of a substitute. When should he be allowed on, and who is to decide on whether a substitute is allowed or not. Captains have questioned umpires as to why the fielding side was allowed a substitute. There have been questions as to whether a substitute should be allowed to take the field at the start of a game for a player who has been declared in the eleven, but has not yet arrived at the cricket field. What does the law that governs this situation say?

According to Tom Smith’s New Cricket Umpiring and Scoring, if the umpires are satisfied that a player has been injured or becomes ill after the nomination of the players, they shall allow a substitute …irrespective of whether play is in progress or not. Further, the umpires shall have discretion, for other wholly acceptably reasons, to allow a substitute for a fielder or a runner for a batsman, at the start of the match or any subsequent time. The opposing captain shall have no right of objection to the use of a substitute.

A simplification: Player A while in the field informs the umpire that he has just suffered an injury or that he has serious cramps in his stomach and is unable to continue in the field. The umpire, being an umpire and not a doctor, is not trained to medically determine the physical condition of the player; hence he should and will allow a substitute. The same goes for batsman B who complains of inability to run because of cramps. He must be given a runner. Player C suffers an injury or becomes ill after he was named in the eleven and the card has already been given to the umpire. The toss has not yet been spun. All the captain needs to do is take the card from the umpire, scratch out C and insert D. Player P is named in the eleven but has not yet arrived at the cricket ground. His side is ready to take the field. His captain informs the umpires that, unknowing to him, player P’s wife became gravely ill and that P would be late for the game. The umpires, should this reason be acceptable to them, have the discretion to allow a substitute to take the field, even if this is at the start of the game. The opposing captain has no right of objection to the umpires allowing a substitute in the foregoing situations.

Not many palyers, or maybe a few umpires, I presume, are familiar with the term replacement player. But yes, there is such a law on the books that provide for using a replacement player. Situation: Player A is named in the eleven. The card has been given to the umpire. The toss has been spun. Player A is unable to take part in the match due to injury sustained prior to the start of the match, or he is called away on an emergency – he may be a doctor or a fireman -, or he may be required to attend a serious family matter. Should any of this situation occurs, player A’s captain may request that player B replace player A on the team. If the opposing captain grants the request, then the replacement player is in the game and is allowed to take full part in the game. This replacement may be allowed. He is allowed to bowl, bat, keep wicket, act as captain, if so required. This is so even if the game is already in progress. The umpires have no say in this situation. To summarize: a Replacement player takes full part in the game; a Substitute is only allowed on the field to act as a fielder during the absence of a named player.

Over the succeeding weeks I will endeavor to explain to you, the reader, some of the other intricacies of the cricket laws that govern our summer pastime, after consultation with Umpire/Trainer Mohamed Baksh and the USACUA. Comments and constructive criticisms may be conveyed to this writer, and all efforts will be made to address these in subsequent articles. Phone: Home (718) 945-0616, Cell (718) 844-7236 E-mail address Ssamrajs@aol.com

Hope to hear from as many readers as possible.