York team wins American College Cricket title

Front row, from left: Hassan Choghtai, Ahmad Malik, Jaiveer Chauhan, Raza Rehman, Jai Patel, Saad Zafar, Faiyaz Chowdhury.
Back row, from left, Zubair Zia, Damminda Amarasingha, Chirag Shah, Mahjuj Sourav, Donald Lockerbie, CEO USA Cricket Association, Lloyd Jodah, president of American College Cricket, Nino DiLoreto, ACC vice-president. Photo by Daniela Zaharia, courtesy of American College Cricket.

At the 2010 American College Cricket Spring Break Championship in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., there was no doubt who was going to win the championship match and the Shivnarine Chanderpaul Trophy – it was going to be York. The only question was: would it be the team from the York University Cricket Club (YUCC) or the side from York College at the City University of New York?

There was nary a Lancaster in sight.

In the end, it was the team from York University that cruised undefeated through the 19-team showcase to become the first Canadians to win it.

The 13 YUCC players only found out about the event in February after getting a call from Cricket Canada, who agreed to pay the $400 entry fee. Aside from that, the players were on their own for $9,000 in travel and expenses. Vanier College contributed $150.

Above: Team captain Mahjuj Sourav talks about the event

“It’s great, I can’t explain it,” said captain Mahjuj Sourav (BA Spec. Hons. ’06) when asked about the team’s strategy in an interview which is available online. “It’s been such a long journey, organizing the whole team and coming here and actually winning this. It’s really big.”

“It’s the guys, they are fantastic cricket players,” said Sourav. Khushroo Wadia and Jai Patel in particular, he said, were outstanding and left many in Florida mesmerized at  their batting skills.

Raza RahmanLeft: Raza Rehman at the wicket. Photo by Daniela Zaharia, courtesy of American Colleges Cricket.

Each team was allowed a normal 11-man side with two alternates. Teams were each allowed two alumni as part of their squads. Sourav, who now works for the CBC’s digital programming section, is a graduate of York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering and Chirag Shah (BA ’04) is an Atkinson accounting grad. Other team members, all York students, included players from the Toronto & District Cricket Association and the Brampton-Etobicoke District Cricket League, which feature some of the best players in the country. The York team included Hassan Choghtai, Khushroo Wadia, Raza Rehman, Jai Patel, Zubair Zia, Saad Zafar, Faiyaz Khan Chowdhury, Jaiveer Chauhan, Mohit Punjabi, Damminda Amarasingha and Ahmad Pervaiz Malik

Patel, who was named the tournament’s most-valuable player and top batsman on the final day, is a former member of the national under-19 team from the United Arab Emirates. Rehman, who also played a strong tournament, is a former member of Pakistan’s U19 squad. Sourav was named best bowler on the final day and put in a dominant performance bowling out York College’s strongest player, Akim Dodson, a former batsman for Team USA.

Jai Patel MVP, York University CCLeft: Jai Patel accepts the most valuable player trophy. Photo by Daniela Zaharia, courtesy of American College Cricket.

The YUCC team, which hadn’t played since August 2009, had only had four weeks of practice indoors and needed to request accommodation from some of their professors as the tournament conflicted with midterm exams. Their only outdoor practice time came at the tournament when one match was postponed for an hour.

“Our vision was the same as the organizers,” said Sourav. “That’s why they made the effort. We want to get cricket to the next level.”

The Webcast of the final event was watched by thousands on their computers and televisions. Malls in Toronto, such as Square One in Mississauga, put the game on their Jumbotron. The International Cricket Council carried the Webcast as did the USA Cricket Association and Cricket Canada. The games are still available on the American College Cricket Web site.

The viewers and he players from both teams watched a surprise ending to the final match when the lights went out with one wicket remaining.

Sourav said plans are already being made to defend the title next year and the team has received several invitations from colleges in the US to play in tournaments, including an invitation to Queens, NY, from their opponents in the championship.