Posts Tagged ‘cricket’

Welcome to Netherland!

March 26, 2009

Joseph O’Neill’s most recent novel, Netherland, contains a vision of New York hosting the Cricket World Cup which coincides with the announcement of plans for an American Premier League.

The novel itself is in the tradition of the ‘American novel’, though it has been updated and reconfigured. Hans, the protagonist whose viewpoint we share, is a foreigner in a city of foreigners. The visionary, overwhelming Chuck Ramkissoon is from lowly origins in Trinidad. The cast of characters in the Chelsea Hotel spans from the Gothic (the transvestite angel, Mehmet Taspinar) to the mundane (a pair of rich schoolgirls). Where they meet (New York) is at once a meeting point and a point of departure.

People are looking for something that means something. A solid idea. Hans finds this in cricket. Through it he meets Chuck. Chuck has plenty of ideas, among them his master plan for a cricket stadium in New York, to become the focus of America’s re-re-awakening to cricket.

How strange that this American tournament should be in the offing. Due to take place on the very island that O’Neill plays his cricket now, and on which Hans does so in the book. Chuck’s dream may yet become a reality, and questions about whether cricket could ever take on in a country such as America may be answered. It is a subject that O’Neill addresses in an interview with Travis Elborough:

TE: Reading the book for the second time, I couldn’t help feeling that Chuck’s scheme to build a cricket stadium in America actually seemed less far-fetched than it had at first seemed to me. How plausible do you think it really is, though?

JO: I think there will certainly be someone who succeeds in installing a cricket stadium in the United States. But Chuck’s ambition to get a significant number of Americans to play cricket is surely a non-starter. Unless, of course, this current immigrant generation, which is from South Asia, seeds the game well in the United States. And then it could well become like lacrosse or rugby, a minority pastime, but nevertheless one that is played to a high level.”

I very much hope that this hypothesis is about to be put to the test. With many games being relocated to the Middle East, it is surely a shrewd move to provide a rival venue in an accessible, politically stable, high-security (excuse the term) city. I would much rather this were in the middle of a city such as New York than in the middle of a desert. Cricket should involve people, and, as Netherland hints at, New York represents an enormous, hitherto-untapped market for a sport that is definitely on the up. Here, think Twenty20 and the Indian fervour. If I were Jay Mir, the president and CEO of American Sports And Entertainment Group Inc, I would get Mr. O’Neill on board for this initiative. He has thought about this subject enough to write a bestseller on the topic, and a good one at that!

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Who’s that man? It’s Shakib Al Hasan!

January 14, 2009

World class players in the Bangladesh squad are as few and far between as Jaques Kallis’ two front teeth. 

Mohammed Ashraful is that infuriating mix of massive talent, inconsistency, and a burden the size of a country, but he’s definitely very good.  Have a look at some of these shots against England.

Who is this man?

Young.

The other is new-kid-who-doesn’t-block  Shakib Al Hasan (pictured). A mainstay of the team at only 21, he can bat and bowl with equal and great proficiency. Career-best bowling figures of 7 for 36 came against New Zealand, and earlier today he smashed 92 off 69 against the  spin twins Mendis and Murali to lead his side to victory over Sri Lanka in the Tri-nation series in Bangladesh. These are serious scalps for a team that usually struggles to beat Zimbabwe.  

In his last four ODI’s he has scored three half centuries and taken five wickets.  In his last four tests (against S.A. and Sri Lanka) he has averaged 26.75 and taken 22 wickets. He’s a spinner, so he’ll be tested away from the friendly, slow surfaces he’s accustomed to, but of course, he may enjoy batting on harder, more carrying wickets too. It’s a catch 22. He can’t lose. 

He will be hoping for more international cricket than Bangladesh currently have scheduled this year, however, as they only have three ODI’s against Zimbabwe before the World Twenty20 tournament in June. We’ll be watching him, but in the meantime, you can become his friend on Facebook or follow his forthcoming diary at www.bigstarcricket.com.