Thursday, September 20, 2012

TEAM BELIZE: VISIT TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA


            
The Belize National Cricket Team “TEAM BELIZE” made a historic visit to Southern California over the Labor Day weekend from August 30 to September 5, 2012 as guest of the Southern California Cricket Association (S.C.C.A.) and the California-Belize Cricket Club (Cal-Bel). Team Belize played three consecutive cricket matches in as many days, winning all three games. The first match was played on September 1st against a local West Indies X1, the second against Cal-Bel on September 2nd and the final match was against an S.C.C.A. X1 on Monday, September 3rd, 2012.  The entire team had arrived in Los Angeles by August 30, except for its opening bowler, Rodwell Conorquie, who landed at LAX the following night.
           

Team Belize Players were met at the Los Angeles International Airport by a welcoming party made up of relatives and friends, including members of the Cal-Bel Cricket Club headed by its president, the Rev. Tony Jones, who saw to it that they were all taken care of throughout their stay, with the help of Belizeans who had volunteered in advance to care for them during their visit. The team arrival in California went smoothly after months of careful planning by the Cal-Bel organizers who were asked by the S.C.C.A. President, Dr. Kamal Azeez, to take the lead in planning the tour. This was the first time that a Belize National Cricket Team was invited to play in Southern California, and most of the players were visiting here for the first time and needed all the support they could get. Cal-Bel scheduled a welcoming BBQ to raise funds for Team Belize on Friday, August 31, that was cancelled due to a mix up in the arrival date of the team, but when the bulk of the players arrived on time as originally scheduled, Cal-Bel hastily substituted a welcoming meet and greet event for the team, with Bobby B. Sutherland as DJ. These youthful and well-disciplined players fit right in and felt right at home among us, and were well respectful of their able team captain who had been with them since 2006, Dirk Sutherland, and their low profiled manager, Llewellyn Sutherland, who lead the tour. Most of Cal-Bel players were in Belize last year Easter and played against most of these guys, as well as against the best cricketers in Belize who have never played on the National Team.
           
The Belize National Cricket Team that toured California was not of full strength since a number of the best players that represented Belize abroad on the national side could not make it to California because of financial constraints and other personal reasons, and had to be substituted by young untested players who were playing on the team for the first time. These included such youths as seventeen year old Kenroy Reynolds, who has been representing Belize internationally at the under-nineteen youth tournament sponsored by the I.C.C. This young man is highly disciplined and was very impressive in his overall performance on the tour.

Team Belize played a fairly good first game on Saturday, September 1, 2012, defeating a selected side from several Caribbean countries, including Belize. The game started way later that expected at 2:45pm, with each side bowling 30 six ball overs. Team Belize batted first and scored 192 runs for 9 wickets, with the player of the game, Kenroy Roca, top scoring with 56 runs. Kenroy Roca also did an excellent job bowling. Rodwell Conerquie played exceptionally well, batting 32 runs not out. Rodwell was undoubtedly the STAR Bowler of the match, seconded closely by Kene Broaster, Kenroy Roca and the seventeen year old youth, Kenroy Reynolds. There were some exceptional catches made by more than one player from Team Belize, most prominently by Kene Broaster and another player in the outfield, who chased down a ball and managed to catch it in his lap while on the ground in a sitting position. Rodwell opened bowl for Team Belize and in the first 3 balls, got the Caribbean side open bats to offer and easy catch that was dropped. He got him to offer again in the second over and retired him. He got a second batsman to offer in the first over and therefore got two good wickets in two over for just about nil. All the other bowlers were pretty good and the field was tight. Team Belize retired six batsmen in the allotted 30 overs. The captain, Dirk Sutherland, and Mr. Roca, both got ran out.
           
Sunday, September 2nd was set aside for the two teams of Belizeans to play a match against each other in honor of Hazzart Anthony, a popular Cal-Bel player who won our bowling trophies for taking the most wickets and for bowling average in the 2011 cricket season, who suddenly passed away in mid-May this year. Team Belize won the trophy by defeating the Cal-Bel Cricket Club 218 to 171 runs. Kene Broaster won the player of the game trophy by scoring 95 runs and did an outstanding performance bowling and fielding. Kene's older brother, Jason, who captained the game on the Cal-Bel side, top scored for Cal-Bel with 39 runs. Rodwell Conorquie opened bowled for Team Belize and managed to get one wicket for 22 runs in his allotted 5 overs, after two early catches were dropped by his team mates in the slip. Cal-Bel's Captain, Jason Broaster, took 3 wickets for 8 runs in 5 overs, and Clarence McKay took 2 wickets for about 10 runs in 2 overs.
           
The game was well attended by people from Belize and other Caribbean countries, who had the pleasure of listening to Donkeyman from Belize DJing in a fun and lively manner. The Belize Consul General and members of his staff attended the game, as well as several dignitaries from the Caribbean Community in California and from California itself.
           
In anticipation for an all out match against the S.C.C.A. X1 on Monday, September 3, 2012, Team Belize substituted Bobby B. Sutherland and Jason Broaster, two of Belize’s best players in the California league to strengthen up its team. They defeated the S.C.C.A. X1 quite easily in a 20 overs match, with the S.C.C.A. X1 scoring only 135 runs after batting out their allotted 20 overs, while Team Belize lost only two wickets before passing the score with 139 runs in 12 overs.  Kene Broaster again top scored for Team Belize with 71 runs not out, and thus winning the series M.V.P. Award. Bobby B. Sutherland had just joined Kene and together they quickly passed the S.C.C.A. X1 score, leaving Jason Broaster all padded up and ready to bat. The Belize Team that came to California was just about half strength since four of Team Belize top players, including its number one batsman, Warren Anthony, and his hard hitting brother, Mikhail, could not make the trip. Cricketers from the Belize and Caribbean community in California have expressed their disappointment with the low level S.C.C.A. X1 selection, which included four teenage players from the Youth Team, when everyone were anticipating a much more competitive 30 overs match that would have really tested the Team Belize players. The top level players in the California League were competing in a S.C.C.A. sponsored T-20 Tournament for a winning purse of US $5,000.00. Their games were being played on the same grounds at Woodley Park and lasted into the mid-afternoon, which caused all the Team Belize games to start much later than scheduled. At the end of each game, an award was given to the most outstanding player of the match.
           
An Official welcoming ceremony for Team Belize was held at Woodley Park, prior to game one, on Saturday, September 1, 2012 where the players were warmly welcomed by the S.C.C.A. President, California, Judge Niles, Retired Los Angeles City Councilor, Robert Farrell, and the Belize Consul General of California, the Hon. Roland Yorke.

Individual gift bags, including a red cap, were given to all the players by the President of the Association, Dr. Kamal Azeez, who was very instrumental in getting the Belize National Team to play in California. At the end of each game, awards were given out to the most outstanding player of the match, one of which was won by Kenroy Roca and two by Kene Broaster, the winner of the M.V.P. trophy for the series. Team Belize was also awarded by the Belize Consul General at the Cal-Bel sponsored Welcoming Banquet held on the night of Saturday, September I, 2012. Boozy and the New Dimensions Band, supported by D.J. Easy, provided the music for the banquet, which by all accounts was a huge success. DJ Easy, Jason Broaster and Cecil Reynalds and his
brother, Donkeyman, all provided the music at Woodley Park on separate days, entertaining the massive crowds of people, including Belizeans coming all the way from Chicago, Arizona and other states for the games. Boozy and the New Dimensions Band, joined by King Rancho, had the crowd rocking at the park all day on Labor Day, and the band was the topic of conversation by the Caribbean Community who couldn’t get enough of them. Even the traditional Belizean Tenth of September March was in full swing at the park, with Belizeans proudly waving their National
Flags in celebration.
           
By all accounts, the visit of Team Belize to Southern California was a huge success. Even the S.C.C.A. President boasted that California Cricket Community had not seen such a large and peaceful turn out at Woodley Park since 2006 and has extended an invitation to Team Belize to come back and play again in September, 2013. Team Belize made such a positive impression in California by their general attitude and sportsmanship that the president even called on the team captain, Dirk Sutherland, to sing for the crowd. Dirk reluctantly accepted and hit up a couple Bob Marley songs.

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