Last weekend saw the ninth annual U.S. Corporate Cricket Championship (formerly the Big Three Tournament), run by the Michigan Cricket Association. Nine teams competed, with many local players representing their companies, and other familiar faces appearing as guest players. MCA parent Neill Quinlan played for Chrysler, showing exemplary skill in the field (he took a steepling catch on the boundary against Henry Ford Health Systems) and also revealing a new side to his batting when he smacked the HFHS bowling all over the field in an aggressive cameo. Later on Saturday, MCA players arriving at Lyon Oaks for practice noticed what looked like a very familiar figure at the crease, batting for Chrysler in the day’s third match, against Daimler Finance, but were puzzled that the figure seemed to have a white beard. As soon as the batsman played a trademark flick off his legs, observers were left in no doubt: it was, indeed, MCA Coach and Chrysler guest player Shyam Mayasandra. He had not, in fact, grown a beard, but was wearing bandages around his face, because, earlier in the match, he had taken a top edge off a pull straight into his own chin, cutting his face and his tongue (Coach Shyam, of course, belongs to the generation that regards helmets as best suited – if at all – to motor-cyclists). After taking the blow, Coach Shyam retired briefly to be patched up, and then returned, bandaged, and unable to talk, to punish the bowling that inflicted his injury. Readers will not be surprised to learn that Coach Shyam carried out his plan to perfection, demonstrating not only admirable bravery, but also his usual skill in punishing the bad ball, to carry his bat for an unbeaten, and well-paced, 56, which drew great admiration from all around. His knock helped Chrysler defeat Daimler Finance, propelling them to a semi-final meeting the next day with another of this year’s new entrants, Caterpillar of Peoria; meanwhile, Ford, four-times champion, faced Daimler Finance in the other semi-final. Coach Shyam, Neill Quinlan, and the other Chrysler players fought hard against Caterpillar, but the Illinois opponent confirmed its status as tournament favorite with a solid victory, moving on to the final at Bloomer Park, where big-hitting Ford awaited. That final, played before a big crowd and web-cast live on the Internet, showed again the power of the young Caterpillar team. Winning the toss, they put Ford in, and despite some excellent batting from captain Rehan and other Ford players, restricted their opponent to 168, helped by excellent fielding and good death bowling by Yousaf (who had captained Ford in earlier years, before moving to Peoria). When, in the Caterpillar reply, the first wicket fell for only 16, there must have been some flutters in the Illinois camp, but that turned out to be Ford’s only success: a splendid unbeaten century by man-of-the-match Ram, ably supported by Aniruddh, saw Caterpillar home, with Ford’s fielding and bowling not quite sufficient to challenge what was clearly the tournament’s best team.
In addition to Neill Quinlan and Shyam Mayasandra, other MCA members and associates played a role in the tournament: Jayanth Canchi, father of MCA player Pawan and one of MichCA’s top umpires, stood in several matches, and MCA Joint Head Coach Vasanth Krishnaswami provided very enlightening color commentary. The web cast attracted viewers from across the world (at one point there were viewers in India and Pakistan), and has been archived at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/usccc. MCA members will recognize other familiar voices.
MCA Joint Head Coach Shyam Mayasandra, after hitting 56 not out for Chrysler