Yes. Every city.
His first century was in Sydney.
The second was in
All through the
game, especially during its tea breaks, fans and players mingled. One Virginia
player, Saudhaun Baxi, a bowler born in India, has a university degree in
accounting and was working as a cashier at a service station. The money he
earns playing cricket is unimportant to him. As Baxi tells it, the Virginia
team manager, Gunu Suri, owner of a medical supplies business, said he would
pay Baxi $200 a game but later lowered it to $150. When Baxi learned of his pay
cut, he shrugged. "My expenses are low," he said. "I'm a single guy
living with my aunt, I don't eat out, and I don't believe in sex before
marriage. I love cricket. I'd play for free."
Baxi cited his
sexual abstinence credo as if it were a money-saver, and maybe it is for him,
but it has nothing to do with cricket. There's something about the sport
that--how best to put this?--would make Austin Powers feel right at home. Yeah,
bay-bee. After a playoff win in September the Kensington team and various
guests went on a cruise on the Potomac to celebrate both the victory and the
squad's 10th anniversary. Women outnumbered men. There was dancing on the top
deck, and the most popular drink of the night was Hennessy and Coke chased by
Red Bull. The boat's crew members, all white Americans, were invited by the
Jamaicans to shake some booty, and at the end of the night one of boat hands
said, "We've never had so much fun." One player invited two dates and
somehow succeeded in keeping one from the other. The boat got a curfew
extension from the U.S. Coast Guard and limped back to the dock at 3 a.m.
Back to the final.
The names of the 22 players had been carefully entered in ink in the official's
scorebook. All of them were born overseas, their dark skin accentuated by their
white uniforms. From the stands, Pakistani men said a single Urdu word over and
over: Shabash, shabash, shabash, shabash. It means excellent, but on this
bright day it was more like a Little League chant: Li'l hit here, li'l hit.
Baxi predicted a
victory for Virginia, throwing out logic and the game's early results. "I
am sure of it," he said. But despite all the shabash-shabash-shabash on the
Virginia side, Kensington was in control of the game. Yvette Douglas,
Kensington's unofficial social director and a paralegal in Ellis's office,
stirred a fish stew on a charcoal grill, anticipating a victory supper. Ellis,
a skillful politician, was moving around, talking to officials and fans and
players, acting relaxed.
Late in the day
there was a reversal only Baxi, the service station man, could have predicted.
In baseball terms, it was the bottom of the ninth, runners on second and third,
no outs, Kensington trailing by a run but about to send up the heart of its
batting order. Kensington had only to do all the little things right, and it
would win another WCL title.
The light was
fading. The air was getting cool, and you could see goose bumps on Douglas's
forearms, no longer over the grill. Fans left their card games and bleacher
seats and stood on the edge of the field with open mouths, some screaming,
others silent. In quality, the play wasn't close to international test cricket
or even English county cricket, but the eight-hour game was well played and
ended thrillingly. A wicket stood, a wicket fell, runs were scored and then
they weren't, players argued, outs were made, and suddenly the hands of the
fielders went up in celebration: Virginia had defeated Kensington, 195 runs to
192. A major upset. Sir Sheldon walked up to Gunu Suri, shook his hand and
said, "You earned it." It was cricket.