Gangsta cricketers make a serious point, not a silly one
Meet the respectable gentlemen of the Compton Cricket Club. Reformed gangsters and bad-asses from the violent neighbourhood of Compton, Los Angeles, who’ve taken up cricket to better themselves.
The CCC touched down in Australia this week, to raise funds and awareness for the club’s proposed tour of Australia in January and February.
Formed in the late 1990s, the team has previously toured England five times, and even performed their fantastic cricket rap at Buckingham Palace. The Guardian called it “the best cricket song ever”.
But Australia is the Holy Grail for these guys. As 59 year old team founder Ted Hayes told me this week:
“This would be the first time in sporting history that an American team is coming to play cricket in Australia.”
“We want to do here what we’ve done with black and Hispanic young people in Los Angeles. We want to take the idea of the etiquette of cricket and use it to help civilise people. That etiquette is needed so much in the world right now, and you can’t get it from baseball or basketball or American football.”
The cheats and sledgers in modern cricket could learn a lot from this guy, eh? I first met Ted Hayes in 2008, when I wrote this piece for Alpha magazine.
The man is a walking paradox. He’s a black, Jewish Republican who discovered the game of cricket when he was helping run a downtown LA homeless shelter.
Long story short: a British film producer helping out at the shelter ropes him into an expat cricket match. He loves the game. He starts a team for homeless men, the team moves to Compton, then morphs into a team which aims to reform troubled youth.
I had a net session with the team on that trip, and their skills are pretty average. But it their record of steering young men onto a productive life path is extraordinary.
Now for the bit where I ask for something. The CCC is seeking financial help and/or corporate sponsorship to make it to Australia at the end of this coming summer.
Their plan is to play against a range of local teams associated with charitable organisations. They also aim to play at the Imparja Cup, the big indigenous tournament in Alice Springs.
There’s a black tie fundraiser this Saturday night which I’m MC-ing. That’s MC as in Master of Ceremonies, not as in “Hammer”. I’m no hope of doing that sideways dance move.
I’m pretty sure that if you click on this site you’ll find details of Saturday night’s do, and more importantly, who to call to help out with the proposed tour.
Meanwhile, let me sign off with my all-time favourite Ted Hayes quote:
“I completely fell in love with the game of cricket the first time I saw it,. I thought ‘this is an amazing game’. It’s ethical, you have to be polite to the umpire, you have to be patient, and you can’t scratch your balls in public like you can in baseball. It’s the chess of sports.”
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