Belfast Telegraph

New York's cricketing cops relish challenge

By Steven Beacom

The New York Police Department conjures up images of a million movie scenes, hit television shows like Cagney and Lacey, Kojak, NYPD Blue and more recently Law and Order.

There's also those cool peak caps bearing the legend NYPD. Admit it, haven't you always wanted one?

And of course there was the admirable, dignified and professional manner in which 'New York's finest' dealt with the tragic events of 9/11 in their home city.

What you would never associate with the NYPD, however, is cricket. Well, think again because a cricket team from the New York Police Department is right here in Northern Ireland competing in the World Police and Fire Games!

They played their first match in Belfast yesterday and while they lost out to the Australian Fire Brigade at Shaw's Bridge, it was still a special and significant occasion for a team that was formed just TWO years ago.

Sgt Mahaan Chandu, who founded the side, was a proud man as he watched the New York players bat, bowl and field in what he described as the "biggest match we've ever played".

In Belfast with his wife and two daughters, Mahann explained: "We have a lot of different sports in the NYPD.

"Mainly they are American sports but there is also a rugby side and gaelic football team and with the Department becoming more diverse every year I decided to start a cricket team.

"My first recruits were South Asian and in the last year we added a lot of Caribbean players. The guys in our team come from all different parts of the world, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Guyana and Jamaica.

"We've been going for a couple of years now and play in a local league and against other police departments most notably the Toronto Police Department."

In a hands across the North American border move, the NYPD actually have a player from the Toronto Police Department in their ranks here, all-rounder Kullo Shaukat, cementing the relationship between the American and Canadian forces.

Mahann added: "We have been looking to increase our involvement in the sport and being here at the World Police and Fire Games provides us with our biggest test to date.

"Our colleagues back home have been very supportive of the cricket team. For instance the baseball guys will come to our games and we will support them, too.

"Cricket is catching on slowly in the States and we feel very much part of the big sports scene in the Department."

As for the experience of attending the World Police and Fire Games, he said: "As policemen and firemen we are in an extremely dangerous profession and a lot of what we do is similar all over the world. It is nice to celebrate that professionalism at these Games."

Yesterday's Twenty20 match between NYPD and the Aussie Fire Brigade was reduced to 13 overs per side due to the weather. New York made 84 for five, but it wasn't enough as the Australians won by nine wickets totalling 85 for one.

This is the first time cricket has been played in the World Police and Fire Games and there was local interest in yesterday's other match in the tournament with the PSNI beating a Joint Forces team, made up of colleagues from the north and south of Ireland, at Stormont by 13 runs.

Three matches are scheduled for today with two sides from Sri Lanka entering the fray – the Sri Lanka Customs Veterans and Sri Lanka Customs Lions.

Each team plays each other over the course of the next week with placings worked out on points for victories and run rate.

Belfast Telegraph

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