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By VINODE MAMCHAN
One evening in the nineties as he and his best buddy Amin Markatia sat and reminisced about their cricket days in Pakistan, Mahammad Ahmed Qureshi decided that enough was enough and that he was going to start up a cricket league right here in the United States.
If he could not go to cricket, he was going to bring cricket to himself and so many of the Asian diaspora who were longing for some action. When Qureshi and Markatia spoke about cricket, it connected them to their home country, there was this warm feeling.
Maq decided then and there to start hosting matches at the club level to begin with. However, the self-made millionaire had a plan. His plan was that one day international cricketers would traverse this country playing their trade and bringing joy to the many cricket lovers in Uncle Sam’s land. Armed with this burning desire he decided to stage a series of matches involving the West Indies, India and Pakistan and packed out the Central Broward Regional Park.
From no cricket being played, all of a sudden cars were backed up on State Road 7, as the ground could not hold any more people. This filled him with pride and passion and this led to the arrival of Cricket Council USA (CCUSA) in 1999 then followed the US Open T20 cricket tournament in 2008. In the early days when persons heard about the US Open they were thinking just tennis. However, by the dint of hard work and perseverance, everyone, even immigration officers at Miami International Airport knows that the US Open is also about cricket. It was a brilliant name to catch unto and Maq known for his vision has now grown the brand tremendously.
When the first ball of the US Open T20 was delivered back in 2008, it was done by a local cricketer bowling to another local cricketer, with local umpires and no broadcast. Fast forward 13 years later and when the first ball is bowled on Monday, December 6, it will most likely bowled by an international star to a local batsman, with USA approved umpires and international broadcasting by MaqTv.
The tournament has grown to massive proportions and now international players and agents from all around the world are trying to get in on the action. A look at this year’s tournament will see the Universe Boss Chris Gayle being involved yet again after taking the Atlanta Param Veers to the title last year. The Champion DJ Bravo will be in the mix as well as a host of international stars. International media is now looking towards taking the action as well. This year the matches will be shown in all cricket playing nations.
Maq has remained humble as all he wants is to see his adopted country the United States prosper on the cricket field and he knows that by bringing in international stars, the local players will improve their game.
The 13th edition of the tournament is about to bowl off and when the clock strikes 9.30am on Monday, December 13th, another great day in the history of American cricket would have arrived.