By RON FANFAIR
A framed photograph of Michael Holding and Cavaliers Cricket Club junior coach, Denis Rajroop, who played against the former West Indies fast bowler when Commonwealth toured Jamaica in 1982, adorns a wall in the home of the Guyanese-Canadian.
He has used this prized possession to inspire the younger of his two sons – 19-year-old Warren – to follow the footsteps of one of the fastest bowlers to play the sport.
The Ryerson University Information Technology Management student has paid heed, developing into a useful right-arm medium-pacer who can also hold his own as a left-handed batsman. His leadership skills are also evident as he has been called upon to captain the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) Mayor’s team that’s on a nine-day tour of England.
The 14-member squad was unveiled last Tuesday at a breakfast reception at City Hall.
“This is a very unique opportunity,” said the young Rajroop, who played with Toronto Cricket Academy for three years before joining Cavaliers in 2004. “Any cricketer would be thrilled to go to England and Lords which is considered the game’s home. I am looking forward to my first trip across the Atlantic and the opportunity to be part of an exciting group of young players from the Greater Toronto Area.”
A former Cavaliers and Commonwealth Cricket Club medium-pacer, Denis Rajroop is obviously proud of his son’s accomplishments.
“Hopefully, he will use the England experience to lift his game to another level,” said the elder Rajroop who met his wife Janet while touring Jamaica 27 years ago. “He’s very focused and committed to the sport and I expect that he will go a long way in the game.”
Warren Rajroop, who graduated from Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy, made cricket his number one sport when a collar bone fracture in Grade 10 forced him to quit hockey. His vice-captain and wicketkeeper, 16-year-old Darren Ramsammy, still plays hockey on a recreational basis after being introduced to cricket just three years ago.
“To be honest, I am amazed with how far this kid has come in such a short time,” said Ramsammy’s dad, Robin, who played for Vikings, Cavaliers and Overseas in the Toronto & District Cricket League and represented Canada for eight years until 1992. “As a former wicketkeeper, I am able to work with him on things like glovework and flexibility.”
The Lady of Mount Carmel student and Ontario Cricket Academy competitor was the TDCA Most Improved junior player last season.
“My dad has passed on a lot of wicketkeeping tips that have helped me,” said Ramsammy. “My aim is to play for Canada at the senior level so, hopefully, this tour will open doors for me, perhaps to be spotted by an English club.”
In its second year, the scholarship program – titled Cricket Across the Pond – enables young cricketers from Toronto’s diverse communities to participate in the program that includes a visit to Lords.
The City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry and Recreation Access & Diversity Unit teamed up with CIMA, the Royal Bank of Canada and Bell Canada to support the initiative that provides youths with an opportunity to showcase their skills and also to represent this city abroad.
Mayor David Miller, who was born in England and came to Canada at age eight, said the City of Toronto strives to offer innovative programs which reflect young people’s interests.
“Cricket Across the Pond gives youth an opportunity to participate in a sport that is becoming increasingly popular in Toronto and to travel and gain new experiences and knowledge that will be with them for a lifetime,” he added.
The full touring squad is Warren Rajroop (capt.), Darren Ramsammy (vice-capt.), Malin Adikari (Victoria Park Collegiate), Ahmed Bakhtiar (C.W. Jefferys), Aftaab Bhullar (Upper Canada College), Parth Desai (Woburn), Quinn Flaherty (Trinity College), Kesavan Juvarajan (Westhill), Ali Syed (Central Commerce), Jay Shah (Northview Heights), Abidur Rahaman (William Lyon Mackenzie), Rayyankhan Pathan (York Memorial) and Hardik Kotak (Markville Secondary).
Peter Karunaratne and Derek Perera are the manager and coach, respectively.
The Royal Bank of Canada is the lead sponsor for the scholarship program. Each scholarship is worth nearly $100,000.