The Toronto Police Cricket Club played host to some top police cricket teams but, for the second straight year, failed in its bid to capture the North American Police title.
In the final of the third annual tournament at the Percival Cummins Memorial ground in Scarborough last Sunday, the host team succumbed to the New York Police Department (NYPD) A team – the defending champions -- by 36 runs.
Set an imposing 189 for victory, TPCC made a strong reply, mustering 152-1 in its allotted 20 overs.
Constable Roshan Nallaratnam, of Traffic Services, who captained the TPCC, opened the batting and was unbeaten with 84, an innings that included five sixes. Retired officer Richard Moore registered 23 runs before retiring while TPCC president Amir Butt was unbeaten with 16.
Nallaratnam, who scored 263 runs in five innings at a remarkable average of 131.5, won the Best Batsman Award.
“As the captain, I wanted to lead from the front and score as many runs as possible to give my team a chance of winning,” he said. “I took that responsibility on my shoulders. I love batting and I enjoy playing the sport.”
Butt said that chasing a total of 189 was always going to be a challenge on a slow wicket.
“It was too many runs but, on the other hand, the New York team batted really well,” he pointed out. “Though our fielding was weak and we dropped a few catches, we cannot take anything away from New York and the effort they put in in the championship match.”
It was the TPCC’s only loss during the three-day championship that attracted two NYPD teams and the Worcester police side from England.
In the semi-finals, Nallaratnam recorded an unbeaten 95 with five sixes and eight boundaries to lead his side to an impressive total of 177-2 in 20 overs over the NYPD “B” team, which was restricted to 107-4 in 20 overs.
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee joined Superintendent Dave McLeod – a TPCC founding member and avid supporter – in presenting the awards.
Medium-pacer Godwin Alfred, who will graduate from the Toronto Police College next month, clinched the Best Bowler Award.
“I am happy that I was able to play my part and I am looking forward to continuing to represent the Toronto Police with distinction,” said Alfred, who played for Centurions in the Toronto & District Cricket Association league before joining the TPCC.
Harinder Khela, who has been with the NYPD for eight years – captured the finals Most Valuable Player Award.
Mukherjee and Acting Chief Mark Saunders welcomed the teams and opened the tournament at Ashtonbee Reservoir Park on August 8.
“Cricket is a game that spans continents and brings people together,” said Mukherjee. “It has the power to transcend differences between diverse cultural communities. Cricket is also about fun and fellowship.”
Mukherjee is a longtime supporter of the TPCC, which took the lead two years ago in managing the North American Police Cricket Championship after Waterloo Regional Police Service assisted with the organization of the inaugural tournament in Kitchener in 2012.
“I am proud of the Toronto Police Cricket Club and its successes and achievements over the years,” he added. “The club is a wonderful demonstration of teamwork and camaraderie, of athletic skill and ability. The members of the club also understand the power and the appeal of cricket. They have used the game to reach out to the community and used it as an effective tool for outreach and recruitment.
“Through cricket, police services are forming strong partnerships and friendships which are bonds that are effective for critical law enforcement and to help to instil the notion of a committed and united workforce that stretches across jurisdictions and indeed across oceans.”
Born in England where the game has been played since the 16th century, Saunders said the game is near and dear to him.
“In fact, it’s the only sport that I ever witnessed my father and my brother play,” he said. “At age 10, I learned how to score. So I love the game and I enjoy watching it. I am so glad we have the ability to break down barriers and be here together as one playing the game.”
While fully supporting the TPCC, Saunders was delighted to see an English team take part in the competition for the first time.
A participant in the Worcester Evening League since 1933, the club has toured the Caribbean, Australia, Sri Lanka, The Netherlands, Ireland and Florida.
“We held a tournament in England in 2004 which the TPCC participated in and they promised that one day they would host us,” said the club’s chair Graham Blomfied. “That day has arrived and we are so ecstatic to be in Canada and Toronto for the first time. We are looking forward to enjoying your fine city.”
The Worcester side included Canadian-born guest player Mark Adams.
The off-spinner, who was born in Saskatchewan, moved to Western Australia with his family in 1974 when he was just four years old.
“It feels as if I have come home,” said Adams, who spent 23 years with the Western Australia Police Service before resigning a few years ago. “I went to a Toronto Blue Jays game and I am just relishing the time here.”
Players’ families, along with Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association general manager Mike Bagg and second vice-president Chris Devereux, were among the spectators over the weekend.
“We are very proud to support this event,” said Devereux, a constable at 32 Division. “As you know, we are all about promoting sport, fitness and camaraderie.”
The TPCC will join the NYPD, Worcester and a Jamaican team in the inaugural Dillon Stewart Memorial Cup competition, from August 15-17, at Idlewild Cricket Park in Queens, New York.
Jamaican-born Stewart was killed in the line of duty in November 2005, as he and his partner attempted to pull over a car after the driver ran a red light in Brooklyn.
“While cricket is a lot of fun and we love the competition, some of us don’t make it home some nights and those are the people we have to keep in our thoughts,” said NYPD manager Sergeant Maahan Chandu. “We will never forget the heroes that went before us.”