Chapter 11 - The meeting (NB from Qpee, it's been a LONG while but I've had a lot going on personally with work and whatnot. Not letting things die. Almost a year ago or not. Please comment.) I sat in the empty classroom, the folder of documents in front of me. So much had come to pass over the past couple of weeks that my mind was still coming to terms with it all. We had met with the school board a few times, ironed out the kinks. Scott and I had developed a basic contract which was approved by the men in charge, and we had then applied to the league board itself. More meetings followed. Having been in the pressure situation of being in the spotlight once before, via Mr. Browne, my speech flowed easily, and Scott backed me up whenever I faltered. He was incredibly keen on this entire idea of a new team, although he still had his reservations about the roster being composed of teens. Somehow, we got approved by the league. Mr. Browne the third voted against us, but we had managed to convince the rest of that board with the idea of the young bloods playing. Encouraging cricket in the city amongst the youth was our platform, and boy did Scott work that theme with all the flair of a veteran politician. We had given them the initial paperwork, and between Scott and myself (which took an insane amount out of our already fledgling savings accounts), we had gotten enough money to make the initial payments for the application process. It meant that I would be eating Ramen and spray-can cheese sandwiches for some time, but whatever. We needed a team name and logo, but we had decided to leave that until we actually had a team. I still did not know if we would have one, to be honest. I had put up flyers throughout the school and had spread the word amongst the students. Anyone interested in playing cricket (it involves a ball and a bat, guys), please attend a meeting on Thursday afternoon at 4pm. I hoped that we would get enough people in attendance. Another piece of good news was that I had been messaging Jaime with the news that we would be forming our own team. He quickly said that he was interested, although he was not too keen on the whole teenager thing himself. I reminded him that he had started playing at the age of 18 in his year off between high school and university, to which he quickly shut up. Scott, still ever-researching the way a team is supposed to be run, had decided that us three would form the core of the “board” of the team. I was team president, manager, head coach and player. He was team vice-president, assistant manager, coach and player. Jaime was team treasurer, secretary, coach, and player. A lot of roles for a few people, but we would make it work somehow. I flipped though the folder for what must have been the fourth time in ten minutes. More out of nervousness than anything else. A quick glance a the clock on the wall showed that it was nearing a quarter to four. Almost time. My phone buzzed and I looked down to see Jaime's message that he was on site. I picked up the conventional phone on the desk and called the main security booth, identifying myself by name and teacher ID number before telling them I was expecting visitors, naming both Jaime and Scott. The school simply did not let in people who had no business to be around and would no doubt check their identification cards before entry. A few minutes later, Jaime was walking through the door. I stood and greeted him. This was the first time in months I had seen him, and as it was nearing winter, the season had concluded just the week before. He had resigned from the Detonators, our previous team, within a day of the league ending. My former team had finished third in the standings, and from what I had heard, Wayne was not happy and blamed me for injuring him and not having him play the crucial matches. I counted to ten in my head as I tried to shut thoughts of Wayne out. Jeez. Anger management...hmph. “James, what's up. Good to see you, man.” I said, pulling him in close for a brief hug. “Scott's supposed to be here soon, too.” Jaime looked around. “Funny. When I went to school here it was never this fancy.” “You went to school here?!” I was shocked. “Oh yeah...years ago, of course.” Jaime was studying to be an engineer in an off-campus branch of the university. I had no idea he had gone to school in the same place in which I was now employed. It sort of made me feel a greater sense of kinship with him. We quickly caught up and exchanged stories. Scott came about five minutes later and we all waited with our breaths held and our hearts in our throats. The minutes passed by, with awkward conversation among us about “that time Scott missed the stumping because he had the ball in his right hand but broke the bails with his left” or “remember when Qpee appealed and got not out, only to appeal again and get it out?” Then...silence among us. “Nobody's coming...” Jaime began. Scott held up his hand to cut him off. “No, Jaime. Qpee has a few students big on cricket. They won't let us down. We'll work with what we have and then branch off from there.” “If you say so.” I sat quietly. Three minutes to four. Two. One. Four pm. Still, nobody. The clock ticked on. Nervously, I shuffled some papers around, my mind focused on nothing but the waste of time and money which we had suffered. Then, two young men walked in. And after those, more came. And the floodgates opened. We shook hands with each person and sat them down. At 4.30pm, we started the meeting proper. Scott had bought a thick notebook for Jaime to take down the minutes, and he began to do so diligently. As I welcomed the students, I saw many familiar faces. It gave me heart and inspiration to see them there, and I daresay that my speech may have been a little cliché or lifted from a movie somewhere. But what did the students care? They had likely been too young to see Braveheart, or that inspirational scene from Independence Day. Or somesuch. But after the motivation and all, this was just a first meeting, so everyone introduced themselves and stated their reasons for coming. By the end of everything, we decided to meet for our first practise/tryout session in one week's time. As the students left, the three of us discussed who had come and who could probably feature into our plans from the very start. This was the list of all who had come, as summarised in that thick notebook and with my own knowledge of the students added in... Sean and Greg: Two brothers originally from Scotland. About a year or so apart, they were very similar looking and could be mistaken for twins if you only glanced at them. They had moved here after their father had accepted a job requiring their relocation to the USA. Something about oil and chemical engineering. Being Scottish, they were familiar with cricket, although they had not played in years. Greg was the leaner of the two, and used to bowl medium pace at primary school level in Scotland. Sean used to keep wicket. All three of us agreed that if we could work Greg up to a good speed, he could be one to spearhead our attack. As for Sean, Scott said that while he was a good wicketkeeper, he could field in the circle if needed, and let Sean wear the gloves. I told him that we would see about that. I would not let the best keeper in years just field at silly mid off. Ranu: That's his shortened name. His full first name is about six syllables long and damn near unpronouncable. Add about five other names to the end of that, and you'd agree that Ranu is probably better. His family is from Sri Lanka, but he was born in the States. Cricket is in his blood, though, and he would often play in the park with his parents and siblings. He mentioned to us that he bowled leg spin but was not much of a batsman. Good enough for us, I guess. Eliza: The only girl who showed up, prompting a few questions from both Jaime and myself. Scott said that the rules did not specifically state that women cannot play. She had no cricketing experience, but she needed something on her recommendation letter for university that was unusual enough for her papers to be noticed. Jameson: A tall, lanky young man who I knew from working with him in the lab. He had Caribbean roots somewhere along the line, and had grown up on the stories of great West Indian fast bowlers. He had described himself as “a bit uncoordinated” but he was willing to try anything. That being said, he had tried basketball in the past and was not the best. But cricket, he was motivated for. “I come from a sporting family,” he said, “I need to show them that I'm not the nerdy black sheep.” Miles: Another one of the many who did not know much about cricket. But he was a good athlete, having done the long jump and triple jump in the past. Something about the game interested him, he said. Scott elbowed me and said if a guy does jumps then he knows how to stop on a line while maintaining momentum. Make him a bowler, he said. That may not have been such a bad idea, to be honest. Sam: He was all out American, yet he used to attend most of the league matches. Stumbling upon the game on YouTube one day, he had been interested and was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were matches in his area. He mentioned that he would sometimes use his baseball bat much like a cricket bat, although given the nature of baseball, it was hard for him to not hit to the leg side all the time from a cricket batsman's stance. Michael: Solid is the best word for this young man. He was muscular, powerful, and looked like he could genuinely beat you up. He had been on his junior high amateur wrestling team, and would have taken it even further if our school had a wrestling team of its own. But while at the lower level, the team had made it to the world championships in Australia. Part of that trip involved seeing a Pura Cup match and a “net session” with some of the team. He was horrible with his timing, he said, but when he did hit the ball, he was powerful. One or two of the bowlers had told him that if he ever got a chance to play cricket and hone his power, he should. Vishan: One of Ranu's best friends, and also another young man with subcontinental origins. His father had escaped what was then a very trying time in Iran's history, and had opened up a Middle Eastern restaurant with the money he had left on him. Over time and with the success of his Arabic food, he had been able to pay for the rest of his family to come to the USA. Now, the restaurant had about four different branches in the city, and his family definitely were wealthy. As for Vishan, he would often take part in Ranu's family's games on a weekend, and he loved it. Wilburforce: This unfortunately named young man (he swears it belonged to his great grandfather, who was a general in the Civil War...Jaime begged to differ) was one of the ones chosen by the school board to receive a full scholarship. He came from very humble beginnings, and it was hard for him to adjust to the shock of attending a private school. I had found him crying silently to himself in the lab one day after school, and he had told me that he did not feel like he fit in. After speaking to him for some time, I had managed to cheer him up, and now he wanted to follow in my footsteps. He began attending my matches and had learned a great deal about cricket along the way. Alex: The stereotypical overachiever. He knew next to nothing about cricket, but he wanted to give it a try. Any new club or committee that was formed in school, you can bet that he would be there. A chunky (not so much Ranatunga-esque, more like Inzy) guy, he would need a bit of fitness training in his future for sure. Jason: Eliza's on-again, off-again boyfriend. At the time, they were off-again. He wanted to win her back, and so had followed her to the meeting. One of the many who did not know much about cricket, but he said that he was going to do anything to impress her. I hope he knew what that anything meant. And there we had it. A small bunch, a lot of whom really needed some training about cricket. Jaime took all of their information including emails and phone numbers. We handed them their “contracts” and told them that their parents needed to sign it. It involved things like being cut from the team if you didn't maintain at least a B- average and that you needed to maintain the Spirit of the Game and so on, etc. Scott then gave them a sheet of paper each, on which was printed links to the rules of the game and also some useful links on YouTube explaining those rules and then some links directing them to some of the better highlights we had seen over the years. All in all, I suppose it was a successful meeting. But I wondered who would turn up for the next one, or even for our practise session.