LA Open preview June 20, 2006

Azharuddin and Richardson LA bound

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The LA Open is celebrating several years of operation as the longest-running tournament of its kind in the USA. Following on the 2005-6 Interstate Tournament staged in Florida , the action now shifts to the West Coast. The LA Open is the second major tournament of the US cricket season to feature first-class cricketers as part of its format, and the tournament promises the usual excellent facilities and administration that has become a hallmark of Los Angeles cricket.

Calling itself (not without some justification!) the "Premier Cricket Tournament in the United States," the LA Open has announced its line-up of teams and players scheduled to compete from Saturday, July 1 through to Monday, July 3 for over $25,000 in prize money.

The Trinidad & Tobago Cricket Board is sending their current national team with players such as Ricardo Powell, Lendl Simmons and Dave Mohammed, along with several up-and-coming young stars. Also from Trinidad are the Division One league champions, Alescon Comets, with several cricketers from Trinidad, Guyana and other local regions.

Air India, the top corporate cricket team in India, will have several players who have represented India in international matches, including Sameer Dighe, Pravin Amre, and Narendra Hirwani among others.

From Southern California will be teams such as Punjab Blues, with several well-known cricketers such as Richie Richardson, Stuart Williams, Curtly Ambrose, and Adam Sanford, and Packers XI, with players such as Mohammed Azharuddin, Nikhil Chopra, Rohan Gavaskar, Arvind Shetty, Romesh Kaluwitharna and Kumara Dharmasena.

There will also be a SCCA XI represented by local California cricketers. In addition, there will be teams arriving from New York, Florida, Chicago, Northern California and Washington DC.

In past years, the LA Open has seen an average of almost 200 runs scored in each 20-over innings, creating much excitement and entertainment for spectators and attendees. "There is no other place in the US where you get to see so many good quality cricket players, assembled in one location, playing action packed cricket for three days," says Kamal Doshi, one of the organizers.

For those not familiar with cricket activities in United States, there are currently over 9,000 cricketers, some of whom have played international and first-class cricket for their home countries, now residing and playing in the US. Many of the US teams participating in the 2006 LA Open will showcase a collection of the best first-class players from their particular region.

The event will be held at Woodley Park Cricket Fields in Van Nuys, California, a site that offers four international-class cricket fields in one centralized location. Hamilton Brewart Insurance Services is the tournament sponsor and will present the Hamilton Brewart Trophy to the winning team. In its brief three-year history, the LA Open has come to be known as one of the best showcases for cricket in the United States.

Deb K Das is Cricinfo's correspondent in the USA