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Montgomery College cricketers return to defend title

The Montgomery College men's cricket team begins its quest for a second title today at the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship in Ft. Lauderdale. And unlike last year, when they won without their school even knowing they existed, they've received an outpouring of support after my story on the team ran in Sunday's paper.

David Lott, the team's faculty adviser, reported that as of Wednesday morning, the MC Foundation, the school's gift receiving and grant allocating office, had decided to pay for the team's lodging during the tournament. A local cricket team pledged to kick in another $500 and a local cricket equipment provider has offered a discount. The team had been expecting to foot the approximately $4,500 in tournament expenses themselves, as they did last year. They already picked up the tab for uniforms and tournament registration.

This latest burst of assistance was good news, especially after this weekend, when it looked as if team captain Adil Bhatti would have to stay behind due to a family illness. He is one of the team's strongest players and serves a central role in keeping the team focused. His parents, however, felt he had put so much work into preparing for the tournament that he ought to go.

"It didn't feel right, not going with my team," he said.

Like most of his teammates, Bhatti works full time in addition to being a full-time student. He works as a security guard and used vacation days to attend the tournament. Other teammates weren't as lucky. To get the time to take the trip to the tournament, Amir Chaudhery worked from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and then returned for another shift from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at his job as a front desk supervisor at the Crowne Plaza in Gaithersburg.

Even if the MC cricketers fail to repeat as champions, they can look forward to being honored by the Montgomery County Council. According to an aide to Council president Nancy Floreen, the council plans to present the team with a proclamation, a fancy piece of paper bearing the county seal.

The team had the first day of the tournament off and spent it practicing and checking out the other teams. Their first match is today against George Washington. I will keep you posted on their progress.

By Annys Shin  | March 18, 2010; 9:59 AM ET
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