By Daniel Massey
Two weeks ago Nezam Hafiz was in the cozy confines of his favorite place in the world: the cricket oval.
Now the young cricket lover from Ozone Park who has represented national teams in both the United States and his native Guyana is among those missing after last Tuesday’s terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
While Hafiz did not take his stance in front of the wicket the Saturday before the disaster because of a fractured toe, he attended a match in Brooklyn, watching the sport he loved, his sister Sharon Adam said.
“That’s the last time I saw him,” said Adam. “I came over to my mom’s on Sunday, but he was out again, playing cricket.”
Hafiz, 32, an employee of Marsh & McLennan, was working on the 94th floor of Tower One when American Airlines Flight 11 slammed into the building.
Suzanne Samaroo, who has known Hafiz since he was a child in Guyana, said “trust me, everything revolves around his cricket. He called me Sunday and said his honeymoon might be on a cricket trip.”
Samaroo described her friend as 5 foot 9 inches with a medium complexion.
“He is a very friendly, caring person,” she said. “I had spoken to him Monday evening. I turned down his offer of coffee. I said, ‘Let’s wait until tomorrrow.’”
Hafiz began playing cricket in Guyana as a child, Samaroo said. He came to New York from the South American nation about eight years ago. Before arriving in the United States, he represented Guyana at the Under-19 level, where he served as a captain during the 1987-88 season.
Over his career, Hafiz has scored a number of centuries, the benchmark for batting excellence in cricket, including 113 runs in a 1988 match against Leewards Island for his best ever showing.
He represented the United States National Team on a trip to Canada in June and during a tournament in England last year. “He really has a love for the game,” said Shafiq Jadavji, who has played with and against Hafiz for a number of years.
In New York, Hafiz captained both the American Cricket Society team and the Commonwealth Cricket League’s inter-league team. Jadavji said the captain served as a role model to younger players.
Hafiz’s parents, two sisters and brother are hoping he will get to lead a team on the cricket oval again. His sisters, Sharon Adam and Debbie Ally, spent last Wednesday at the armory on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, where authorities had set up an information center for families of victims.
“It was a long procedure,” Adam said. “They were asking a lot of questions. There was a lot of paperwork. Maybe it’s going to help narrow it down. Maybe by his band or the clothing he was wearing. Anything to find him.”
Samaroo joined the search as well. “I’ve been everywhere, to every hospital,” she said. “I even asked to see the deceased list.”
Despite walking from hospital to hospital for more than 13 hours last Thursday, she was not giving up hope that her friend was alive.
“At the last hospital, one person found who he was looking for and the light got brighter,” Samaroo said. “That was the only one that found someone. I hope there’s more somewhere.”
Reach Reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.