Bijesh's blog

Cricket in the USA

As I write this, I just purchased my first ticket to a cricket game in the USA. Since moving to the south Florida area about 18 months ago, and in fact since moving to the U.S. about 15 years ago, this is my first opportunity to watch live cricket in the USA (although I was able to catch a West Indies Legends match in March, but more about that later.) Can’t wait for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) to come to Florida.

Being starved of live cricket is not so much fun. My only fix has been the matches that I was able to watch on my trips back to the UK, and also on a quick trip to Barbados. I’ve attend a few baseball games, over the years, but it’s not like cricket, even though most Americans think so. For a start, they only score at best 10 runs per game that makes for a very slow game. Although, at a baseball game, there is plenty to keep you entertained other than the game itself, this is something I think cricket can learn from baseball. Things like kids running bases, celebrity first pitches, contests and giveaways all add to the vibrant atmosphere in the stadium.

Finding cricket on U.S. telly is not easy either. I was surprised to see the IPL on ESPN (U.S.’s equivalent to Sky Sports) recently. Before that, I was resound to having to pay for live steaming, which until a couple years ago was hard to find. So, maybe things are turning around? Sports are such a big part of life here, parents run their kids around from one sporting event to another both during the week and on weekends. Is there room for one more sport? American football and baseball dominate, with basketball and hockey trying to keep up. I’m not sure there is room for more.

Back to the WI Legend’s game. Upon arrival to the ground, I was surprised to see the stands more than half empty. South Florida has a large West Indian community, and I was expecting to see packed stands to watch the likes of Walsh, Lara, Richardson and Sarwan. As always, it was great to get into that West Indian cricket feel, really no different to what we experienced in our trip to the Bridgetown Oval back in 2009. When I moved to south Florida, I was excited to find out that the only ICC approved cricket ground in the USA was only an hour south of my new home, but the Central Broward cricket ground in Lauderhill must be one of the most underutilized grounds in the world. Having been approved by the ICC back in 2008, only 3 international game have taken place here, the last of which was back in 2010.

But it was great to see old man Walsh running in, I would say streaming in, but at age 53, he was not as quick as I remember (although there is no mistaking that distinct bowling action.) And at the tender age of 46, the great man, Brian Charles Lara still had it, after coming in with a couple overs left, as Sarwan retired out, Lara was the man the crowd had come to see. Having played himself in for an over or so, he wound back the clock and hit the opposition bowlers around the park for a series of fours and sixes. He still looked as good as when I saw him play for Warwickshire some 20 years prior.

I was hoping to see more live cricket in the U.S., when the cricketing greats Warne and Tendulkar said they were coming to the USA for three T-20 games. I thought for sure this was my opportunity to see the live cricket I was craving. But no, they were more interested in making money than anything. Their selection of grounds made no sense to me, playing a game of cricket in New York City in November, where it would not be unusual for temperature to be below freezing and have snow on the ground seemed crazy. Not that it was all bad, I noticed that cricket was being talked about here in the U.S. for the first time, it created a buzz. A small one at that, but it was something.

Now with the CPL coming in July, is cricket is on its way to the back page of the US newspapers? Probably not, but I’ll be interested to see how much of the ground will be filled this time around.


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