Cricket is a hugely popular international sport but can hardly be described as having global coverage. The International Cricket Council (ICC) the game’s governing body boasts only 10 nations as full members and 6 as affiliate members and at the highest level of the sport the game is confined to England, the Indian sub-continent, Australasia and South Africa. The sport began in Southern England in the 16th Century and spread to other nations with the expansion of the British Empire but has barely made an impact beyond these boundaries and so it is surprising to find that a new cricket complex has opened in the most unlikely of homes.
The United States
Team sport in the United States of America is dominated by baseball, football and basketball with cricket all but invisible but this year has seen the opening of a new cricket facility in the Bronx district of New York City. The $13 million development at Van Cortlandt Park features 10 cricket pitches side by side with renovated drainage and carefully seeded ground. The pitches are designated for cricket use only to protect them from being taken over by other sports and constitute the largest cricket facility in the country.
The opening of such a complex in the US may seem surprising until you consider that the Caribbean and Southern Asian immigrant community makes up 10% of the population in the New York area and they have brought with them a passion for the game that is being inherited by new generations and they need somewhere to play the game.
Sport for the Poor
In many ways cricket is the ideal game for poor communities as playing the sport in a basic form requires only the use of a bat, a ball and rudimentary stumps which could be fashioned from something as simple as plastic bottles. Better equipment like proper stumps, batting gloves and pads certainly helps but youngsters can learn the game and have great fun without the proper equipment if necessary. Simple games can be played in the street but what is really required is some open space and so the new complex will be a valuable and cherished addition to the Bronx.
The investment in the new pitches does make you wonder if the popularity of the game could spread in America. The answer is probably that it will remain the preserve of the immigrant communities as there does not seem to be much appetite for the sport in the nation as a whole. Soccer has gradually raised its profile in America which now boasts a reasonably successful national team but it would be strange to see the might of the United States taking on England at Cricket!
The game is probably too similar to baseball to really catch on but the increasingly sizable Caribbean and Asian communities should ensure that the game continues to be plaid across the nation in the future. It probably isn’t the next big thing but it is alive and kicking nonetheless