National Pastimes: Cricket's Worldwide Popularity Extends To City
Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, second only to soccer. And according to officials, the game is one of the fastest-growing sports in the city. NY1's Ruschell Boone filed the following report.
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It's the same drill every weekend. Dozens of men in white uniforms carry coolers and sporting equipment as they gear up for a day of cricket at Cunningham Park. Most are from Caribbean and South Asian countries like Pakistan, where the game is part of the culture.
"There are two things," said one player. "Number one, food and number two, cricket."
Cricket is a 16th-century English game that became popular in British colonies. The action happens on the rectangular strip midfield. Two batsmen stand on opposite ends in front of the wicket as the bowler tries to get the batter out by hitting the sticks.
Only batters wear protective gear. Fielders make barehanded catches.
"Just like a regular helmet, it protects you from getting hit," said one player. "Your pads, they go on your legs because as I said, the ball is pretty hard. It can almost break your bones."
"I've been playing since I was 3 years old," said another player. "So I've been playing since then. Then, I stopped when I moved to New York because at that time there wasn't that much cricket playing."
That was in the 1980s. Now, there are more than 30 cricket fields and leagues are popping across the city.
"We have so many teams from your country, Jamaica, West Indies and all the parts," said one player. "Guyana. India."
There are also 26 high school teams and even an NYPD youth cricket league with a dozen teams.
"It takes a lot of skill," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "I tried it with the bat. It's harder than it looks."
Some of the players said they are hoping that one day, cricket will be as popular as baseball. But others don't believe that will happen. They said Americans don't have the patience for the sport because it takes too long.
Some matches can go for up to 5 days. Still, these diehard fans love every minute of it.