The sport of cricket is no stranger to the Borough of Brooklyn in New York City, as cricket can be seen being played across the entire borough, but more so in the Canarsie, Mill Basin and south west Brooklyn areas. Less than two miles from Marine Park; a staple of competitive cricket, lies the picturesque Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY).
Sitting on 72 acres of a peninsula waterfront locale, with Sheepshead Bay, Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean cradling it on three sides, and the real estate-rich Manhattan Beach community on the other side, the college is well-known for its very successful athletic programs throughout the CUNY college system, but hitherto unknown for cricket.
This summer, Kingsborough’s Continuing Education Director of Marketing and Corporate Training John Aaron convinced his programming colleagues to introduce cricket to the curriculum of its College For Kids (CFK) program. The full-day Monday through Thursday co-ed program is designed for 6 – 13 year olds and features an academic, as well as an active (primarily sport) curriculum.
Now, cricket stands alongside baseball, soccer, tennis, and swimming, as part of the college’s CFK active programming. The cricket program has attracted 31 girls and 49 boys between the ages of 8 and 13 years old. Some 95% of the boys and girls have never played cricket, while 50% have never even seen or heard of the sport. Coached by USA national cricket coach Linden Fraser and USA national female cricket player Triholder Marshall, the program is gaining traction in popularity among the young players and is expected to be included in the college’s fall CFK programming, on weekends only.
Coaching sessions are conducted indoors and outdoors, using cricket safety sport equipment designed for the age group in attendance. From all reports, the enthusiasm of the young athletes has been very encouraging, more so when the similarity between baseball and cricket is pointed out to the students.
Coach Fraser, who has extensive experience coaching players from youth to the under-19 levels and beyond, said it was a bit challenging at first getting some of the athletes to resist the baseball approach to swinging the cricket bat, as well as the motion of pitching as opposed to bowling. He however stated, “…one would be surprised at how well most of the participants have adapted to the rudimentary techniques of the “new” sport of cricket.”
Petite USA national female fast bowler Triholder Marshall, just back from the USA’s triumphant qualifier series against Canada, has been working primarily with the female students, in a friendly but competitive environment against Coach Fraser’s boys. So far the female players have been able to fare very well against their male counterparts.