By Orin Davidson
If you enjoyed the Empire State Titans in the Minor League Cricket T20 exhibition series this year, then brace yourself for more exciting times in the future as New York’s lone recognized franchise team aims to take America’s cricket by storm.
Owner and founder Hiren Chauhan took the dive to invest in New York’s cricket, still in the infancy of development, and was rewarded as his team hit the ground running with its attractive brand of play, in the first official franchise series to hit the United States.
As a result Chauhan has major plans to make the Titans a storied franchise, not only in the Big Apple but in all of America.
Starting from scratch this year, the team paraded a variety of experienced and promising players including the likes of Guyana nationals Trevon Griffith and Gajanand Singh along with some popular Caribbean T20 campaigner Derron Davis out of Trinidad and Tobago.
They battled opponents from around the country in the inaugural Minor League series which brought much needed relief to starved fans, robbed of their regular fare of summer competitions due to the Corona virus pandemic restrictions.
Those restrictions are likely to be lifted next year and New Yorkers will have the opportunity to root harder for the Titans, scheduled to represent the Big Apple in approximately 15 T20 competitions put on mainly by national ruling body USA Cricket, throughout the country.
Chauhan intends to add more firepower to the teams’ rooster as well as giving young New York players more opportunity to build their games.
He might not be able to land superstars like Chris “Universe Boss” Gayle or Indian run machines Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, at this time, but Chauhan is already in negotiation to attract more formidable international campaigners in a push to make his team number one in the fledging franchise type competitions here.
Already the platform has been laid with the acquisition of former United States captain Steve Messiah as its chief selector, responsible for attracting the best talent available. Also on board this year was another top ex United States and Guyana player Kevin Darlington as head coach.
The fast bowler was subsequently appointed United States national junior coach, no doubt based in part on his work with the Titans. However Chauhan is confident, Darlington’s service will not been completely lost to his team when they spring into action again.
With T20 competitions flooding the international circuit where cricket’s fastest growing format is attracting leagues in every major nation, Chauhan wants the Titans to be America’s equivalent of the India Premier League’s (IPL) Mumbai Indians, the West Indies’ Trinbago Knight Riders or Australia’s Perth Scorchers, when this country’s cricket development hits the big time.
And who would have doubts, given the tremendous commercial market potential here and a progressive governing body in USA Cricket which has already joined forces with Willow TV network and Times of India newspaper as partners. Therefore the sky is the limit for T20 and the other formats, development-wise.
But much has to be done to take America’s cricket development to the next level especially with upgrading the infrastructure being made a priority, moreso in New York where the much needed stadium is still to be realized.
For Chauhan’s part he is already well into the hard grind getting the Titans up and running as staging the team’s Minor League home matches this year was doubly challenging given the pandemic restrictions.
Having to negotiate their way around the restrictions on crowd gatherings at grounds for the team’s home matches and enduring quarantine blues while traveling in and out of the city with the team having to venture to New Jersey, Boston, Washington, the Titans organizing team emerged with flying colors.
“We had no problems with infections of players and officials which was due to our commitment for excellence in everything we do,” Chauhan stated.
A native of Gujarat State in India which has become the world’s cricketing powerhouse on and off the field, Chauhan migrated to America with a solid background in Internet Technology and has rapidly carved a successful niche for himself here in the field.
He owns Empire State Cricket LLC Company under whose umbrella the team falls and already has been the recipient of awards by business and political organizations in the city.
Not satisfied with his success in business, he turned his attention to cricket to give back to society while making a contribution to the sport’s developmental thrust.
Given his impressive track record, it was not surprising when Chauhan’s Titans was awarded representative status for New York by USA cricket.
He said the intention is to structure the team based on New York’s diverse population which comprises residents from almost every country. “It is also an opportunity to help young cricketers develop their skills in a professional environment,” the IT expert explains, adding that “Empire State Titans embodies the spirit and nature of New York as it is a perfect example of diversity in skills and ethnicity.”
Already the Titans has acquired relationships with a number of businesses and given the high expectations for a proliferation T20 cricket series around the country in 2021 and beyond, New York fans are assured of a capable team to root for.
According to the owner, the overseas based players were highly enthused with their initial experience this year and are raring for another go while spreading the word especially in the West Indies.
So expect a slew of pros to follow the lead of Griffith, Singh and Davis for a shot at the Titans experience, come next summer.