By Orin Davidson
As fans around the world key in in on the Indian Premier League (IPL), one of New York’s biggest cricket supporters is confident the game in America could attain Global significance in five years.
For more than a decade Syed Salman has been involved in almost every aspect of cricket here as administrator, sponsor, publisher and player, which is why he is bullish on the way forward.
“I give it five years for our national team to be competing at a level where the best world’s best teams are at because we have the resources both financial and human to fast forward to that stage,“ he states.
Having recently acquired One Day International (ODI) status by successfully qualifying for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Level Two series, the national team’s improvement is obvious.
And in creating history by defeating the higher rated Ireland team which has Test, ODI and T20 international status, in a recent ODI game, Salman sees it as evidence of America’s potential.
“Look at how we beat Ireland for the first time, things are happening,” he emphasized.
However, given the paucity of internationally approved facilities and current status of the national team, it might be a stretch to concur with Salman’s optimism, but the Internet Technology specialist and businessman, is adamant that America’s culture for success will influence the sport’s growth.
He feels that cricket’s popularity around the country is growing faster than ever and coupled with the business-oriented culture in the country, he feels the sky is the limit.
“Our systems in the schools are geared to produce fast development of skills in our young people in all aspects pertaining to life and for cricket it will be no exception,” Salman added.
The Pakistan-born official added that it is important that cricket is gaining popularity in schools around the country which with the growth of clubs and leagues, he sees the game trending in the right upward direction.
The huge multi-billon dollar market here in America makes the country unique for sports development, he said, adding that the issues of facilities are fast being taken care of.
“Right now, we have only one cricket specific stadium in Florida, but there will be others in New Jersey, Texas and also here in New York in the not too distant future as I understand it,” Salman stated.
“I also feel good about USA Cricket’s development trust in setting up academies for players and increased training for coaches from Level One upwards.”
He pointed out that USA Cricket’s association with the ACE group for the setting up of the infrastructural needs is vital.
Salman is also in high praise of the inaugural staging of the Minor League Cricket (MiLC) and American Premiere League (APL) competitions last year which attracted players from around the world. “ We had the highest number of foreign players in any one competition with a higher standard of play.”
He feels that despite the field conditions for the matches and streaming broadcasting not being comparable with the standard in the developed world of cricket, the series was a breakthrough for professional competition here.
On the planned much bigger Major League series down the road, Salman expects it to eventually rival the IPL.
Such predictions are coming from someone who has put his heart and soul in cricket for more than 14 years.
He has done administrative stints in the Commonwealth, Metropolitan and Brooklyn Leagues, providing sponsorship for competitions as well. Being versed in photography, Salman has given free service in that field to clubs and leagues along with coverage on his social media accounts, which he says has boosted the recognition of the said competitions.
“In Pakistan international cricket has resumed there after it was not thought possible following that terrible attack on the Sri Lankan team,” Salman said in emphasizing his optimism for the sport here. “Look at soccer, who would’ve thought it becoming so popular in this country. So why not cricket,” he states.