By Orin Davidson
The weather is ideal, the fans are eager and with league cricket action already underway, it is time to push the promotion of cricket to mainstream New York.
As a result an exhibition T10 game will add to the excitement within a week that will feature popular local players, held under the auspices of well-known New York State Senator Kevin Thomas.
Chief organizer, USA Cricket director for New York Ajith Bhaskar said, the clash will feature representative teams Indian Blues and Pak First matching skills at Eisenhower Park, Nassau County.
Jaladh Dus will captain Indian Blues while Umer Farooq will lead Pak First in the showdown scheduled for May 27.
Many of the biggest hitting batsmen in the Tri -State Area will be in action and the game is expected to attract a huge gathering given the popularity associated here with the shortest form of cricket.
With the sport’s following in New York comprising primarily immigrants from popular cricket nations around the world including India, Pakistan and the West Indies, the objective is to break into the mainstream, moreso in New York which has the biggest market for sports in the entire United States.
But New York still has a long way to go to meet the requirements in facilities and infrastructure to take the game to the next level, which is why the initial step is to boost interest.
Bhaskar laments that New York doesn’t, have even one cricket specific facility inclusive of a turf pitch despite possessing some of the country’s most talented players and a wide population of active players.
“It is a pity right now we have good players who don’t have the opportunity to play consistently on turf pitches to bring out the best in their abilities”, he stated.
It is why Bhaskar and USA Cricket are working tirelessly to fast forward the necessary development needs by acquiring partnership deals with among others the American Cricket Enterprise (ACE) group which has endeavored to build six stadiums around the Unites States including New York.
Getting the politicians to buy into the popularization of the sport seems promising at this stage, as Bhaskar has already secured the support of New York State Assemblyman Charles Fall and Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. They have promised help in acquiring property to develop the cricket facility.
Now, the addition of Senator Thomas is another step in the right direction as his involvement in the promotional game comes on the heels of him a creating a bill currently sitting in the senate to help boost cricket’s development.
The Empire State Cricket Bill, tabled by Thomas is being considered and if passed will result in additional benefits for the sport.
Thomas has strong connections to cricket having been born in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), now a major venue for high profile world competitions including the T10 League series. It is the most popular competition of its type, last staged in January and February this year.
The senator who happens to be the first Indian- American to serve in New York, emigrated as a 10-year-old and after acquiring a law degree from Western Michigan Cooley Law School, practiced privately then decided to dive into politics. He defeated Kemp Hannon to represent the 6th District in 2018 and is currently Chairman of the Committee on Consumer Protection.
Among his accomplishments in the Senate is helping pass legislation requiring public schools to teach Asian American history.
Hopefully his Empire State Cricket Bill will be just as successful.
The promotional game, titled the Senator Kevin Thomas Cup, will start at 5pm and a host of other political and business personalities in the city are expected to be in attendance.
With the two shortest formats of cricket, the T20 and T10 types becoming increasingly popular in New York, Bhaskar said the focus has not wavered from the 50 overs type format for which the United States acquired status to compete recently, under his watch as Chairman of USA Cricket’s Strategic Committee.
The Bangalore, India- born Bhaskar anticipates a full summer of cricket action this year in the Big Apple, with the popular Minor League series a main fixture on the calendar. As New York is returning to a state of normalcy and crowd restrictions outdoors being lifted following 14 months of reduced activity due to the Corona virus pandemic, the Senator Thomas Cup game is eagerly anticipated.