USA April 27, 2007

Cricket's popularity growing in USA

It’s not often that the mainstream US press takes much notice of cricket, but a feature in The New York Times this week bucks the trend

It’s not often that the mainstream US press takes much notice of cricket, but a feature in The New York Times this week bucks the trend. Some of the writing is fairly predictable, but it does off a few interesting insights.

The sport of googlies and wickets, of five-day games and breaks for lunch and tea, has gained a toehold in this land of baseball and apple pie. Increasingly, immigrants from countries as diverse as England and Bangladesh are congregating in neighborhood parks, setting up pitches and reconnecting with lands left behind.

The report cites the success of the Atlanta Georgia Cricket Conference, which has has grown to 18 teams:

They don't come close to matching the influx of Latin Americans who have transformed soccer into an leisure-time phenomenon north of the border. But cricket has a strong following among those who emigrated from the former British Empire to the ex-colony that came up with its own bat-and-ball game.

And it concludes with an interesting report on a game between North Atlanta and the JP Gymkhana Cricket Club:

In the middle of the oval-shaped field, there's a 22-yard-long strip of packed dirt, which is where the bowler bounces the ball toward the batsman. Wickets stand at each end, the all-important wooden pegs that must be defended by the batting team. The outer boundary is staked out by small red tags, the kind the water company leaves when it's about to dig up a yard.

The North Atlanta team is a downsized version of the U.N. In addition to Bangladesh, the players hail from India, Pakistan, Jamaica and England -- a diverse group that puts aside cultural differences and any simmering rivalries. India and Pakistan may be blood enemies on the subcontinent, but they get along just fine in Dixie.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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