USA March 25, 2009

College tournament in the USA

The USA rarely receives much publicity in the papers' sport sections

The USA rarely receives much publicity in the papers' sport sections. Every now and then, however, it makes an appearance, often owing to the plucky efforts of a group of fans. Or, in this case, a group of college students attempting to create their own tournament.

With only a few weeks’ notice, the five teams did what many college students do this time of year: they packed their sunscreen and headed to Florida. Nearly 60 players drove or flew at their own expense to the lush cricket pitches of Central Broward Regional Park. They played Twenty20, a version of cricket in which many stuffy traditions are left behind and matches are completed in about three hours instead of taking up to five days. The only custom-built cricket stadium in the United States stands in this park, but securing the 5,000-seat facility was far too rich a luxury for the tournament’s shoestring budget. Competing on the park’s manicured fields was already an upgrade over the converted soccer fields and tennis courts the players were used to.

“I wanted them to see the stadium to know what they are playing for,” said Lloyd Jodah, the founder and president of American College Cricket. “That is where we want to be next year.”

The idea for the college tournament came to him last year as he campaigned to have cricket included in the Olympics. Standing on Wall Street with a cricket bat in one hand and petitions in the other, Jodah, 50, an immigrant from Guyana who works selling health club memberships, met Kalpesh Patel, a Jamaican business student from the University of Miami.

Once Jodah heard how difficult it was for college cricketers to find regular games, he began toying with the idea of a nationwide organization for collegiate clubs and founded American College Cricket. He made a group on Facebook as a way to reach out to players.

“We always had the desire to play, but there was no real framework for us to get involved,” Patel said. “So this idea gave us the push to get involved with the most competitive form of the game.”

The New York Times has the full story.

Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo