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New York suburbs prepare for historic T20 World Cup amid cricket boom | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: A towering stadium with 34,000 seats and a precisely trimmed field of soft Kentucky bluegrass is nearing completion in Long Island’s Eisenhower Park, set to host one of the world’s premier cricket tournaments, the T20 World Cup, next month. This venue is part of a historic event, marking the first major international cricket competition in the US.
On a recent Saturday morning, young cricketers were already active on a makeshift pitch elsewhere in Eisenhower Park, demonstrating the sport’s burgeoning popularity in the area.
Parmanand Sarju, founder of the Long Island Youth Cricket Academy, expressed his excitement about the new stadium. “When we started more than a decade ago, there was no understanding of cricket, at least at the youth level,” said Sarju, who started the academy to teach his children the sport he played growing up in Guyana. “Now they’re building a stadium here.”
The T20 World Cup aims to elevate cricket’s status in the US, similar to the impact soccer experienced following the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Retired Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt, an honorary ambassador for the T20 World Cup, visited the nearly complete stadium on Wednesday along with members of the US cricket squad and former New York sports stars.


Akash Khargie, 8, left, learns proper bat holding and wicket position in front of the stumps. (AP Photo)

Ahmad Chohan, president of the New York Police Department’s cricket club, highlighted the significance of the event. “The World Cup is a historic moment,” said Chohan, whose team also plays at Eisenhower Park.
Despite being the second most-viewed sport globally, cricket has limited presence in the US. USA Cricket reports that over 200,000 Americans play the sport across more than 400 local leagues. Major League Cricket, which launched last year, includes a New York franchise that currently plays some games in a Dallas-area stadium, also a World Cup venue.
Venu Pisike, chairman of USA Cricket, believes the T20 World Cup will be pivotal for the sport’s growth in the US. “Cricket is predominantly viewed as an expat sport, but things will look very different in the next 10, 20 years,” Pisike said. “Americans will definitely change their mindset and approach in terms of developing cricket.”
Eisenhower Park will host half of the World Cup matches in the US, including a highly anticipated game between Pakistan and India on June 9. Other matches will be held in Texas and Florida, with later rounds in the Caribbean and the final in Barbados on June 29.

Cricket has a long history in the US, particularly in New York. The sport was once more popular than baseball in the mid-19th century, but its growth was stifled by exclusive British-only cricket clubs. The sport saw a revival in the late 20th century, fueled by immigration from cricket-loving nations.
Anubhav Chopra, co-founder of the Long Island Premier League, is among the 700,000 Indian Americans in the New York City area. “For me, cricket is life,” said Chopra, who has tickets for all nine games at Eisenhower Park. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The stadium’s modular structure at Eisenhower Park will be dismantled after the World Cup, but the cricket field will remain, providing a “world-class” foundation for local teams and potentially a future professional team, said Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.
With the T20 World Cup on the horizon, New York’s suburban cricket scene is set to gain unprecedented visibility, potentially transforming the sport’s future in the United States.
(With inputs from AP)

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