International cricket comes to South Florida

Organizers hope to lure baseball fans

By Neki Mohan - Anchor/Reporter

LAUDERHILL, Fla. - Americans have been slow to embrace or understand cricket, but the first international cricket game to come to South Florida hopes to change that.

Called the "sport of kings," cricket is as foreign to Americans as a monarchy. Still, for the hundreds of young athletes who play in South Florida cricket leagues, it's a tradition.

Player Javed Sukar said his friends don't get it.

"They think I'm crazy. They think I play croquet or something," Sukar said.

Sukar's family is from the Caribbean, as are many of the young cricketers from the Worldwide Cricket Academy of Lauderhill. On Thursday, they got to do drills with international cricketers in town for the USA's first International Cricket Council-sanctioned event, New Zealand vs. the West Indies.

"The U.S. has got a lot of very good sportspeople. They're natural athletes, and I'd say if they took cricket seriously, they would be very good at it," said Mike Sandle, manager of the New Zealand cricket team.

The cricket match this weekend at Lauderhill's Central Regional Park is a type of cricket called T-20 cricket. The matches are three hours long, versus the traditional five days of cricket matches.

"It's a fast version of cricket, so hopefully that will be appealing to the American people, and maybe they can relate it to baseball a little bit more," Sandle said. 

West Indies captain Darren Sammy said the more exposure the game gets, the more fans will come on board.

"Soccer took a long time to really take off, catch on, here, so it's a start," Sammy said. "Once you have a start, it is an opportunity."

Sukar said playing the game is a source of pride for him.

"My dad played it when he was young, and when I could walk, he gave me a bat, and after that, it was all about cricket," Sukar said.

The two day matches will be played Saturday and Sunday at Lauderhill's Central Regional Park.

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