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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK


Americans bowled over by cricket

Cricket fever: Thanks to the Cricket World Cup

By BBC Entertainment Correspondent Tom Brook in New York


Tom Brook: "The Americans are now hooked on cricket"
In New York, the Cricket World Cup has induced a manic rush of excitement, mostly amongst immigrants and British Commonwealth ex-patriots, which now make up almost ten percent of the local population. They're hooked on this international contest.

Cricket fan Shahbano Aliani says "It builds up and gets you going. You get into the game."


[ image: American fans now hypothesise as much about cricket as they do baseball]
American fans now hypothesise as much about cricket as they do baseball
But what has really got fans excited is an ambitious plan to promote cricket, long relegated to second class status in America, by building a twenty five million dollar international standard cricket stadium in New York City.

"This will be a jump start for cricket in North America," explained Max Shalkat from the World Cricket League. "People will be able to come and see cricket the way it is played, the way it is enjoyed by people in the British Commonwealth countries."

And other people connected with sport in New York are equally excited.


[ image: Max Shalkat is hopeful cricket will make an impact in America]
Max Shalkat is hopeful cricket will make an impact in America
Sports commentator Kenneth Pooziba enthused: "We would love to have a cricket pitch here in New York City. This is the sports capital of the world. We're the most international city in the world. We think cricket belongs here."

Even with the full support of the city authorities, cricket faces a tough and uncertain future in America. Most people here know little or nothing about the game, but those who do tend to regard it as an eccentric British past time.

Some locals I spoke to on the street proved this theory. One told me "I don't know anything about cricket. I'm American. We don't have cricket here. I've never heard of it." Another thought cricket was a type of bug.


[ image: Kenneth Pooziba believes New York is the home of all sport]
Kenneth Pooziba believes New York is the home of all sport
But cricket's American promoters remain undaunted. They claim the game is becoming more popular with the World Cup matches gaining big audiences and new converts.

One of these new converts is Mustafa Jaffrey. "This proves to people that cricket is a huge, huge sport here. It makes people realise that when you step out of America, this is the biggest game in the world, next to soccer and the Olympics."

Still, it is going to take a lot of effort before wicket, lbw or googly, terms understood by cricket fans in the rest of the world, mean anything at all in America.



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