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Cricket Comes to Houston

Cricket Comes to Houston
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By Rad Rich

Cricket in Houston! Driving in downtown Houston on a Wednesday night. The traffic could be for many things. The Houston Rockets basketball team in town, or people just getting off work. No, the crowds tonight are for cricket.

Yes! International Cricket has made its way back to the Houston area. Some of the world’s former best players are in town to show how great the sport of cricket is to the world. Or at least to Houstonians!

The match at Houston’s Minute Maid park  is second in a three city tour across the United States. The first was at Citi Field in New York City on the seventh of November. Houston was the second, and the final match was in Los Angeles on the 14th on November. The New York match boasted an estimated twenty thousand in attendance to watch Warne’s Warriors beat Sachin’s Blasters by six wickets.

The hope is to bring some of the biggest stars ever to play the sport in a team format to spread the game here in the United States. Shane Warne (one of the best known bowlers in the history of the game of cricket) along with Sachin Tendulkar (another one of the biggest names in the sport before retiring) organized this event.

“I got together with Sachin 13 months ago to talk about organizing this tour. We talked to other legends of the game and came up with a plan to do this three match tour,” Warne said after the match. “We have had success in having clinics and teaching the youth while also doing a lot of promotion for the game. Hopefully, the game will get bigger and you’ll see the United States in the next Cricket World Cup.”

IMG_0044[1]Cricket  is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players each on a field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard-long pitch. The game is played by 120 million players worldwide, making it the world’s second most popular sport. Each team takes its turn to bat, attempting to score runs, while the other team fields. Each turn is known as an innings (used for both singular and plural). The bowler delivers the ball to the batsman, who attempts to hit the ball with his bat away from the fielders so he can run to the other end of the pitch and score a run. Each batsman continues batting until he is out. The batting team continues batting until ten batsmen are out, or a specified number of overs of six balls have been bowled, at which point the teams switch roles and the fielding team comes in to bat. The format played for the three tour matches was T20 ,meaning they play 20 overs with each team batting once (also lasting three hours).

Sachin Tendulkar, known as the greatest cricket player of all time, represents India. He is the only player to have 100 international centuries, and the first player to have a double century in a one day international. His name is bigger in South Asia than some of bigger known stars around the world. He is so popular in his home country that he has to have an escort where ever he goes and his name is always in the gossip news. Most of those in attendance are here to see him play.

You have to take gradual steps. You are not going to get forty-five thousands Americans watching cricket but it has to have a start. If we can get two percent Americans watching that is still a start. For years cricket was not played here. Now the whole idea now is to try to motivate as many young kids to pick up the cricket bat. To which we been doing. There are guys from American teams coming to train. I think this is the seed for something great in this country.

For the match itself, Warne’s Warriors finished 262-5, wining the match in Houston by 57 runs. They also went on to win the final match in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium by four wickets. In that winning the three match series ended three games to one against Sachin’s Blaster’s.

The key is will the series come again to the United States? Warne was upbeat about coming back.

“I sure hope so, as we where treated first class in every way here.”

But the crowd made up mostly of South Asians was at twenty thousand in Houston. There was even less in New York. Though the crowds where passionately loud, some left when Tendulkar came out of play.

Cricket is in the parks of Houston and you can see it at the city run parks over the city, but it has to become more diverse and get more Americans to come out.  This tour is a start but if it does not come back it will be another blip that Americans ignore as a whole.