Thursday, September 07, 2006

Not Cricket, Old Boyz!

In Ty Cobb's hometown as well as The Hood:

One of the fastest-growing games in the United States is, surprisingly, cricket.

The game flourished there for a while in the 19th century, but a combination of war and baseball sent it into decline. That is, until now.

Atlanta, Georgia is not a place you normally associate with cricket. It is famous for a fizzy drink and a baseball team called The Braves. So I was pleasantly surprised, on a recent visit, to hear the distinctive "thock" of leather on willow.

....Today, Atlanta boasts 23 teams, with 600 players competing in a well-organised league.
Though few people either side of the Atlantic know it, cricket has a long history in the United States.

It was once the national game and the annual fixture against Canada, which was first played in the 1840s. It is the oldest international sporting event in the modern world, predating today's Olympic Games by nearly 50 years. 1860 an estimated 10,000 Americans were playing the game. Presidents turned out to watch. When Chicago hosted Milwaukee in 1859, Abraham Lincoln was among the spectators.

....Today, thanks to a huge influx of immigrants from India, Pakistan and the West Indies, cricket is bouncing back.

There are 29 leagues nationwide, with an estimated 700 clubs and 50,000 active cricketers. As well as traditional bastions like Philadelphia and New York, where Mayor Bloomberg recently announced a $1.5m investment for a purpose built pitch in Queens, cricket is now being played in such unlikely places as Dallas, Texas, and Wichita, Kansas.

In Los Angeles, a team called Compton Homies & Popz uses cricket to teach "boyz from the hood" old-fashioned virtues like discipline and manners.

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