Cricket Invasion At Floyd Bennett Field
By Askia Farrell
Jamaicans might not always get along with Trinidadians. Trinidadians, at times, may not agree with the politics of the Indians and Guyanese. But one thing that will unite all members of the Caribbean and international community — regardless of racial and political lines — is an afternoon of Cricket.
Such was the spirit behind the newly organized Floyd Bennett Cricket Club Inc. with its credo, "Unity Through Sports," which was evident at the inaugural game at Floyd Bennett Field, which is part of Gateway National Park, last Saturday that ushered in a new era of sports for New York City.
In the debut contest, the Indoor Cricket USA team from Richmond Hill, Queens edged the recently formed Floyd Bennett 11 127-125 in an exciting three hour match.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was present to preside over the opening events. He also officially proclaimed August 3, 2002, "Floyd Bennett Cricket Club Day" in Brooklyn.
"Brooklyn will be the Cricket capital of America," the borough president said. "It’s the fastest growing summer sport in New York and this is a wonderful location for it. These men worked very hard to realize their dream of making this field ready and did this with their own enthusiasm and volunteer efforts. I can see the day when this becomes a real spectator sport and Brooklynites of all colors, race and creeds will be here to learn and enjoy the game. I have every expectation that they will someday become world champions."
The sport, which is an ancestor of American baseball, is hugely popular throughout the West Indies, Europe and Australia — and Brooklyn, where there are weekend games during the spring and summer in Canarsie Beach Park on Seaview Avenue, as well as Marine Park on Avenue U.
"Our goal is to take cricket to the next level," said Guyana native Gyanda Shivnarain, president of the Floyd Bennett Cricket Club, Inc., who with his vice president, Gordon Puran, and treasurer, Richie Pirsen, provided the sweat, equity and money to transform an area of landfill and forest into a "cricket field of dreams."
Shivanrian began the club four years ago and it now has nearly three dozen member teams with players from such countries as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Guyana, Trinidad, Barbados and Jamaica.
He credits Jonathon, Gaska the District Manager of Community Board 14, and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer for their participation in making the league a reality.
"Right now there are 300 fragmented teams playing in New York that have yet to attain professional status," added Shivnarian. "People are dying to see that. Hopefully this will become a clearinghouse for International Games."
Teams playing cricket at Floyd Bennett Field, which is part of the Gateway National Recreatioin Area, are required to pay insurance, security and cleanup fees.
The cricket club president sees the halftime of future matches to be a dominant setting for politicians to get their message to an audience of hundreds from the rapidly increasing Caribbean community in Brooklyn. In addition to Markowitiz, political notables at Saturday’s premiere match included Congressman Anthony Weiner, State Senator Malcolm Smith, Gaska, Pheffer, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Assemblywoman Michele Titus, Councilman James Sanders Jr. and South African Consulate General Ivan Vosloo.
Saturday was also a dream realized for many local cricket players including Peter Jolly, captain of the Floyd Bennett 11, who is originally from Dominique.
"I’ve been in the U.S. for 30 years," he told the Canarsie Courier, "and have been promoting cricket not only for the adults but to youths. We’re trying to get it taught in the schools because we see that as the first place to promote this sport in the United States."
Canada has recently joined the International Cricket Council, which boasts Australia, Bangladesh, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe as full members. All dreams and aspirations are pointing toward the United States doing the same in the very near future.
If Saturday’s match was any indication, all signs point to first stop Brooklyn, next stop, the world.