Sweet Spot With Mike Sugerman: America's Oldest Cricket Club

July 12, 2019 - 5:00 am
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Last week’s women’s soccer finals isn’t the only World Cup holding people's attention. 

Millions are also about to watch this weekend another of earth’s favorite sports -- cricket. And thousands of locals are expected to be glued to their sets. 

With 2 billion followers, it’s said to be the world’s second most popular sport next to soccer.

“You cannot imagine the fan base back home,” said cricket player Majib Arab. “It’s bigger than religion,” agreed Prashanth Nanadvanam. 

Mostly popular amongst countries that were once British Colonies, mentioning cricket in the United States would have most people thinking of the chirping bug. 

But you may be surprised to hear that it is played and has a following in the United States, and it might be happening in a neighborhood near you. 

In this week's Sweet Spot, Mike Sugerman found one of 100 cricket games being played on any given Sunday in the New York Metropolitan area. 

The Staten Island Cricket Club, the oldest continuing cricket club in America, was established in 1872. Clarence Modeste learned the game in Trinidad and Tobago when he was five. Now 85, he is president of the club. “I fell in love with it then and it’s remained with me all my life,” Modeste said. His team speaks a combined six languages, ranging from Urdu, to Creole, and back to Hindi. But one language that they all have in common is cricket. 

What exactly are the rules of cricket? Majib Arab, a player on the team, said “Basically, you place the ball, and you hit the ball.” After that, you’ll want to run before the fielder throws it back to the wicket. You can go in any direction, 360 degrees around the field. 

As for the game time? Well, the games can last a while.

“The original games didn’t have an end.” Nanadvanam said. "Those were called the ‘timeless tests.’” The name seemed fitting as they were originally meant to train British soldiers for battle, the current version of the games aren’t timeless. They last five days, with breaks for tea and lunch. Recreational games last around four hours. And it’s a tough game--no mitts are used and players are throwing around a hard ball. 

Few Americans are at the park watching this match, except for Tom Sheratin and Jacob Stein. They heard about the World Cup, got interested, and sought it out. “It’s not that different from baseball from what I’m seeing,” Stein said. “It is taking a little, definitely some understanding but, I don’t know, I’m just trying to figure it out.”

One thing’s for sure--it is definitely a game of sportsmanship, hence the phrase: “It just isn’t cricket.”