Dreamcricket USA News

Cricket in Times Square

2009 Feb 17 by DreamCricket USA

Was that Harbhajan Singh on the giant TV screen in Times Square? Did I just see a cricketer in full attire attempting a cover drive towards Broadway?

Was that Harbhajan Singh on the giant TV screen in Times Square? Did I just see a cricketer in full attire attempting a cover drive towards Broadway?

Cricketer Sandip Patel pads up on 43rd & B'way!
A recent party hosted by DIRECTV brought cricket back to Manhattan after a long gap of 100 years. The venue of the party was the ESPNZone but the ground was Times Square. Men and women in cricket clothing were all over Times Square. One enthusiastic cricketer padded up and took stance at the intersection of 43rd and Broadway. Cricket had finally come full circle!

Time was when cricket was played across Manhattan! In 1739, an advertisement appeared in a New York newspaper asking for players for a match. In 1751, The New York Weekly Gazette and Post Boy reported that a match between New York XI and London XI was played at the Fulton Fish Market. That match was won by New York. In the early part of 19th century, cricket was played regularly near Broadway and Thirtieth Street.

The New York Cricket Club played cricket adjacent to some vegetable farms around midtown Manhattan. By 1844, the New York Cricket Club was renamed the St. George's Club with its home ground at the Bloomingdale Park on the site where the New York University Medical Centre is now located (East 31st near First Avenue).

It was here that Canada and the United States of America met in their first international on the 24th and 25th of September 1844. Historians believe that this contest is the oldest international sporting fixture in the world. This competition predates Ashes, the famed England versus Australia series, by nearly thirty years. It is older than the Americas cup (Isle of Wight, 1851), the Modern Olympics (Athens, 1896) and the longest running horse races.

Cricket was beamed from 11 screens across Times Square
On November 11, 1858, The New York Times reported that the construction of Central Park in Manhattan was progressing nicely. "On the southern end, where the grand Promenade or the Cathedral Walk is laid out, the work is in advanced stage. West of the Cathedral Walk, the cricket and baseball ground, which has very properly been first attended to, as it will be the most beneficial to the public, has been leveled and is ready to be laid down in turf. This piece of the park, 14 acres of it, will be in order next spring when the Grand Promenade with the Terrace and the steps leading to the lake will also be finished."

Central Park ca 1865
The cricket field at Central Park was opened in 1865 and became the new home ground of St. George Club. Cricket was played there for the remainder of the decade until baseball jostled it out of the Park. New York City was also home to a popular pub called "The Office," that attracted a cricketing and theatrical crowd.

By the middle of the 20th century, cricket had faded completely from New Yorkers' minds.

Cricket in Times Sq
The book!
For most, it became an insect and the only 20th century reference to cricket in Manhattan was the 1960 illustrated novel by George Selden - The Cricket in Times Square - about a musically talented cricket who arrives in New York City on a train from Connecticut and eventually makes his way to Times Square.

Fast forward to 2009. Cricket in New York is once again on a growth trajectory. According to Bassett Thompson, Cricket Commissioner of PSAL, 24 high schools will play the sport in New York City this summer.

In 2008, cricket also made a comeback in the New York literary scene, and it was not the story of a musically talented insect this time around. It was the story of a New York cricketer post 9/11. Netherland, the story of a Staten Island Cricket Club cricketer was included in the list of 10 Best Books of 2008.

And on January 28th, cricket finally returned to Times Square - made possible by the DIRECTV CricketTicket Launch Party. DIRECTV was celebrating its acquisition of rights to IPL and ICC tournaments - what better place to do that?