The 2014 New Inning Foundation Claude Worrell Best USA Cricket Ground award goes to the Indianapolis World Sports Park (IWSP) Cricket complex. The award will be given to the Indianapolis World Sports Park management and will also recognize the role of Mayor Gregory Ballard and the City of Indianapolis in the creation of Indyyyyyyï¿½?s world class cricket complex at the IWSP.
In 2013, DreamCricket.com launched an award for the Best Cricket Ground in U.S. as part of the New Inning sponsored USA cricket awards.
The award was named after Claude Worrell, the former president of Southern California Cricket Association, whose efforts contributed to the formation of the Woodley Cricket Complex, home to USA’s finest cricket grounds.
The 2014 New Inning Foundation Claude Worrell Best Cricket Ground award comprising a plaque is given to a league, club, or a parks department that is involved in the creation of a facility that is magnificent, well maintained and of the highest playing standard.
The 2014 New Inning Foundation Claude Worrell Best USA Cricket Ground award goes to the Indianapolis World Sports Park (IWSP) Cricket complex. The award will be given to the Indianapolis World Sports Park management and will also recognize the role of Mayor Gregory Ballard and the City of Indianapolis in the creation of Indy’s world class cricket complex at the IWSP. The previous winner of the award was the City of LA Recreation and Parks Department and the SCCA for their work with the Woodley complex.
Until 2008, Indianapolis was just a remote outpost on USA’s ever expanding cricket map. Nobody thought of Indianapolis as a cricketing destination. However, Mayor Gregory Ballard of Indianapolis had a vision for cricket that was truly incredible.
Ballard, a retired Marine was convinced that cricket presented a unique opportunity to his city. "I want to establish the North American Cricket Tournament," he told a reporter from The Indianapolis Star in 2008. "We could create it," he said, "It would be ours."
The city was already the home of the Indy 500 and served as the headquarters for USA Track and Field, USA Diving, USA Gymnastics, NCAA and the NFHS. The $5.3 Million World Sports Park was launched to serve as a home for international sports such as hurling, Australian rules football, rugby and lacrosse, with cricket as the centerpiece.
Following a visit of the cricket stadium at Indianapolis’ sister city Hyderabad in 2013, Ballard said, “Cricket is not exceptionally strong in the U.S. right now. I aim to change that.” He added, “When people around the world think of cricket, I want them to think Indianapolis.”
“This is our commitment to international sports. We want to send signals to the world that Indianapolis is a place that you need to be looking at. We adapt to everything, we receive everybody and we are an extremely inclusive city.”
Ballard was criticized by his political opponents who called the cricket field a boondoggle. Speaking about the backlash, Annette Harden park manager at World Sports Park told Indianapolis Recorder, “It’s my job to really program these fields to earn revenue. I always tell people ‘cricket is only a small portion of what we’re doing,’ but the media spun it as just a cricket field.” For his part, Ballard remained unperturbed and continued to support the field.
International curator Mark Perham was brought in from New Zealand to prepare the pitches. Perham, who has over 30 years of turf experience, has worked on international cricket venues including Eden Park and Dunedin. Perham is also credited for his pioneering work in development of portable pitches and technology. Local turf consultant J&D Turf of Indianapolis was tasked with maintaining the fields.
The field has Test-match standard drainage and irrigation, and a separate synthetic turf wicket sits adjacent to the main ground. The park’s practice facility features six synthetic and natural turf lanes. Site screens are rolled in from a nearby warehouse when required. The outfield is world class. “It's a full sand carpet outfield which is pretty much the world's best standard practice for building outfields,” Perham told Peter Della Penna of ESPNcricinfo earlier this year.
The ground was completed in 2014 becoming only the second facility in the U.S. certified for international play. In May of 2015, the International Cricket Council (ICC) hosted the ICC Americas Division One T20 tournament at the World Sports Park. This month, ICC Americas will hold a cricket combine in Indy.
The World Sports Park does not yet boast of changing rooms or a pavilion or indeed any of the necessary infrastructure to host ODIs or international T20 fixtures. What it has going for it is that it is a world class venue and it is affordable, especially in the context of USA cricket - practice cages cost $25 per hour for all six lanes and the entire cricket complex costs $1,180 for a single T20 fixture.
Pictures Courtesy: ICC Americas