Leagues hope to popularize cricket in U.S.

- Cricket is a very old game and it's pretty famous anywhere else besides the U.S.," declared Asad Roman, a player in the NYBCL.

Cricket is the 2nd most popular sport in the world. While the game is less familiar among most Americans, organizations like the "New York Bangladesh Cricket League" hope to change that.

"Now it's something that's becoming very competitive," said Dhritiman Choudhury, a team captain, "People are actually paying attention to it."

In the highest form of international cricket, matches can take five days. NYBCL games are based on a predetermined number of "overs" - 6 pitches equal 1 over. On average, these matches last about 5 hours.

"It's very similar to baseball, even though baseball copied cricket," said cricket player Mohammad Tanim.

Like baseball, the objective is to score more runs. However, in cricket, batsmen can hit the ball in any direction on the 360-degree field, and they get to choose whether or not they want to run.

"In baseball, you can have 8 terrible innings and then come in the ninth and hit a homerun and everyone puts you on their shoulders. But in this - no chance. You're out, you're out," laughed Bangladesh cricket icon, Yousuf Rezaur Rahman.

While there are nine different ways to make an out, it's often difficult. The innings only finished when 10 of the 11 batsmen are out or the offense simply declares they have enough runs. So how exactly do you score?

Rezaur Raham explained: "You have two batmen at the crease at the same time. Runs are scored when they change ends, which means they are running - they change ends, and they can run for as many runs as they want. The other way is like hitting a homerun."

The "homerun" in cricket is worth 6 points; unless it hits the ground first, then it's just 4. Yousuf Rezaur Rahman is one of the many faces eager to explain all of this to spectators. The former Bangladesh National Team star helped bring this league to the area with his friends about 25 years ago.

"I said no, no, no. If you want to play serious, I’m not in. If you want to have fun, I’m good, and that's what we did," said Rezaur Rahman.

The league has stayed fun at its core, but the level of competition has grown. It's now the 2nd largest league in North America with 38 teams across two divisions.

Rezaur Rahman has noticed the growth: "What I see today is the standard of cricket has gone up. The downside is that we don't have enough good playing surfaces."

While everyone in Flushing Meadows is happy to have a place to play the game they love, in reality, there are 700 players out here every Saturday and then another league here on Sunday. So players are hoping the local government will help provide funds to build regulated and well-maintained cricket pitches.

"If you don't have the proper surface, a player is not able to learn the skills in the proper way," added Rezaur Rahman.

NYBCL player Iftekhar Biplob noted, "I would say how we have designated fields for baseball or football, we don't have anything like that for cricket."

As they look to they look the future of the game, they're thankful for their present.

"We love the game, and we're so happy that we can do it in this country, as well," said Biplob. 

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