2014-04-04 / Columnists

Go Parks!

Go Park! Go Cricket!
By Matthias Augustin

Cricket at Baisley Park in Queens. Photos courtesy of Daniel Avila, NYC Parks. Cricket at Baisley Park in Queens. Photos courtesy of Daniel Avila, NYC Parks. Cricket is very much alive in New York City. It’s played in NYC parks in all five boroughs, mainly on weekends. Some of my favorite spots, which have dedicated cricket fields recently built or reconstructed, include Canarsie Cricket Field in Brooklyn at Seaview and Paerdegat Avenue North; Spring Creek Park at Gateway Drive off Erskine Street in Brooklyn; Idlewild Park in Queens at 223rd Street and Springfield Lane or Baisley Pond Park in Queens at North Conduit Avenue and Baisley Boulevard; Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx at Broadway and West 242nd Avenue to West 250th Avenue. In Staten Island, Walker Park is home to the oldest running cricket club in the United States – the Staten Island Cricket Club (SICC). They were founded in 1872 and have been playing in Walker Park since 1876, when the park’s name was Livingston Park.

For a look at a game close to home, try Rockaway Community Park, or travel just over the bridge to Marine Park in Brooklyn.

Some of the professional players I most admire, coming from the Caribbean, are Vivian Richards, Brian Lara and Garfield Sobers.

But there are cricket stars from virtually every country and corner touched by the British Commonwealth, which introduced the game all over the world, from Africa to Australia, Asia to Europe and the Caribbean, and, today, its fans have made it a staple in the United States and here in our NYC parks citywide. The season is from May to October, depending on weather.

I came from the Caribbean in 1984. When I arrived, I wasn’t aware cricket was played here at all until a friend said “I play for a team. Come and join my team.” I joined the St. Lucia Cricket Club and the New York Cricket League in the Bronx.

After six years, I joined the Somerset Sports Club in Brooklyn. Things are better now for cricket than they were then. At that time, cricket was not a widely known sport and the facilities were not too good. There has been tremendous innovation and improvements, from dedicated cricket fields to new ones on beautiful natural grass. It was bring your own chairs, and now some of the new cricket fields have bleachers. They are better maintained, and people come and there’s a great feeling about it.

The goal of cricket is to get batters out before they score. There are 11 people on a team. The teams play either 20 “overs” or 40 “overs,” so a game can pretty much last all day.

The rules are complicated. How do you “strike out” in cricket? Well, in baseball you can strike out or be caught or tagged. In cricket, the rules that get a player knocked out include catching, stumping, run-out, leg before wicket, and bowled.

When the game is going well, cricket players say “Everything’s clicking.” You’re playing at your best. Your shots come off the grass beautifully. You’re middling the ball just right. Your timing is good. All’s right with the world.

Equipment for cricket has also come a long way. Major retailers not only sell the traditional white clothes, cricket boots, and gear, but for modern cricket, as opposed to traditional cricket, clothing now comes in beautiful colors.

Three things everyone in the world seems to love are music, food and sports. So next time you walk by or drive by a game, stop and inquire. Cricket lovers are only too happy to share their love of the sport.

For more information about cricket fields citywide, go to www.nyc.gov/parks and search “Cricket.”

Go Cricket! Go Park!

Matthias Augustin is the Director of Brooklyn Construction for NYC Parks

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