Local fans all but Shut Out of T20I Cricket Series
International cricket returns to South Florida with a big bang this weekend. Preceded by the success of the Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 series last month, on Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28 the world number 2 ranked team, India, and the T20 world champions, West Indies, will play two Twenty20 International (T20I) games at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Lauderhill.
Only this time unlike previous games staged at the stadium, the vibrancy of the local Caribbean community by all accounts will not be rocking in the park.
Lauderhill Mayor Richard Kaplan told National Weekly that as soon as the India/WI T20I series was announced earlier this month, city and Broward County offices were inundated with calls for tickets, priced from $75 to $150. Despite very local limited promotion, tickets for the weekend games are all sold out, before local cricket fans were even made aware of the event.
“I really think the ticket sales were delayed for too long, creating pent-up demand. Tickets went on sale on the internet on Monday and were totally sold out within hours. The organizers held back some tickets for sale at the event but based on the vast demand, they also sold these on the Internet. These went very fast as well. I couldn’t even get a ticket. I only received one through the generosity of the organizers.”
He regrets the price of the tickets may have precluded hundreds of local cricket fans from attending the games. “The quality of this series is similar to an NFL Super Bowl played in the region, where most of the tickets are purchased by wealthy fans from out of town.”
The Regional Park in Lauderhill is one of the best cricket facilities in the U.S, and according to Kaplan, it is poised to be the center of international cricket in the country.
Earlier this month officials of the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) announced the T20I series, with BCCI president Anurag Thakur hinting the possibility of the series becoming an annual event in the USA.
Both the BCCI and the WICB are cognizant of the opportunities for the success of international cricket in the U.S especially with the very large Caribbean and Indian Diaspora.
The Regional Park has a capacity for 15,000 spectators, but Kaplan said if required it can be expanded to hold up to 30,000 spectators.
Kaplan also said from information he has received, hundreds of visitors from across the US, and internationally, will be streaming into South Florida for the games. “This will be another tremendous boost for Lauderhill’s and the region’s economy,” reiterating the potential international cricket has locally and nationally.
Lauderhill and the US will also receive tremendous promotion from the series through live televised broadcast to millions of cricket fans in India and other cricket markets. In order to facilitate television broadcast live in India, this weekend games will begin unusually early at 10:00 a.m.
Both the West Indies and India are fielding very strong teams for the series. The West Indies team features stars like Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Rusell. The team has a new captain in Carlos Brathwaite of Barbados, who replaced two-time T20 champion skipper Darren Sammy. Other members of the WI team include Andre Fletcher, Samuel Badree, Jason Holder, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis and Johnson Charles.
The Indian team includes MS Dhoni (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Amit Mishra, and Stuart Binny.