CHICAGO — Walk by Warren Park during the weekend, and you might see people playing a sport that will catch your attention immediately.
Cricket. Yes, in Chicago.
It's like entering into another country — a country where cricket is everything.
Immigrants from India, Pakistan, Kenya, West Indies and Jamaica come together to play the second-most-watched sport in the world at Warren Park, 6601 N. Western Ave.
While this might seem absurd to Americans, these immigrants are making it work. Mainstream or not.
Played with a bat and ball, cricket is similar to baseball in the sense that batsmen score runs and once everybody in the team gets out, the other team bats to outscore the team that batted first.
Cricket in Chicago has picked up over the last 10 years with the launch of the night tournaments. Played after 6 p.m. every day, they gave players a chance to finish up their work before putting on their jerseys and walking out to the ground to play the sport they love.
The Chicago area has more than 100 teams and six recreational leagues. American Cricket Conference and Midwest Cricket Conference are the popular ones.
Raees Nizami, the president of the Illinois Premier League Cricket Conference, has been visiting schools like Mather High School and Stone Academy to raise awareness about the sport among kids between ages 8 and 19.
“Kids love a sport which is new and mysterious and once they develop an interest at a young age, it is easy to get them to keep playing the game as they grow old,” Nizami said.
The International Cricket Council is working toward improving the state of cricket in Chicago. The council met with representatives from the Chicago leagues to help with funding and sponsorship for tournaments in the Chicago area.
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