BROOKLYN — Batsmen, bowlers and wicket-keepers have found a home in Brooklyn.
With 16 cricket fields and an estimated 1,000-plus Brooklynites playing in competitive cricket leagues, the brownstone borough is quickly becoming a destination for one of the world’s most beloved games.
"Cricket is absolutely becoming more popular in Brooklyn," said Kranthi Bayya, CEO of national cricket group Dream Cricket, adding that the Brooklyn Cricket League alone has 18 clubs and some 500 players.
Bayya said Brooklyn cricket enthusiasts are only limited by a lack of spots to exercise their bats, balls and stumps. Still, from behind the Picnic House at Prospect Park to the expansive grounds at Gateway Field, cricketers are managing to find places to play in the borough they call home.
DNAinfo New York rounded up a list of the official and best-kept-secret spots to play cricket in Brooklyn. And for those who are looking to get in on a more organized team, a slew of Brooklyn-based cricket leagues are also listed below.
Official Cricket Fields in Brooklyn
Brooklyn’s cricket hotspots are in Canarsie Beach Park, Marine Park, and Spring Creek Park. Cricketers from the New York cricket leagues and groups of enthusiasts playing pickup games can regularly be found playing in these South Brooklyn parks during the spring and summer months.
Canarsie Beach Park at Seaview Avenue and East 92nd Street in Canarsie has a total of two cricket pitches. In 2009, Canarsie Park opened a regulation-sized cricket field just in time for the Mayor’s Cup Cricket Tournament finals. Since then, the league has played many of their games in the field to compete for the title of "New York Cricket Champs."
Brooklyn’s largest park, Marine Park at Fillmore Avenue and Marine Parkway in Gerritsen Beach also boasts two cricket grounds. The New York Public Schools Athletic League plays their cricket games primarily at Marine Park. The league, now encompassing 29 teams, has at least 400 players. The teams compete on weekdays at 4 p.m. on various fields in the park.
Spring Creek Park at Gateway Drive off Erskine Street in East New York has two cricket grounds. It has been a cricket-playing Mecca since it opened in 2003. The Metropolitan Cricket League plays the majority of its games in the field complete with nearby public bathrooms for players.
Unofficial Cricket Fields in Brooklyn
Many Brooklyn parks do not have official cricket fields but have multi-purpose fields where cricketers can play. Pickup games can be found on these fields any day of the week as the warm weather begins.
Cricket players can be found immersed in serious games behind the Picnic House or in the Long Meadow at Prospect Park. Though official rules do not allow cricket at the park, many players find the fields big enough to play an impromptu game. A regular Saturday afternoon pickup game is rumored to take place behind the Picnic House.
The center field, fondly called the Dust Bowl, at Fort Greene Park is home to many pickup games. As summer approaches players claim the field and “Howzat!” can be heard as far as DeKalb Avenue. The new cricket club members at nearby Long Island University often practice in the park and will sometimes allow a straggler to join.
The newly christened Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park has a field that will accommodate cricket. Though all permits for official slotted times have already been claimed for this season, the fields are open to the public most mornings starting at 6 a.m. Check the park’s fields schedule for weekly updates.
Cricketers can also be found bowling and batting at Betsey Head Memorial Parkway in Brownsville, Red Hook Recreational Area, Floyd Bennett Field in Jamaica Bay, and American Legion Park in Canarsie.
Cricket Leagues in Brooklyn
There are many organized cricket leagues and clubs that play in Brooklyn. Most leagues fall under the umbrella of the New York Cricket League, which oversees six leagues that play in the Brooklyn area. Organizer Shiek Mohamed said most games are played at Marine and Canarsie parks in Brooklyn.
The overall league boasts more than 3,000 players with the youngest cricketers playing for the Public School League and the oldest playing for the Masters League, which has players 55 years old and beyond.
“Cricket is catching like fire in Brooklyn,” Mohamed said. “Especially with 28 teams of young people in our league, a passion for the sport starts at an early age."
Pioneer Cricket Club was formed to help “advance the game of cricket in United States of America, through sportsmanship, leadership, discipline and hard work,” according to the club’s website.
The club not only hosts players but also teaches coaching skills. It recently held a training for coaches under 19 years old at Gateway Oval in East New York. Though many games are played at Pugsley Creek Park in The Bronx, occasionally practices are held in parks in Brooklyn. To join up for this year’s season, contact organizers on their Facebook page.
The Metropolitan Cricket League, founded in 1879 the New York Metropolitan and District Cricket Association, is one of the oldest and most well known leagues in the country. The 2013 schedule was recently set with games held at Canarsie and Marine Parks in Brooklyn. Other games are held throughout the New York City area. To get involved check out their webpage with game schedules here.
NYPD Cricket was founded in 2008 as part of the New Immigrant Outreach initiative to help bridge a gap between the city's ethnic groups and the police force. The league started in Brooklyn at Gateway Cricket Ground, but organizer Sgt. Adeel Rana says this year the league has moved to Flushing Meadow in Queens. Still, Brooklyn players are more than welcome.
The league boasts 12 teams and hundreds of players between 14 and 19 years old. Signups are happening now and games start June 26. Practices and games are played during the week and are supervised by volunteer coaches.
“There is a lot of demand for cricket from Brooklyn players,” Rana said. “We accommodate any player with interest.”
Email email@example.com or call Sgt. Adeel Rana at 347-231-5799 for more information.
College For Kids Cricket League at Kingsborough Community College was created for children between 6 and 13 years old. It was launched in 2010 less than two miles from Marine Park. Children don’t need experience to play. In fact, the majority have never played before — many never having heard of the sport. The teams are co-ed.
“One would be surprised at how well most of the participants have adapted to the rudimentary techniques of the 'new' sport of cricket,” said coach Linden Fraser.
Signups begin on June 10. To find out more call 718-368-5050.
NYC Mayor's Cup Cricket was founded in 2011 and includes 11 sporting events, including cricket. The all-star cricket game is set for June 22 at Spring Creek Park in Brooklyn. The top high school cricket players from the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) will compete in the game for a chance to be named the "Best in the City." It’s too late for new players to compete in the All-Star game, but it promises to be a fun way to spend an afternoon watching cricket in Brooklyn.
Check out their Facebook Page for more information and schedules.
Dream Cricket, a national cricket league, has two Brooklyn teams called Brooklyn I and II. They compete against other New York City teams.
To find out how to get involved visit Dream Cricket’s webpage.