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By Gokul Chakravarthy
An eye opener during a trip to Trinidad for Mayor Richard J. Kaplan of the City of Lauderhill, Florida, in 2002 became a wakeup call for the then City Manager, Charles Faranda and has finally evolved into a dream-come-true for cricket in the USA.
"We are delighted to be able to host New Zealand and Sri Lanka in these historic matches," said Mayor Kaplan. "The City and County have invested resources into the Regional Park with exactly this type of event in mind."
In 2007, the world cricket map had a new pin, its first serious one, stuck on the South-eastern coast of the vast land mass that is the continental USA that teemed with immense potential. It wasn’t until the end of 2008 that the promise was fulfilled and the quintessential promise land now had an ICC-approved cricket stadium.
It has taken another 2 years, a failed attempt to bring the One Day International World Cup of 2007 to the USA, the popularity of an exciting new cricket format – Twenty20, a visionary CEO – Don Lockerbie, a historic agreement with a major Test-playing nation – New Zealand – and the support of another major Test-playing country – Sri Lanka – to bring back international cricket of the highest quality to the shores of USA.
The Central Broward County Regional Park, simply referred to as “Lauderhill” within the cricket circles in the USA, is just 2 days away from becoming the nth stadium to hold an international match in the modern cricket era.
What began in all earnest in 1844 as the first-ever international cricket match in the USA has found its rightful, if a bit delayed, culmination in this much-anticipated series between two of the best exponents of the Twenty20 format of cricket.
Keeping in line with the way a vast majority of the Caribbean cricket fans, many of whom live in and around the Lauderhill area, prefer to enjoy their cricket, plans are in the works to organize music and entertainment during and after these matches.
The weatherman had a hot and humid weekend in store for the cricket lovers and players in Lauderhill with a 30% chance of isolated thunderstorms. With both the T20I matches between New Zealand and Sri Lanka, scheduled during the day, the thunderstorms shouldn’t be as big a factor as they would have had the floodlights become essential, as in a night match. And with the Twenty20 format only requiring 3½ hours from start to finish, it shouldn’t be too difficult to wait out any such storms and still have full and well-fought matches.
Much has been said and written about the potency of this format when it comes to its various compelling aspects that might just do the trick when it comes to breaking into what has been an elusive market for cricket – the USA. When the Stanford T20 was conducted so close to the USA, on the Caribbean islands, with tremendous success and the dramatic, if one-sided, Finale was televised live in HD on ESPN all across USA, a tiny spark of hope flickered, soon to be extinguished by the strong, cold winds of change that saw the Stanford empire collapse.
A new spark has been kindled and from all accounts will indeed grow into a proud flame over the coming weekend (May 21-23, 2010).