Monday, Dec 05, 2022
Outlook.com
Silicon Valley

The "Foreign" League

After computers and infotech, South Asians have another claim to fame—teaching cricket to the Yankees

The
Gauri Gill
The "Foreign" League
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

But then, cricket matches are no longer a rare sight on the verdant parks and playgrounds in Silicon Valley. The influx of immigrants, mostly infotech professionals of South Asian origin, has seen the game's popularity, and visibility, in the Bay Area grow in leaps and bounds. There has been a veritable explosion of players who periodically leave their computers and cubicles and can be seen playing cricket religiously on weekends. Says former Indian Test player Abid Ali, who migrated to California in the early '80s: "The game has come a long way here in the past 20 years. Those days, we didn't even have proper grounds or equipment."

Indeed. And it's not only Indians who're bitten by the cricket bug. Every year for about six months, hundreds of enthusiasts from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and England gather at different playgrounds in the San Francisco Bay area to play the gentleman's game. There are about 750 players with the Northern California Cricket Association (ncca)—a 109-year-old non-profit organisation which helps organise the three-division cricket league—who turn out for about 28 teams from 19 clubs in northern California. The matches are played on 14 grounds in the Bay Area, with more than a little help from local cities, schools and the Parks and Recreation department. Each team plays 16 league games and play-offs each season. Within the ncca, there are two tournaments—The Bank of India Cup and the Price Cup. Besides the ncca tournament, there is also the annual National Inter-League tournament, organised on the Labour Day weekend. "Top teams from all over the US participate in the game. Last year, it was won by a combined team from Garden State (New Jersey) and Washington DC," says 'Laks' Sampath, a 43-year-old software engineer and the ncca president.

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