New Cricket Field Holds Championship Game
Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world, and it's beginning to take root in the Tampa Bay area.
The Tampa Cricket League on Saturday held its division final games at Evans Park in Seffner - a facility that Hillsborough County spent $630,000 to build and open one year ago.
Tampa Cricket League President Niteesh Shetty said membership has increased since the park opened.
The league began in 2007 with only four teams. Today, the league has around 700 players participating on 34 teams, he said.
Shetty, who is Indian, said cricket has been a staple in his life. He said while Cricket is not as popular as baseball or football in the United States, it's revered by many in South Asia, parts of Europe and South Africa.
“Where I come from, India, it’s like a lot of people play it on the streets -- wherever they get places,” he said. “It’s like a religion, you can say. Cricket is huge, and there is a big fan following.”
In the Tampa league, many of the players are ex-pats from cricket-playing nations. Shetty said many of the fans are families and friends of the players, but that is beginning to change.
“It is slowly spreading, even the locals who don’t know about cricket will come to our games. They even cheer for the teams,” Shetty said.
To broaden the sport in the community, the Tampa Cricket League is creating a junior league for children. Shetty said the junior league coach is a current professor of the University of Tampa and a well-known cricket player, Pranjal Gupta.