New York Governor signs law to promote cricket in Empire state

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New York Senator Kevin Thomas, the only Indian-American elected to date to the state Senate, posing with a cricket bat testing out the newly-opened Cricket Pitch in Nassau County’s Eisenhower Park in September 2019.
(Photo: courtesy Sen. Kevin Thomas)

On December 10, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill recognizing the sport of cricket as an important part of the social and cultural fabric of New York State, and expands the State’s capacity to officially promote the sport.

The legislation (S.146/A.479) was sponsored by Senator Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), the first Indian-American to serve in the New York State Legislature, and Assemblymember Nily Rozic (D,Worker-Family Party-Fresh Meadows).

The law goes into effect immediately.

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Cricket which involves 11 players each, on a field which has a rectangular 22-yard-long pitch in the center, is the second-most popular sport in the world, watched and played by billions.

New York State has a special place in the sport’s history: the first recorded game of cricket in North America took place in New York in 1751, noted the press release from Sen. Thomas’ office. The game  is  rapidly gaining popularity across the United States and New York State in particular, thanks to the influence of immigrant communities from South Asia and the Caribbean, Europe, and Africa.  

In 2008, the New York State Department of Education created the country’s first competitive public school cricket program, which now has more than 30 teams.

In addition, for the first time in recent history, the United States  is scheduled to host The International Cricket Council Men’s T20 World Cup in June 2024.

“The sport of cricket goes hand-in-hand with the diversity and multiculturalism of our state, which is home to a number of thriving immigrant communities who grew up playing and watching cricket,” noted State Sen. Thomas, quoted in the press release. “As one of the most popular sports in the world, cricket represents a major opportunity for New York State – culturally, socially, and economically,” he contended, adding, “In fact, I believe that New York has a unique opportunity to become the official Cricket Capital of the USA.” He thanked the Governor for signing the legislation into law.

“Cricket is already a bona fide American pastime that brings everyone together and should be celebrated for that,” Assemblywoman Rozic said, and with it a massive audience it would bring economic development opportunities to the state. “With the growth of numerous leagues across New York, incentivizing Cricket activities through tourism would benefit the sport and recognize its place in New York,” Rozic added.

Some important individuals who have contributed to the popularization of cricket in the tri-state area also spoke on the latest law.

The USA Cricket Board Member Ajith Bhaskar Shetty thanked Thomas and Rozic, adding, “Senator Thomas’s bill not only promotes the game of cricket but also supports the thousands of players and fans here in New York.”

Youth Coordinator for USA Cricket Ashok Adikoppula is quoted saying he was very excited for the youth, “Now they will have an opportunity to pick another global sport as their career option and excel with the right support system through both USA Cricket and New York State Athletics Commission.”

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