Where to watch cricket on Long Island

The batter gets ready to hit home plate

The batter gets ready to hit home plate during a cricket match at Point Lookout Town Park. (Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)

On a Sunday afternoon at the Point Lookout Town Park cricket field, about 15 men watch from the sidelines. When the batsman connects with the ball, there's no cheering or dancing around as in baseball. The men just politely applaud.

"Good hit," says Trevor Walke, a player from Forest Hills, Queens, who is watching the cricket match from a row of chairs in the shade at the edge of the field.

For the past hour, the two teams, Arsenal and Everest/ACS -- which stands for American Cricket Society -- have been playing in the midday sun. If the fair weather holds, they expect to be at it until 7 p.m. Traditionally, English cricket matches can last three to five days, the players say, although here on Long Island games are usually a mere six hours.

Until recently, it had been hard to find a cricket game, but the sport appears to be on an upswing, Walke says. In Queens, dozens of games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, and on Long Island, the sport is played at fields in both Nassau and Suffolk. "The game has grown in the number of teams and people participating," says Walke, who adds that his team has added 10 members in the past year.

PLAYING CRICKET

Though cricket is played with a bat and ball, it differs in many ways from baseball. Each team is made up of 11 members rather than nine. On a 22-foot-long "pitch" in the middle of a field, a bowler pitches the ball to a batsman, who tries to hit it and score a run. Each team takes its turn at bat, and each turn is known as an inning.

About 18 teams, including Everest/ACS and Arsenal, belong to the Eastern American Cricket Association, which is based in Nassau County, according to Zamin Amin of Valley Stream, the captain of Everest/ACS. Cricket is played from May through October.

Heckscher State Park in East Islip has three cricket fields. At Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, games often are held near parking fields 2 and 4. Cricket also is played at Bay Park in East Rockaway. Admission is free for spectators (although the park might charge a fee). Bring a chair or blanket for seating and water or other refreshments because there usually is no shade.

A SUCCESSFUL TEAM

Everest/ACS is one of the more successful cricket teams on the Island, having won dozens of championships over the years, according to the players. Amin, who has been playing since his team's founding 33 years ago, was a nationally ranked amateur and captain of the U.S. national team from 1990 to 1997.

Despite its glory-filled past, Everest/ACS currently is "in a rebuilding year," says Amjad Khan, 47, of Cold Spring Harbor. An immigrant from Kashmir, Khan has played cricket in England in games that lasted up to four days.

A GENTLEMAN'S GAME

Everest/ACS is a member of the USA Cricket Association and plays by the rules of the Dubai-based International Cricket Conference.

At cricket games, the atmosphere is relaxed, with good sportsmanship the norm. Yelling at umpires, throwing bats or other displays of temper are not allowed.

"You don't show disrespect of any kind," Amin says.

But all that gentility doesn't mean the players don't get excited about the game. "It's something that's been ingrained in us since we were little kids," Khan says. "It's in our DNA. We are very passionate about it because it helps us to learn teamwork and discipline. It's fun, and, like life, it has its ups and downs. One day you're a zero, next day you're a hero."

WHERE TO WATCH CRICKET

Cricket is played from May through October at Point Lookout Town Park (516-431-3900), Heckscher State Park in East Islip (631-581-2100), Eisenhower Park in East Meadow (516-572-0348) and Bay Park in East Rockaway (516-571-7245).


SOUND LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT

If you've never been to a cricket match and want to get a better understanding of the game, here are five basic terms to learn before going.

Bowler Akin to a pitcher in baseball, bowlers often have their own specialty pitches.

Googly A righthanded pitch with a clockwise spin that sends the ball in an opposite direction.

Over Similar to an at-bat in baseball, an over is six legal balls in a row.

Wicket A set of stumps and balls that are analogous to bases in baseball. Wicket can also refer to a pitch or dismissal of the batsman.

Wicket keeper He catches the balls pitched by the bowler.

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