New York, May 7: Cricket, the favourite sport of South Asians, has finally found a home in the land of baseball in the Bronx, one of the five boroughs of New York City.
The new cricket complex with 10 new cricket fields in Van Cortlandt Park makes up the largest site in the United States for the sport, according to city officials cited by the New York Times.
Designed as part of a $13 million renovation of a wide, grassy expanse of the park once used as a parade ground, the cricket complex reflects the growing diversity of New Yorkers and their pastimes, the US daily said.
On Sunday, more than 100 cricket players joined diplomats from countries including Jamaica and Britain to break in the new cricket fields.
"When you see fields like this, you want to play," Dolip Dhanpat, 40, a delivery driver who was waiting with his team to take a turn, was quoted as saying. "It's a blessing."
About 10 percent of the city's 8.2 million residents are of South Asian or West Indian descent, including a fast-expanding Bangladeshi population in the Bronx, according to an analysis of census data by Queens College.
With the new complex, the Bronx has a total of 18 dedicated cricket fields, more than any other borough, according to city officials cited by the Times. Brooklyn is next with 16 fields, followed by Queens, with 13.
While cricket has thrived in the Bronx, earlier the fields had to be shared with soccer, rugby and football teams, the Times said. Soccer balls often came bouncing into cricket games.
By contrast, the new fields sitting side by side have been carefully measured to regulation size and declared off limits to other sports, it said.
There is a drainage system to minimise puddles, and a newly posted map to mark the fields, lest there be any confusion.
The cricket complex took three years to complete, one more than planned, city officials cited by the Times said, because the grass seed did not take and had to be replanted.