TAMPA – They meet every Sunday to play a sport that is known almost everywhere in the world – except America.
Cricket has an avid following around the world and a growing one in the Tampa Bay area, even though few realize it.
Delroy Bent is cricket coordinator for the National Cricket League, based in Odessa. His league plays every Sunday at Hamilton Park in Town ‘N Country, but there are teams throughout the Tampa Bay area.
Bent has played the game his entire life, having been raised in Jamaica, where cricket is bigger than baseball. He and players from all over the world – including players from Australia, England, Pakistan and India – play at Hamilton Park.
“It is part of our culture,” Bent said. “I’ve been playing all my life. I am from Jamaica and it is who we are and just about everyone plays it. It’s the most popular sport except for soccer.”
Bent said the club is always looking for new players and that experience is not necessary. Newcomers are welcome and there are three leagues, one for 50-and-over, one for 40-and-over and a 20-20 league. There are 10 teams in the Tampa Bay area. The small problem is, few people know about cricket or the league.
“We are completely a word-of-mouth league,” Bent said. “We know there are a lot of people who want to play, they just don’t know where we play.”
Bent said many of the players are workers who have migrated to the U.S. He is trying to get the word out that cricket is alive and well in America and is even starting a youth league in August.
“In Jamaica and other countries, it is so big,” Bent said. “We want everyone to show up.”
The Town ‘N Country matches are at Hamilton Park starting at 11:30 a.m. Jamaican food is everywhere and there is music all day.
“Everyone is welcome,” Bent said. “It’s a great time and a great chance to experience a new culture.”
For more on the National Cricket League, call (813) 446-3483.