Windies say "hello" to Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida – In what’s being hailed as the first sanctioned cricket matches in the United States, teams from the West Indies and New Zealand will face off in south Florida this weekend.
“It’s always good to be part of history,” said Darren Sammy, captain of the West Indies team. “What will be better for us is if we can win these two games here and create our own history.”
Saturday and Sunday’s matches will bowl off the Digicel Series for the two teams. After the south Florida match-ups, they’ll go on to compete in the Jamaica, St Kitts and Antigua. The teams will use this weekend’s exercise as part of their preparations for the ICC T20 World Cup to be played in Sri Lanka in September.
The matches are expected to attract a crowd of 16,000 to Central Broward Regional Park, home to the only cricket stadium in the United States certified by the International Cricket Council.
“Bringing the games here is going to create an economic engine and it’s going to be the stepping stone for future games,” said Albert A. Tucker, vice president of multi-cultural business development for Broward County.
It’s not the first time professional international cricket has been played in South Florida. In 2010, the field at Central Broward Regional Park hosted an exhibition series between New Zealand and Sri Lanka which ended 1-1.
“Both teams are evenly matched, it’s a good opportunity for us to see how much progress we’ve made in the last 12 months against a very competitive New Zealand side,” said Ottis Gibson, West Indies Head Coach. “The place is new to both of us, and that’s why it’s a good opportunity.”
Although it is neutral territory, it is predicted that West Indies will have greater support from the fans. Greater Fort Lauderdale is home to one of the largest Caribbean communities in the nation with more than 500,000 between Broward and Palm Beach counties.
“We have large Caribbean supporters, it would be good to come here and put a smile on their faces,” said Sammy.