Cricket tournament a big hit for Nassau County


The International Cricket Council’s Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 Tournament proved a bit hit in Nassau County, highlighted by the much-anticipated and sold out India-Pakistan match June 9.

County Executive Bruce Blakeman called the event, which kicked off with a practice match June 1 and concluded 11 days later with the United States taking on India at Eisenhower Park, “the Super Bowl on steroids.”

Cricket is the second most-popular sport in the world behind soccer and the world’s third most-watched sporting event behind only the FIFA World Cup and Tour de France. It was introduced in the United Kingdom during the 16th century. It has since grown in immense popularity in South Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Southern Africa and the West Indies — many parts of the globe that have been influenced by British imperialism over the centuries.

The T20 tournament, which is both the youngest and shortest version of international cricket, featured matches — usually lasting around three-and-a-half hours — played this month not only in East Meadow, but also in Dallas, southern Florida and the West Indies. All eight matches in East Meadow began at 10:30 a.m., to align with mid-afternoon television audiences in Europe and prime-time slots in South Asia.

The pitch at Eisenhower Park was shipped in from Australia, and kept in Florida during the winter months before being dropped in the temporary, modular stadium, which seated more than 34,000 fans.

Every seat was filled for the India-Pakistan rivalry match with tickets going on the secondary market for a minimum of $1,000 after fees. Large viewing parties were held in Seaford as well as in Queens at Citi Field, with India fans celebrating a 119-113 victory following several weather delays. Matches between those two nations usually attract massive audiences. More than 400 million people watched the India-Pakistan 2011 World Cup battle. That’s more than triple the viewing audience of the most recent Super Bowl.

This year marked the first-ever appearance in the tournament for the United States, which pulled off one of the sport’s biggest upsets of all-time June 6 in Dallas with an overtime win against Pakistan. India defeated the U.S. in the East Meadow finale before a crowd of more than 31,000.

The U.S. is led by Aaron Jones, Steven Taylor, Nitish Kumar, Shayan Jahangir, Corey Anderson, Harmeet Singh, Shadley Van Schalkwyk, Andries Gous, Monank Patel and Jessy Singh.

The tournament brought international attention to Nassau, which hosted a number of international dignitaries from countries like Pakistan, India, Canada and Bangladesh. It also attracted fans from around the globe.

Kalyan Gopaluni attended the U.S. victory over Canada in Dallas, where he resides, and traveled to New York for two matches, India-Pakistan and India-U.S.

“I’m a huge cricket fan and play in a cricket league,” Gopaluni said. “I’ve been looking forward to this tournament for a long time. The atmosphere at India versus Pakistan was electric. The stadium was shaking. I think they did a great job as host.”  

Virginia Talati, from Georgia, and her soon-to-be 8-year-old son, Hasmukhal, who has been playing cricket for five years already, flew in from Georgia to attend the finale at Eisenhower.

“We flew up last night and going back home tomorrow,” she said. “We’re really excited. My son asked last week if we can go see a match and we made it his birthday present.”

The tournament generated a large amount of revenue for the county, which Blakeman is expected to announce at a later date.

Borrelli’s Italian Restaurant saw business boom each day of the event during a normally slow time, 2:30-4:30 p.m., owner Frank Borrelli said. Parking allowed for up to 50 cars and fans not only saved $10 compared to the Nassau Coliseum lot  rate but also received a $10 food voucher most days.

“You could see from all the different license plates and from the customers I’ve spoken to, this attracted people from all over the country and the world,” Borrelli said.

The U.S. advanced to the tournament’s Super Eight stage after its match against Ireland in Florida was washed out June 14.

The championship match takes place June 29 in Barbados.