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Young LI cricket players share the pitch with a World Cup team

Ajay Khandelwal, of Plainview, says he loves how you never stop learning how to play the game.

Jon Dowding

Jun 7, 2024, 2:32 AM

Updated 13 days ago

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Young cricket players on Long Island got to learn what it takes to be part of a World Cup team.
Cricket has been a central part of the lives of the players of the Queens United Cricket Academy way before the T20 World Cup came to Eisenhower Park.
Sahir Bhatia, of New Hyde Park, says his dad first introduced him to the sport and he’s been playing it ever since.
"It's taught me the power of teamwork and also like dedication and commitment,” he said.
Ajay Khandelwal, of Plainview, says he loves how you never stop learning how to play the game.
"You first have to really be inspired and you really have to be motivated and driven to pursue cricket because, in my opinion, one of the beautiful things about cricket is it has a very steep learning curve,” he said.
For many of these young players, cricket is more than just a connection to a sport.
"We really enjoy cricket because we also have a lot of connections to our own heritage," said Khandelwal.
The owners of Sports & More, which opened a little over a year ago in Hicksville, say this is the only indoor cricket facility on Long Island.
Co-owner Harleen Singh says the hope is by having facilities like this one, it will help cricket grow more in popularity.
"I'm not able to make it to the cricket team,” said Singh. “I want these guys to make it to the national side and represent the United States at some point. That's why we have a cricket academy here."
Before these young players could practice Thursday, another team borrowed their practice pitch for a bit.
The Netherlands National Cricket Team practiced at Sports & More in Hicksville ahead of their match in Eisenhower Park on Saturday. Sybrand Engelbrecht says the team feels great after a win against Nepal.
"I never thought I'd be playing cricket in New York,” he said.
For the young players, seeing an international cricket team practice in their facility was a welcome surprise.
"It's really cool to see my idols playing in the same place that I've been training for a few years," said Bhatia.
Members of the Netherlands National Cricket Team also had some advice for the young players who dream of one day playing in a World Cup.
"You need to have fun while doing it,” said Engelbrecht. “You need to learn perseverance, dedication, hard work, all of those kinds of words that get thrown around. It's real."
Logan Van Beek of the Netherlands National Cricket Team says cricket is a sport for anyone.
"It's one of those sports that doesn't discriminate at all,” he said. “If you've got the skill, you can find a position on the team and be successful."
Long Island cricket players say they hope the US cricket team's win against Pakistan will show the world that cricket has a future here in the US.


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