South Florida at cricket epicenter for India-West Indies matches in Lauderhill
To get an idea of what the scene may be like when two of the world’s best cricket teams play this weekend in Lauderhill, start with Steven Taylor.
The young Davie resident, a rising homegrown star in a sport foreign to most Americans, found himself at the vortex of his dream last month while playing in a series of Caribbean Premier League matches at Central Broward Regional Park, which will also be the site of the encounters between India and the West Indies on Saturday and Sunday.
Taylor, 22, was wielding the bat as he does with power and grace for the Barbados Tridents in a match against the Guyana Amazon Warriors. The joint was rocking, the crowd chanting his name, spurred by a local DJ leading the cheers over the PA system.
“The crowd was saying, ‘Taylor, Taylor, Taylor, keep going, Taylor! That’s my boy!'” he said. “That was one of my best moments in cricket.”
Passionate crowds eager to recognize superlative efforts of the stars are the norm in cricket-rabid portions of the world, notably the Indian subcontinent, the United Kingdom and through much of the Caribbean.
The six CPL matches last month provided a taste of international cricket fervor in Lauderhill. The county opened the $10-million, taxpayer-funded stadium there in 2008, noting a growing Caribbean population in the region.
India-West Indies is a world-class match-up, and local cricket aficionados are hopeful this weekend’s games are indicative that baseball’s older cousin is gaining a foothold in South Florida’s crowded sports scene.
“If you’re a cricket fan, this is what you dream of watching, especially if you are a resident of the United States. You rarely get games of this nature outside of the cricketing nations,” said Jamaican-born Mark Johnson, a long-time Broward County resident who played for the U.S. national team. “People from around the world will be tuned in just to see the guys that they see on TV day to day. We’ll be able to see them live in person.”