South Florida is no stranger to the sport of cricket. It’s been a hub for Caribbean players to play for years. But the South Florida Premier Cricket League is gaining popularity and busier than ever, with matches every Sunday in Broward County parks.
Twenty-four-year-old Zachary Sattaur is the team captain for Florida Cricket Academy.
“You just see balls flying all over the place. I mean, it looks like a bunch of home runs, if you like baseball,” Sattaur said.
Sattaur is the fourth best batsman in the South Florida Premier Cricket league. He said he feels like he learned how to be a leader, from his coach, Wayne Ramnaraine.
“It’s just the fun, the entertainment, the strategy, everything that goes into it,” Ramnaraine said. “And the comradery, the sportsmanship...everything.”
Dressed in his thigh and leg pads, helmet and gloves, Sattaur said he feels like this sport has taught him so much.
“Taking leadership,” he said. “Taking responsibility on the field and off the field, leading from up front with the bat as well.”
Cricket first started in the United Kingdom in the 19th century, and was spread by the British to their colonies around the world, including the Caribbean.
Ramnaraine, from Trinidad, said his team is a perfect example of different cultures coming together with the help of a bat and a ball.
“Guyana, Trinidad, Pakistan, India, South Africa, our giant team is a complete mixture of everybody because the kids come in and they stay with us for a long period of time,” Ramnaraine said. “The average age of everybody here is like, 25, 26, and they’ve been with us more than 10 years.”
How long people play is another part of the culture of cricket. Most players are active in the sport, for most of their lives. Ramnaraine said it’s not something you can quit.
“You grow up with it. When you’re in the Caribbean growing up, there’s only two sports, either football or cricket. It’s in your blood,” he said. “It’s in your genes. Once you get a love for it, you don’t stop.”
Of course, by football he means soccer.
Aside from coaching, Ramnaraine runs Miramar’s cricket program, which starts with kids as young as 10. It’s the city’s way to branch out of the normal little league and pee-wee football options. And it’s free for anyone living in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Sattaur described cricket as a sport and culture that a player can’t stop loving.
“I grew up watching my dad play. He was from Guyana,” Sattaur said. “When he came here I was watching when I was little. About 10 years ago I picked up a bat and finally started playing.”
Now his dad comes to watch his matches every Sunday.
But how does cricket work exactly?
Players start on a circular field, called a pitch. Two batsman from one team try to hit a small ball, harder than a baseball, with a flat bat. They can hit it in any direction. Playing the field are all 11 players from the opposing team.
Ankur Kapoor is the coach for another team in the league, the Megablasters.
“It’s a very interesting game. Much faster than baseball. So, if I have to explain it, it’s a lot of strategy and a lot of thinking and a lot of hard work. So it’s like the NFL in a way,” Kapoor said.
Mahabir Puren has been playing the sport in Fort Lauderdale, and all around Broward since 1989. He’s helping coach the Megablasters with Kapoor and explains what the objective of a match is.
“That’s how you score runs, by hitting the ball and defending the wicket. And the bowler's job is to hit the wicket, or get a batsman to hit the ball in the air and get caught. If he get caught, he’s out,” Puren said.
The wickets are the three posts stuck in the middle of the field that cricket is famous for. If a batsman is able to hit all three wickets and knock smaller sticks — called bails — off the top of them, then his team wins. Or it’s whoever gets the most runs.
Cricket is a high-scoring game, with lots of action when teams play the short version, called 20-overs. There can be 150 to 200 runs in one game.
Brandon Dunbar also plays on the Florida Cricket Academy team. He thinks the stereotypes of what people think cricket is aren’t even close to the way the game is played today.
“All white pants, all like, from what you see from back in the day - like old-school-style cricket. It’s evolved so much from what it used to be,” Dunbar said.
Dunbar’s from South Africa and he used to play professionally in Europe. Now, he uses the routine of these Sunday matches all over Broward County to keep the game in his life.
“I say this is for the weekend warriors,” he said.
Ramnaraine has watched all of his the weekend warriors grow up on Sundays throughout the years. They’re like his kids — he even makes them sandwiches every game.
His hope is that he can keep teaching more kids in South Florida about cricket culture too, for years to come.
The South Florida Premier Cricket League is preparing for the finals at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Lauderhill on Nov. 19. You can watch other matches at parks like Brian Piccolo in Hollywood and Tradewinds in Coconut Creek.