Thursday, 28 June 2012 10:51
All is set for the historic Digicel Twenty20 International cricket series between the West Indies and New Zealand. As cricket fans from across the U.S. and around the world converge on South Florida for the historic games.
Lead by Captain Darren Sammy, the West Indies team arrived in South Florida on Monday for training, gearing up for a friendly home crowd from South Florida's large Caribbean community. And included in the 13-member West Indies selected squad is outstanding Jamaican batsman and former West Indies captain Chris Gayle – arguably the world's top ranking Twenty20 batsman, who returned to the West Indies team after his controversial dismissal by the West Indies cricket board.
This is the first time the West Indies will play an international match in the U.S. The Caribbean community in South Florida and the U.S. is extremely enthusiastic to see their favorite players in the fast paced 20-over games – a sped up, more invigorating version of the sport.
Many of South Florida's hotels and private residences have been rushing to accommodate the flood of visitors, who have provided a much needed economic boost for the area.
Thelma Burger of Lauderhill was busy on Wednesday shifting around furniture in her home to accommodate some eight fans driving down from New York for the games.
"This game gives me a chance to fill empty bedrooms and make needed income," said Burger.
Cricket fans are hoping this Twenty20 series will mark South Florida as a regular international cricket destination. South Florida has been gearing up for international cricket fans for years, building the world-class Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, where this weekend's games will be played. The Park had missed out on the planned practice games for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. This recent New Zealand tour however has revived international attention for the park.
Whatever the outcome of the game, it is certain to be a significant boost for cricket, not only in South Florida but across the U.S., where the sport has gradually, but firmly, been making traction.
The West Indies are seeking some redemption against New Zealand, having lost three test and three one-day matches on their recently concluded tour of England. The team however is expected to rebound against New Zealand, thanks to the support of South Florida's large Caribbean "home" crowd.