The 2020 exhibition edition of Minor League Cricket now has a primary presenting partner, according to a release by USA Cricket on Tuesday. Sistar Morgage Company, founded in 2002 in Troy, Michigan by Rajeev Ghandhi, will be featured as Minor League Cricket’s primary sponsor and will also see their branding prominently displayed on all Minor League Cricket team jerseys.
14 of the league’s 24 teams will play exhibitions this coming weekend in across a dozen games, with Saturday featuring seven games staggered across five different overlapping time slots. Atlanta Param Veers and Atlanta Fire will face off in a double header with the first game at 10am EST, and the second at 2:30pm EST, at Dalton, Georgia. Empire State Titans will face New Jersey Stallions at 10am EST, and then the New England Eagles at 2:30pm EST.
On the west coast, Silicon Valley Strikers start against East Bay Blazers at 1pm EST/10am PST at Morgan Hill Sports Complex, to then face Golden State Grizzlies at 5:30pm EST/2:30pm PST. Irving Mustangs and Austin Athletics square up for Saturday’s finale at 7pm EST/6pm CST at McKinney Cricket Ground in Dallas, Texas.
On Sunday, Philadelphia and DC Hawks join the action, facing off at 10am EST at the Evansburg Cricket Ground in the first of two games for the Hawks. At 1pm EST/12pm CST the Houston Hurricanes debut against Irving Mustangs at McKinney Cricket Ground, while the New England Eagles and New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers kick their exhibition season off at Keney Park in Connecticut at 2pm EST. DC Hawks play a second time against Empire State Titans at 2:30pm EST at Evansburg Cricket Ground, while on the West Coast, the Golden State Grizzlies cap off the day at 5pm EST/2pm PST against the East Bay Blazers at Morgan Hill Sports Complex.
All but one of the venues listed for the first weekend (Morgan Hill) appear to be on astroturf.
“I’m excited for the first game. I’m happy that I’m playing a little competitive cricket now,” Dominique Rikhi of the New Jersey Stallions told Emerging Cricket.
“I practice every week out there (at Idlewild), so I know the ground very well.”
Dominique has made a name for himself around the country with his elite fitness standard, and his NJ Stallions take on Empire State Titans in the first official time slot for Minor League Cricket.
Along with the match-up in Queens, the two Atlanta teams share the historic first slot. When asked if he’s considered the significance of being involved in the first official Minor League Cricket exhibitions, Sagar Patel of USA Cricket and Atlanta Fire responded, “Absolutely! I’m grateful that I’m able to be a part of something great.”
Starting off against their Atlanta neighbors, the Param Veers, creates potential for an instant rivalry.
“It will be competitive, but at the same time it will be friendly, because we’ve known and played with the players from the other team for a long time,” Patel continued.
On the West Coast, USA Captain and Golden State Grizzly Saurabh Netravalkar also expressed to Emerging Cricket his hope for the start of the league.
“It’s exciting to be having some competitive games finally, and I wish well to all the teams. I will love to enter the field after a long lockdown. It will be great exposure and a platform to shine for our aspiring youth and club cricketers all over the country and I hope this marks the beginning of a larger and cohesive professional domestic structure in USA.”
In spite of the well-documented struggles with Covid-19 in the USA, cricket has been played in parts of the country for much of the summer, though in other areas of the country, cricket has resumed only recently. Independent tournaments in Massachusetts, California and New York occurring over the Labor Day weekend helped prepare MiLC draftees for action, in some cases providing cricketers with their first action of the season. Austin and Houston MiLC franchises faced off in a friendly this past Saturday for an unofficial practice match. Following these two weeks of official Minor League Cricket exhibition games, the Morrisville Cardinals also plan to host Atlanta teams at Church Street Park for additional practice games over the first weekend of October.
Houston, as Emerging Cricket has reported, has three players currently in Trinidad for the Caribbean Premiere League or in the process of traveling back, and will test players prior to their first game on Sunday. Former Pakistan U19, Barbados Tridents ICC Americas pick, and Houston local Shayan Jahangir is eager to apply his experiences from CPL 2020 to Minor League Cricket.
“Hopefully my Covid results come out in my favor so I can play this Sunday against Dallas,” Shayan told Emerging Cricket, referring to Houston’s Covid testing protocols.
“I’m super stoked and looking forward to it.”
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