Louisville aims for a spot on the world cricket map as new playing fields open at Hays Kennedy Park
The Louisville Cricket Club, part of the 42-team MidWest Cricket Tournament, has teamed up with Mayor Greg Fischer’s office to create a new playing facility at Hays Kennedy Park.
The facility is being named for Sunil M. Gavaskar, a legend in the sport who is known as “the Muhammad Ali of world cricket.” Gavaskar will be in Louisville for the fields’ grand opening at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 15.
Mayor Fischer said he expects the city’s $150,000 investment in the fields will reap great rewards.
“We are an increasingly global community, and cricket is already part of our city’s sporting landscape,” he said. “We hope the investment at Hays Kennedy Park will open the sport to more local participation, and the city to even more global opportunities.”
The facility at Hays Kennedy will be the first outside India to be named after an Indian player. In an interview with the Times of India before his visit to Louisville, Gavaskar, who represented India in international matches for more than 16 years before retiring in 1987, said: “It’s a wonderful honor to have a ground named after you, especially in a country where cricket is not the premier sport.”
The Louisville Cricket Club has produced a quick guide to the sport, which is one of the most popular sports in the world but is relatively unknown by many Americans. You can view the guide here.
Metro Parks and Recreation director Seve Ghose said the long-term goal is for Louisville to become a destination for national and even international cricket competitions, with plans to eventually build a pavilion and practice facilities.
Ten percent of the funding to create the new fields was raised by Louisville Cricket Club’s 50 active playing members.
“We are very grateful to Mayor Fischer and Seve Ghose, for their support,” said Jai Bokey, president of the Louisville Cricket Club.
“This is about much more than just creating a purpose-built space for Louisville Cricket Club to play,” he added. “Cricket is an important part of culture and community life in places like England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and throughout the West Indies. Having such a superb facility will help to bring people and business to Louisville from all over the cricket-playing world.”
Cricket, based on certain measures*, is the world’s third most popular sport after basketball and soccer. Originating in England before spreading throughout the British Empire in the second half of the 19th century, cricket also has a long yet relatively unknown history in the United States: the first ever international game was played between the USA and Canada in 1859, and the sport remained popular on the east coast until the early 20th century. Today, cricket is regularly watched by over 2 billion people, with the Indian Premier League being the world’s richest and most-watched competition.
About Louisville Parks and Recreation:
Louisville Parks and Recreation, a nationally accredited parks and recreation agency, manages 120 parks and six parkways on more than 13,000 acres of land, and operates recreation programs for all ages. Its mission is to create a City of Parks where people can play, learn, grow and be healthy. The mission is accomplished by taking care of all parks properties and creating new ones, by providing safe and diverse recreational programs, and by protecting our public lands and resources for future generations. www.bestparksever.com