Another U.S. cricket league is planting its wickets in North Texas with the launch of the National Cricket League—introducing “sixty strikes,” the short, fast-paced form of the sport, to fans across the country.
Based in North Dallas, the National Cricket League is launching with six teams including the local Dallas Wolves as well as the Atlanta Archers, Chicago Hurricanes, Houston Stars, Las Vegas Vipers, and Los Angeles Legends. The teams’ “sixty strikes” matches will last around 90 minutes, featuring “power hitting” and lots of scoring.
The NCL’s launch was first announced in September at an event featuring Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson; NCL CEO Azhar Qasmi; Dallas business executive Arun Agarwal, who’s serving as NCL chairman and advisor; and Haroon Lorgat, former chairman of the International Cricket Council.
“This will be a Dallas team. When we say Dallas, we mean Dallas—not Arlington, not Frisco,” Agarwal said in September. “We’re proud to create another team to represent our city.” The CEO of Dallas-based Nextt, Agarwal is also president of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board and co-chair of the Indian American CEO Council.
Cricket has 30 million fans in U.S.—and 2.5 billion worldwide
“If you aren’t already one of the 30 million cricket enthusiasts in America, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the sport,” Mayor Johnson said in September. “Sports present unique opportunities to bring together people of all backgrounds under one roof. They strengthen communities. They generate excitement. And they foster civic and national pride.”
The NCL’s first league tournament will be held December 19-29 at Broward County Stadium in Lauderhill, Florida, with an inaugural Dallas tournament coming next May. In addition to cricket, the “nine-day, nonstop tournament” in both cities will feature more than 30 performances from celebrities around the world.
The NCL’s launch follows the 2022 launch of Major League Cricket, whose backers include local investors Anurag Jain and Ross Perot Jr. and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. DFW-based Major League Cricket played its first season last summer with key matches in the newly redeveloped Grand Prairie Stadium. That other league is focused on cricket’s Twenty20 format, a different shortened version first introduced in 2003.
Inaugural local tournament—and Bollywood-like performances—to be held in Dallas’ East Oak Cliff
The NCL’s inaugural local event will be a “nine-day, nonstop tournament” in May 2024 at Roland G. Parrish Park in the Cadillac Heights community of East Oak Cliff in South Dallas. The $6 million, 25-acre park—named after the noted Dallas restaurateur and philanthropist—had a groundbreaking in November and is slated for a construction start next summer.
The May 2024 tournament will be the first event for the NCL Dallas Wolves and will feature international players, coaches, and mentors from around the world.
“The Dallas Wolves will proudly represent the city,” NCL Chairman Arun Agarwal said in a statement. “It was important to us to that the first tournament be played in Dallas. We have players from all over the world, but we represent our home—Dallas. We’re excited to bring cricket to the city. South Dallas is the perfect home.”
Where ‘Coachella meets cricket’
A lot more than just cricket will be in store at the tournament: Organizers say the May 2024 event will also feature more than 30 performances from celebrities worldwide.
Agarwal describes next May’s NCL event as “Coachella meets cricket.”
“Games will be followed with concerts/performance from top artists from Bollywood,” Agarwal said in a statement. “It will be a sensory overload with sports and entertainment.”
First Dallas tournament was announced at late November event
Late last month, Dallas elected officials and NCL representatives gathered at the site of Roland G. Parrish Park—near Cedar Crest Blvd. and Morrell Avenue—to announce the upcoming May 2024 tournament.
Dallas Park and Recreation Director John D. Jenkins, Harrison Blair of Dallas Park and Recreation Board District 4, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn King Arnold, Councilmember Kathy Stewart , and Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett were on hand for the announcement. The officials placed much of their focus on the positive economic impact the tournament will have in spurring revitalization in the area, by creating the temporary home of newly constructed cricket grounds for the May 2024 event.
“Dallas is big on sports—youth sports, adult leagues, professional sports,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Sports of all kinds bring communities and people together. Dallas Park and Recreation is thrilled to host this national tournament at Roland G. Parrish Park. Bringing cricket to southern Dallas creates valuable economic and social opportunities for families and businesses.”
“With the city’s popularity as a sports hub, we hope that other groups see that Southern Dallas is experiencing a renaissance with new green spaces and recreational facilities and venues that make it ideal as a sporting destination and ideal location for events,” Jenkins added.
Other well-known athletes attended the event to celebrate and welcome Dallas’ newest sports team including NBA player Kurt Thomas,
Also attending the event to welcome Dallas’ newest sports team were former Dallas Cowboys players Greg Ellis and Larry Brown (MVP of Super Bowl XXX), former Dallas Maverick and longtime NBA player Kurt Thomas, and NASCAR race driver David Starr.
Pursuing ‘revitalization’ with help from a ‘wildly popular sport’
NCL CEO Azhar Qasmi is excited by what his league can do on the pitch—and for the community.
“We want to be a part of the revitalization within the South Dallas area and to be a part of the community, bringing a mix of sports and entertainment aimed at attracting a diverse audience while creating a unique atmosphere for the matches,” Qasmi said in a statement.
“Dallas is a hot spot for sports right now,” Qasmi added, “and the NCL is excited to be part of this momentum and energy, bringing the NCL’s first tournament to the city while introducing many new fans to this wildly popular sport.”
For more information about the league, the tournament events in May, and tickets sales, you can visit nclcricket.com.
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