The inaugural season of the Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship presented by Sling TV begins this weekend, with 27 teams across 21 different cities competing in more than 200 matches across the country. Set to be the most extensive cricket league that the United States has ever seen, the 27 teams are divided into four divisions (Eastern, Central, Southern, and Western) based on geographic location.
Our series of season previews begins with the Eastern Division, comprising the New England Eagles, New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers Cricket Club, New Jersey Stallions, Empire State Titans, Manhattan Yorkers, The Philadelphians and the D.C. Hawks.
Based out of Keney Park in Hartford, CT, the New England Eagles will open their season in the Sunshine State taking on the D.C. Hawks on July 31 at 2 p.m. at the Maq Cricket Stadium. The Eagles will be looking to combine old and new in 2021, with the Eastern Division MVP of last year’s MiLC Exhibition Matches, Assad Fudadin, returning to the Eagles as their Wildcard player for the 2021 season. He will be joined by high-profile off-season recruits Akshay Homraj and Derone Davis who will be looking to form a formidable partnership. Homraj, a current USA Cricket national team contracted player, will be looking to prove his fitness as he returns from a finger injury sustained earlier in the summer.
The Empire State Titans are one of the two teams based in the Big Apple, playing at Idlewild Park in Rosedale, NY. There is a strong Caribbean flavor to their roster for the 2021 season – with no less than four players having past CPL or West Indies Under-19 experience. Trevon Griffith will be the man to watch with bat in hand, whilst their bowling attack will be led by Navin Stewart and Damion Jacobs. The Titans will get their season underway against the Ft Lauderdale Lions at Broward County Stadium this Saturday (31 July) at 10 a.m.
The newest team in the division, the Manhattan Yorkers are based in New York City, with their home ground at Canarsie Park in Brooklyn. They will be hoping to see the best of wicketkeeper-batsman Smit Patel before he departs for the CPL after the second weekend, with experienced campaigners Andre McCarthy and Gajanand Singh to provide firepower and stability to the Yorkers batting line-up. The Yorkers will make their competition debut against the Orlando Galaxy at the Broward County Stadium at 2 p.m. on July 31.
Dane Piedt, Sunny Sohal and Adil Bhatti will be crucial for the DC Hawks as they look to take top spot in the Eastern Division this season. Sohal, who will captain the side, will lead a batting department that contains two of the brightest young prospects in the US, Ritwik Behera and Ishan Sharma. With the ball, the hopes of the team from the Capitol will lie in their spin department, with the recently relocated Dane Piedt and Sarbjeet Ladda to lead the Hawks bowling attack. They will take on the Florida Beamers in their opening game of the tournament on July 31 at the Maq Cricket Stadium (10am EST), with the team calling Veterans Memorial Park in Woodbridge, VA their home ground for the 2021 season.
The New Jersey Somerset Cavaliers Cricket Club is one of most identifiable teams in the US domestic cricket scene, and will be looking to continue their fabled history in the Minor League Cricket competition. To do so, they will be looking to some old trusted hands in Xavier Marshall, Kennar Lewis and Chandrapaul Hemraj to lead the way with bat in hand. A player to watch will be all-rounder Karima Gore, who impressed at the recent USA Men’s National Team camp in Los Angeles with significant contributions with both bat and ball. The Cavaliers will first face the Atlanta Fire on July 31 at 2 p.m. at the Atlanta Cricket Fields.
Jumping across town, the New Jersey Stallions will also play their home games at Howe Athletic Complex in Somerset. They will be led by star off-season recruit Jasdeep Singh, who will also be looking to another new addition, South African Justin Dill to provide a spark with both bat and ball in hand. Dominique Rikhi and Jon-Ross Campbell will lead the way with bat in hand, along with Saiteja Mukkamulla who starred at the USA Cricket Under 19 Championships earlier this year. The Stallions will open their account for Season 2021 against the Morrisville Cardinals on July 31 at 2 p.m. at the Atlanta Cricket Fields.
Rounding out the Eastern Division, The Philadelphians will travel to Atlanta Cricket Fields this Saturday (31 July – 10am EST) to get their season underway against the Morrisville Cardinals. They will be looking to overcome some challenges in doing so, with a number of key players unavailable due to ongoing travel restrictions. In their absence, The Philadelphians will be looking to Jonathan Carter, Jonathan Foo and Jeremy Gordon to guide their chances, while Usman Ashraf will be looking to recapture the form that saw him debut for the USA national team back in 2018.