The inaugural Minor League Cricket season is almost underway with 27 teams across 21 different cities competing in more than 200 Twenty20 games. This tournament is set to be the most extensive cricket league that the United States has ever seen. The 27 teams are broken up into the Eastern, Central, Southern, and Western divisions based on geographic location. Opening weekend is scheduled to take place from July 31 to Aug. 1.
Today’s preview covers the Southern Division, featuring six teams: the Atlanta Fire, Atlanta Param Veers, Ft. Lauderdale Lions, Florida Beamers, Morrisville Cardinals and the Orlando Galaxy.
The Atlanta Fire could be the team to beat in this division, with two international players and four current players on the USA Cricket Men’s National Training Squad. The Fire set down a marker by winning the LA Open last month. The team will be led by Corne Dry, a former South African Under 19 international who played at the 2012 U19 Cricket World Cup. Dry is an all-rounder expected to open the bowling and lead the fast-bowling contingent. Other key players include Amila Aponso, who last played for Sri Lanka in the fall of 2018, and two current contracted USA Cricket national team players in Aaron Jones and Steven Taylor. This season, the Atlanta Fire’s home venue will be the Atlanta Cricket Fields in Cumming, GA.
The Atlanta Param Veers, based out of Rydal, GA, boasts the Southern Division MVP from last season’s exhibition games, Darpankumar Patel, who will hope to continue his form from last season. Neive McNally has also joined the team after being on the New Jersey Stallions roster last year, an all-rounder who adds serious depth to the Param Veers roster. Mark Deyal is a wildcard player from the Caribbean, who is also a part of the St. Lucia Zouks rosters for the 2021 CPL and will only be available for the first two weekends of the season.
The Ft. Lauderdale Lions is one of three teams from the Sunshine State. The Lions’ home venue is the Broward County Stadium in Lauderhill, FL. Some players to watch are Rayad Emrit, Kyle Phillip, Timothy Surujbally, and Roy Silva. Emrit is a wildcard player who is also the Captain of St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots in the CPL and will only play the first two weekends of the season. Kyle Philip is a young fast bowler who looks to lead the team and make a run in the U.S. men’s national team. Surujbally and Silva are both veterans over the age of 37 and have plenty of USA national team experience.
The Florida Beamers will be based out of Maq Cricket Stadium in Delray Beach, FL. The Beamers have yet to take the stage, as the exhibition matches in Florida were canceled last year due to COVID-19. The team is led by Monank Patel, a current USA men’s national team top-order batsman. Zishawn Qureshi Is a left-arm spinner who looks to translate his performances in other domestic competition to Minor League Cricket.
The Orlando Galaxy feature Timroy Allen, a wildcard and former USA national team player who returns to action domestically after a brief hiatus following an international appearance in 2019. Brothers Duane and Amahl Nathaniel are expected to form the backbone of the team. The Orlando Galaxy will be playing home games at the Silverstar Recreation Center in Orlando, FL.
The Morrisville Cardinals have a versatile blend of youthful experience. Jaskaran Malhotra will be captain and lead the charge with the bat. Malhotra is a former USA national team vice-captain. Siva Kumar is a former Indian first-class seam bowler and looks to take charge in the bowling attack, having missed the MiLC exhibition games last year due to injury. The Cardinals have four current members of the U19 USA Cricket national team training squad including Rohan Phadke, the Southern Division’s leading bowler from the 2020 exhibition games. The team is expecting plenty of home-crowd support this season at Church St. Park in Morrisville, NC.