Cricket doesn't register in Florida

ANDREW ELLIS
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2012

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OPINION: As soon as you step off the plane it hits you that you are not in Christchurch any more.

It's not the American accents, nor the oversized advertising (or oversized everything) but something a little more immediate.

Lately, when I leave my Halswell home first thing in the morning, it's like stepping into an open air freezer. When I stepped off the plane here in Fort Lauderdale, it could only be described as stepping into a sauna and with heated fans for good measure.

It is very humid and will take adjustment but with the fitness requirements of cricketers these days, it shouldn't be too bad.

The strange thing here is that when you're inside, in a mall or the hotel lobby, you feel like you need another layer on as the air conditioning is set at such a cool temperature.

It's not until you walk outdoors that you realise the one jersey that was packed was a complete waste of suitcase space.

There is no reference to cricket anywhere around this part of the world.

The sports news is dominated by the appropriately named Miami Heat; recently crowned NBA champions for 2012.

Their star, LeBron James, seems to have his face everywhere.

Miami is 45 minutes drive from where we are in Fort Lauderdale so all around this region they are sharing in their basketball triumph. Yesterday, 25,000 people packed into downtown Miami for the victory parade.

A few of us went to a baseball game at the Marlins Stadium.

The hometown Miami Marlins played the St Louis Cardinals in an amazing, recently built stadium.

It was totally enclosed with retractable roof, big screens and every trimming available – just another example of how sport is big business over here. It's also a real novelty to see the locals get so wound up about sports that don't garner much support at home. Americans following their teams are a real contrast to the passive way we watch live sport at home.

Even with cricket being reasonably unknown as a sport, the organisers still expect to get about 10,000 to our T20 games on the weekend. This indicates that while some sports dominate, the population is so vast here that even minority sports attract respectable crowds by our standards.

There is a big expat population expected to make up a large part of the crowd.

Indians and West Indians who have made Florida their homes still hold their passion for cricket and it is their demand for cricket that may see more growth in the game around North America in the years to come.

We have our first training today so everyone is keen to get back into some cricket, particularly those who have had the last couple of months off.

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The training facilities at the ground have been improved from the Black Caps' last visit, which should give us an excellent preparation for the first game against the West Indians on Sunday morning (NZ time).

- The Press

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