EXPLAINER OF THREE VENUES IN NEW YORK, HOUSTON AND LOS ANGELES the T20 matches of the Cricket All-Stars Series 2015

 Queens, New York

Date: Saturday, November 7, 1300hrs
Population: 8.5 million, largest city in the USA, with a metro area population of more than 20 million
Venue: Citi Field, home of the New York Mets (45,000-seat capacity)
Surrounding area: Queens enclaves of Richmond Hill, Jamaica, Ozone Park, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights and Long Island City are home to some of the area's biggest south Asian and West Indian immigrant populations, especially along the famed Liberty Avenue.
Local cricket scene: New York City has the largest concentration of amateur cricketers anywhere in the USA. America's largest league, the Commonwealth Cricket League, features over 70 hardball teams and plays most of its cricket in Queens, Bronx and Brooklyn. The NY Metropolitan & District Cricket Association is not far behind either. NYC also has several other hardball leagues including the Eastern American Cricket Association and NY Bangladesh League that cater to the strong expatriate population in the area. Despite the abundance of teams, there are zero turf wickets in the city.
History: The first international cricket match between USA and Canada in 1844 was played in New York. British and Australian touring teams have ventured through Staten Island's Walker Park. WG Grace and Don Bradman both played there and the park is still used for cricket today. All-Star teams played regularly at Shea Stadium, the forerunner to Citi Field, in the 1980s while Pakistan and Australia XIs featuring Wasim Akram and Dean Jones played at Randalls Island in the 1990s. Most recently a West Indian XI featuring Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle took on a USA Select XI at Floyd Bennett Field in 2006.
Likely weather: Cool at best, but more than likely cold. Average high at that time of year is 56F (13C) with the average low hovering at 43F (6C).
US sports competition: All the local pro sports teams are either out of town - NBA's Brooklyn Nets play at Milwaukee Bucks and NHL's New York Rangers are at Arizona Coyotes - but in the broader picture there is heavy competition from NCAA College Football. The major sports TV match-up that day features SEC powers LSU v Alabama while there are also a pair of showdowns with potential national title implications on the line involving current undefeated teams Florida State v Clemson and TCU v Oklahoma State.

 Houston, Texas


Date: Wednesday, November 11, 1400hrs
Population: 2.2 million, fourth largest city in the USA, with a metro area population of more than 6 million
Venue: Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros (41,574-seat capacity)
Surrounding area: Not nearly as densely populated as New York City, Houston is a sprawling city. In terms of demographics, an increase in the south Asian immigrant population in recent years has been fuelled by growth in the energy industry.
Cricket scene: The Houston Cricket League has blossomed in the last decade, growing to 28 teams in three divisions. Local entrepreneur Sakhi Muhammad has spent the last two years constructing Texas' first fully dedicated turf wicket complex on private property in the south Houston suburb of Pearland. Two turf pitches are complete and land on adjacent property has been secured to begin work on a third.
History: An attempt to stage a World XI v Asian XI at the Houston Astrodome featuring a slew of Pakistani players including Shahid Afridi and Inzamam-ul-Haq was aborted in 2005.
Likely weather: Houston's averages at that time of year are an average high of 73F (23C) and a low of 54F (12C). Minute Maid Park is the only one of the three venues being used that has a retractable roof so even if weather is not great outside, the match should not have any issues being played.
US sports competition: Houston Rockets host the Brooklyn Nets and not too far away the Dallas Mavericks host the Los Angeles Clippers, though both games are in the evening with 7pm starts. The cricket match start time of 2pm on a weekday will make it challenging for fans to come out without taking a day off work, a hard sell for a casual fan. 

Los Angeles, California

Date: Saturday, November 14, 1830hrs
Population: 3.9 million, second-largest city in the USA, with a metro area population of more than 13 million
Venue: Dodger Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers (56,000-seat capacity)
Surrounding area: Just a few blocks from Chinatown on the north side of the city center. Sixteen miles west is the famous Santa Monica pier at the end of Route 66. Much of the city's cricket folk are based to the northwest in the San Fernando Valley where the Woodley Cricket Complex is located in Van Nuys.
Cricket scene: Woodley is home to the Southern California Cricket Association, with 45 teams competing on a weekly basis. It is the largest turf wicket complex in America, with four pitches located side by side. A few other smaller leagues exist in the area. 

History: Hollywood Cricket Club, founded by former England Test captain Aubrey Smith in 1935, is one of the oldest clubs in America and one of the original clubs in the SCCA. Prior to Woodley, the league's main complex was at Griffith Park, right underneath the classic "HOLLYWOOD" sign, before the land was designated for the equestrian competition at the 1984 Summer Olympics.
Woodley was provided as a replacement to become the new home of the SCCA and has been there ever since. Woodley hosted a five-match series of 50-over matches between Australia A, captained by Adam Gilchrist, and India A, captained by VVS Laxman, in 1999 but the fan attendance was minimal. 
 Likely weather: Average high is 73F (23C) and average low is 52F (11C). Chances of rain are unlikely as well. Best conditions for cricket of the three venues. 

US sports competition: The heaviest of the three cities on the day. NBA's Los Angeles Clippers play at home against the Detroit Pistons to start the day while at 7pm the NHL's Kings take on the Edmonton Oilers, both at the Staples Center. However, the biggest clash may come from the UCLA Bruins football team, who play at the 100,000 seat Rose Bowl and is currently in the thick of the Pac-12 Championship race. They'll be playing Washington State that day. On a national scale, a 6.30pm local start time might also knockout any potential TV interest from the US east coast, where the game wouldn't get underway until 9.30 pm.

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