When Yorkshire Played New York


2017071920180219 (R4)

Cricket was once the most popular sport played in America. To begin this story, Geoff Boycott and veteran New York cricketer Clarence Modeste recall an extraordinary attempt to revive cricket with the Yorkshire county team playing at Staten Island Cricket Club in the midst of social unrest during 1964.

At that time, America was a turbulent place following the assassination of President Kennedy. The Civil Rights movement was under attack and there was rioting in the streets.

As The Beatles took to the stage of the Paramount Theatre in New York for their US debut, across town the Brylcreem boys of Yorkshire were beginning their attempt to bring cricket back to the USA. Gamesmanship, partying, and psychological warfare are recounted here by some of the survivors.

In the 1800s, before the American Civil War, cricket was the dominant sport in America. Presenter and cricket fanatic David Prest visits the home of US cricket in Haverford, Philadelphia to hear about the social history of the game and how it's surviving now - largely organised and played along ethnic team lines. The award winning-author Joseph O'Neill recounts the origins of his bestselling novel about cricket in the USA, Netherland, and describes how the police organise cricket facilities in New York for young Muslim players in poorer areas in an attempt to keep them from becoming isolated and succumbing to extremist ideology.

By contrast, we also visit the exclusive surroundings of Merrion Cricket Club in Haverford, Philadelphia where millionaires take tea on the pavilion.

Finally, the programme asks if America could ever become a cricketing nation once again.

Produced by Peter Curran
A Foghorn production for BBC Radio 4.

A legendary match leads us into the extraordinary cultural history of cricket in America.

20170719A legendary match leads us into the extraordinary cultural history of cricket in America.