LIVINGSTON, NJ — More than 100 local athletes of all ages and gender gathered at Riker Hill Elementary School on Sunday morning to celebrate what Mayor Ed Meinhardt has deemed as “Cricket Day” in the Township of Livingston.
The mayor and council joined the recently formed Livingston Cricket Association at the newest home field at Riker Hill, which will be dedicated for Cricket on weekend mornings from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. from April through October to accommodate the many area residents who have expressed interest in the bat-and-ball team sport. Nilesh Mhatre, executive board member of Sanskriti of New Jersey, said it was a historic moment in Livingston as Meinhardt and Deputy Mayor Al Anthony threw the first balls and made impressive first attempts at hitting with the Cricket bat.
“We want to nurture Cricket in Livingston and pass on this sport to the next generation by providing coaching lessons to younger kids,” said Mhatre. “This is a dream come true and demonstrates a true sense of how diverse Livingston is.”
On the heels of Thursday’s community-wide Israel at 70 festival at the Oval, Meinhardt echoed these sentiments regarding the diversity of the township. He and Anthony said the Livingston Cricket Association, which initially came to the council in 2011 looking for somewhere to practice, said the group was extremely welcoming to them on Sunday and that they look forward to joining the Cricket exhibition on the 4th of July.
“Being able to respond to a request like this is another great example of how diverse and welcoming of a town Livingston is and I’m so happy that we were able to provide that,” said Meinhardt. “We have been able to give them what they called their own ‘field of dreams’ and they were so grateful to have this complex to use to play the game of Cricket.”
Mhatre and members of the Livingston Cricket Association attended Monday’s council meeting to thank the mayor and council once again for their efforts.
“I really want to the township council and the [departments] that helped us to acquire this crowd and actually make this a reality that we could play real Cricket on weekends,” he said. “It’s a fantastic location, I really enjoyed it and we hope now to continue this.”
Meinhardt responded that it is the township that owes this group of men and women a debt of gratitude for making the request to include this growing sport as a local recreational activity.
“This is the town we live in and it shows the wonderful diversity and inclusion that this town has to offer,” said Meinhardt. “Without you folks coming to us and asking for this event, we wouldn’t have thought about it. So it’s a thank you that goes both ways—that’s what you get when you have a very open and welcoming town and an open and welcoming town council as well.”
Cricket is an international sport but is most prominent in England, Ireland and the Indian sub-continent. The Livingston location has the ability to accommodate three simultaneous Cricket games.