Today’s news:

NYPD plays ball...er, cricket

With Commissioner Ray Kelly looking on, the long arm of the law hurled the ‘red cherry’ against the ‘meat of the bat,’ swinging into action NYPD’s Youth Cricket League in Flatbush.

Gotham’s top crimebuster was on hand to help launch a new season of the “fastest growing sport in New York City” with a community celebration for participants – also known as “The Warriors” – and their families at Public School 217, Coney Island and Newkirk avenues.

Now in its second season, the league is overseen by NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau, and the majority of participants this summer are of Pakistani, Bengali and Guyanese descent, a representation of the city’s diversity, said Kelly, and an indicator of the far−flung reach of the graceful bat−and−ball sport, first documented in 16th century England, where it later became the national sport.

With the expansion of the British Empire, cricket gained popularity overseas and the first international matches were being played by the mid−19th century. Today, the sport – comprising two teams of 11 players each and played on an oval−shaped field called a pitch divided by a flat strip of ground in the center – is played in more than 100 countries.

After a successful inaugural season in 2008, the NYPD league will feature 10 teams and approximately 170 players this year – an increase from last year when six teams and 100 players took part.

The teams, including Pak Brighton, Punjab, Tigers, Warriors, Dragons, West Indies Kings, Superstars and Knight Riders, who play in Brooklyn at the Gateway Cricket Ground in Spring Creek Park, and in Kissena Park in Queens, will culminate the season with a championship game, August 25.

Participation is free and players will receive a professional color uniform kit.

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