East Meadow locals check out 2024 Cricket World Cup

Brad and Brody Shafran attend Sri Lanka-South Africa match


While the vast majority of Nassau County residents may not know anything about cricket, their home is currently a world stage for the largest tournament in the sport: the International Cricket Committee T20 Men’s World Cup. East Meadow residents have watched the event’s stadium take shape over the past several months in Eisenhower Park, and now that the games are here, popular matches are expected to draw thousands of people into the heart of the county.

Fans have traveled from around the country — and the world — to watch their favorite teams take to the pitch, and locals are getting a look at the sport as well. Brad Shafran, of East Meadow, attended the first official game played in Nassau County with his 12-year-old son, Brody, on Monday. While they didn’t know much about the sport as they headed into the stadium, the experience was unique, and definitely one they won’t forget.

“I’m a very big sports fan,” Shafran told the Herald. “I teach tennis, diehard Islanders fan — it’s so much fun to go to sporting events. So this, being in our backyard, and I saw construction every time I drove through Eisenhower Park, I figured it’d be great to go to the game.”

The South African cricket team defeated Sri Lanka on Monday. Shafran said that he and Brody arrived just after the start of the game, and watched about three-quarters of it. He purchased reasonably priced tickets on StubHub, he added.

“Walking in there, I had maybe seen cricket on TV once or twice — I didn’t know the rules,” he said. “I understood the concepts of what they were trying to do. We sat next to some people from Sri Lanka, and they actually talked me through some of it, so it was a really nice camaraderie.”

Shafran said he could understand why East Meadow residents had their concerns leading up the tournament — the heavily utilized park is closed for a week and a half, and thousands of people are expected to attend games this weekend. But the experience, he said, was still very cool.

“It was a nice experience for an event that a lot of people in the area weren’t too happy was coming here, because of the traffic concerns and all that,” he said. “And yes, I do like to use the park, and I do like to use the tennis courts. I can’t do it for the next week and a half, but I did get to go to a game.”

Some residents had voiced concerns about the integrity of the stadium, a temporary, modular structure, but Shafran said it looked great.

“Every time I drove through the park, I was wondering (what) it would look like, and you walk in and it’s got this magnificent field,” he said. “The stands are very comfortable, and it wasn’t very crowded, so I had plenty of room to move around and kind of check it out. It looks world class for something that was built in a short time. I felt perfectly safe.”

The Sri Lanka-South Africa match wasn’t one of the more talked-about games, so the crowd was smaller. Games featuring India or Pakistan — and especially the match between the two countries scheduled for Sunday — are expected to be the biggest draws. Shafran said that security measures were enforced, and there were plenty of police officers on hand.

Because they were sitting with fans from Sri Lanka, that’s who the Shafrans ended up rooting for. Everyone around them was kind and welcoming, and they even learned a thing or two about cricket. The experience was so positive, Shafran said, that he was considering buying tickets for a game later this week, so he could bring his older son.

“We were just having a good time, trying to just be involved,” he said. “I don’t know if I would’ve traveled to, you know, let’s say New Jersey or somewhere to watch this game, but to drive five minutes and walk 10 minutes — it was great.”