Editor’s note: Steve S. Rao is a Council Member At Large and Former Mayor Pro Tem for the Town of Morrisville and an Opinion Writer for WRAL Tech Wire.  He served on the Board of the New American Economy, now the American Immigration Council, and on the NC League of Municipalities Race and Equity Task Force. He is a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire.


MORRISVILLE – A few months ago, I wrote a blog on how the sport of Cricket is transforming the Town of Morrisville into one of premier destinations in the country for this growing sport.

As I have always said, Morrisville is emerging as the Cricket Capital of the United States.

This exciting sports journey continues as The Town of Morrisville is set to host the Minor League Cricket championships this weekend Aug 27th and Aug. 28th at Church Street Park. 

The action on Saturday will begin with the Pacific Conference final starting at 1:00 p.m. The defending champions, the Silicon Valley Strikers, will face the Seattle Thunderbolts, newcomers to the playoffs this season. The Strikers defeated the Chicago Tigers to advance to the conference final, winning the series 2-1 at Morgan Hill Sports Complex in the Bay Area. Seattle clinched their spot with a barnstorming display on Sunday, beating Dallas 2-0 in Houston with wins by 33 and 108 runs respectively.

Steve Rao

Saturday evening will bring cricket under the lights to Church Street Park, with the Atlantic Conference final set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Last year’s finalists, the New Jersey Stallions, will take on the Atlanta Fire, who have reached the conference final stage for the first time. The Fire qualified by defeating the Manhattan Yorkers in a weather-impacted series in Atlanta, claiming a 1-0 series victory. The Stallions advanced with a 2-0 sweep of the hometown Morrisville Raptors at Church Street Park on Saturday.

The finals weekend festival at Church Street Park, located only 15 miles from downtown Raleigh, is free to attend for all games. The winning team will take home $150,000 out of a total $350,000 total purse, the largest in American cricket history. The Finals Weekend schedule is as follows:

  • Pacific Conference Final – Silicon Valley Strikers vs. Seattle Thunderbolts
    Saturday, Aug. 27 at 1pm
  • Atlantic Conference Final – New Jersey Stallions vs. Atlanta Fire
    Saturday, Aug. 27 at 5:30pm
  • National Championship Final
    Sunday, Aug. 28 at 5pm

High-definition live television and streaming coverage for the finals weekend will feature a premium production by Antares Media for all three games. All matches will be available free to stream via the MLC Network on YouTube, with one conference final on Saturday and the championship match on Sunday to be broadcast on Willow TV’s linear channel, available across millions of households in the United States. For the first time, live audio commentary of Finals Weekend will also be broadcast on 99.94 DM, the innovative “home of cricket audio” launched this summer.

Finals Weekend will conclude the second season of the Toyota Minor League Cricket Championship presented by Sunoco, the most extensive competition in American cricket. The tournament has launched a new era for the sport in the United States, with 26 participating teams competing in over 200 matches taking place in 20 cities nationwide this season, running over 10 weekends of play.

The full schedule and list of all competing 26 teams and their divisional breakdown is available at www.minorleague.cricket.

Clearly, the outdoor sport of cricket is gaining popularity in the U.S.

The primary aim of the tournament is to give a platform and opportunity for the best cricketers in America to showcase their abilities at the national level. The organization also wants to build cricket communities across the country, the league’s website states.

I continue to be  impressed with the growing fan base that already exists for cricket in North Carolina.   Kudos to my colleagues on the Council who  recently committed to a multi-million dollar partnership with the minor league. Funds will go toward facility and field improvements.

Morrisville is home to North Carolina’s only Minor League Cricket team, the Morrisvile Raptors.  Dane Piedt is the captain of the Morrisville Raptors cricket team.    After a phenomenal cricket career in South Africa, Piedt moved to North Carolina to help grow the sport.

As a Council Member and resident of Morrisville, I look forward to T20 World Cup Qualifiers and a bright future cricket to bring in more tourists, and dollars to our hotels, restaurants, and business community.

I once heard a wise man say to me the following:

Coming Together Is a Beginning.

Staying Together is Progress.

Working Together is Success.

At the end of the day, the success and growth of  Morrisville Cricket is the result of folks from all over the world coming together to bring this global support to the region, staying together to grow and market the game at the national level, and working with the Town, USA Cricket, and Major League Cricket to truly put our Town on the Cricket map in the nation and world.

We thank all of the pioneers who made this happen.

See you Saturday at the Cricket Capital!