Two weeks ago, I watched a cricket game between The Starlite Cricket Team and The Miami Royals. Cricket in South Florida is played mostly by immigrants from the Caribbean and Guyana. As I watched the game, warm, sweet memories of my growing up years came rushing back and for a short time, I was a care-free child once again.
My earliest memory of the game of cricket is of a group of children playing “bat and ball” on the street, in the school yard or any open space we could use. We had so much fun! This bat and ball game, called cricket was one of the highlights of my childhood and continues to be even today. What is cricket?
Cricket is the second most watched sports in the world and over 100 countries officially play this game. There is no exact date as to when this sport started, but it is said to be some time in the 16th century in South-East England. Over the years, the game spread throughout England and to the shores of other countries. It was introduced to North America in the 17th century and was popular for a short time, until the early 20th century when it became endangered, but never completely extinct. How is this game played?
To the casual onlooker, cricket can be long and monotonous. However, don’t say this to the millions of die-hard cricket fans out there. In trying not to bore you, I will keep the description short. I encourage you to do some additional research on the game if your interest is piqued.
The game is played on a pitch surrounded by a grassy field. There are two teams with eleven (11) players on each time. One team fields and the other team bats. Two batsmen are on either side of the 22 yard long pitch with wickets (stumps) on both ends. The bowler, from the other team bounces the ball to one of the batsmen whose job is to defend his wicket from the ball. The other batsman (the non striker) is inactive until his partner strikes the ball. When the ball is struck, the two batsmen run across the pitch and touch their bats down at the end to score a “run”. Confused yet?
The fielding/bowling team runs around to catch the ball to throw it back to the bowler or the wicket keeper to stop the batsman from scoring more than four runs from that single hit. Runs are made in singles, fours or sixes. If the batsman hits the ball all the way to the boundary, the umpire calls a six. If the ball bounces before it gets to the boundary, it is a four. In both instances, the batsmen do not have to run.
There is more to the game of cricket, but I promised to keep the description short! More here. As stated earlier, cricket was a much loved sport in the U.S. until the early part of the 20th century, but almost perished. It is making a comeback though- slowly but surely. American College Cricket is helping to keep this sport alive. Cricket is now played across the country in schools, local clubs and in universities. Last year, the John Bart King Award winner was Nick Mancino of the University of Pennsylvania (John Bart King is known as the greatest American cricketer). The University of Pennsylvania is a key part of USA cricket history, its first cricket team was started in 1842.
President Obama is getting some batting tips from Brian Lara of the West Indies team.
President Bush is intensely focused!
Cricket history was made last year at Central Broward Regional Park – it was the first official professional cricket match to be played in the United States. The match was between the West Indies and New Zealand.
Here’s an interesting fact: Central Broward Regional Park is the only International Cricket Council approved stadium in the U.S. Although Florida boasts a cricket stadium, local teams don’t often play there. They rely on the support of the public schools to loan the school grounds for weekend cricket and this can be a challenge. Often, you will find two teams sharing one ground. They play concurrently on the same day or alternate the weekends. Historically, cricketers wear white, but nowadays teams can be seen with colorful uniforms.
Posing for this photo is the Starlite Cricket Team in their new uniform sponsored by Tina Doobay of Choice One Real Estate and Raj Doobay of Choice One Mortgage.
One of the most influential and famous West Indies cricketer, Clive Lloyd, once said, “Cricket is the glue which keeps us together”. Indeed, the game has stood the test of time and has proven to unite people, communities, and nations.