Searching for an enigma

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Jul 312007
 
Authors: Mike Donovan

The hot July sun scorches the West Lawn as CSU takes the field in a match-up against its rivals to the south.

Emotions are clearly on the player’s sleeves as on the first play, the home team screams in delight at the sight of the opposing player failing at his job.

And the joyous exuberance is not unfounded in this sport. A game of cricket at the local level can take a full day. When it comes down to it, one out in cricket is like a baseball team striking out six straight batters in baseball or a basketball team, shutting out its opponent for a full quarter.

For the majority of Americans, cricket is an enigma. A sort of baseball-like competition played with tea breaks in England, the game has never caught on in the U.S. despite its former ties to the British Isles.

And when CSU took on the Coal Creek Cricket Club’s Gold team in an official Colorado Cricket League match on July 14, most casual passersby were struck by the same thought. What is this game and why are a group of men wearing white khakis playing it?

Dads stop with strollers in tow to watch the mysterious game trying to figure how one scores or gets out. Bicyclists whiz by the match only to notice a ball flying into the creek that is adjacent to the West Lawn. Surely thinking, what is the heck is going on here?

“The rules aren’t too difficult, Americans are very smart, they could learn the rules quite easily,” said Krishna Ivaturi, Vice Captain and President of CSU’s cricket team.

For whatever the reason, cricket has not caught on in America. While theories abound why that is, Ivaturi believes there is one main factor.

“Americans are not used to playing all day,” Ivaturi said. “They just want to play a quick game like baseball. I don’t see a sport (in America) that takes all day.”

The quote in itself seems to go against all fabrics of American sports fans. Baseball as a quick game? Most fans would consider the pastime the longest and most drawn out of all spectator sports.

The speed of the game has certainly made it hard for American audiences to comprehend. Selwyn Caesar, the treasurer for the United States of America Cricket Association, believes the pace of the game is definitely a factor in the lack of American interest.

“Cricket is an elongated game. It isn’t like any American sports,” Caesar said from his Yonkers, N.Y. office. “It’s not like hockey, which has its fighting, and it isn’t like basketball, which is so fast paced. It’s a different game”

The USACA, which is the sport’s American governing body, has more than 690 teams in 36 leagues in its membership, according to Caesar. With that many teams, the sport sure seems to have some foothold in this country.

And Caesar, who is a native of Trinidad and Tobago, is quick to point out the continued development of his beloved game on his adopted homeland.

“There has been an increase in clubs in recent years. Younger players are forming their own clubs,” said Caesar. “Cricket is going to places where it hasn’t been before.”

As far as its continued development at CSU is concerned, the club is at a crossroads. Established seven years ago as a sports club team, the cricket club was dropped from the sport clubs department in 2005, according to Aaron Harris, assistant director of sport clubs at CSU.

“They failed to meet three of the criteria to be a sport club. Their competition schedule was incomplete, their travel requirements, and membership requirements all failed.”

Since their dismissal from the sport clubs department, the cricket club is now considered a student organization. Despite the non-sport recognition from the university, CSU’s playing field, which is also known as a wicket or pitch, is considered the best in the state.

“The facilities are nicer here than most places. Almost every player agrees that CSU’s wicket is the best in Colorado,” Ivaturi said. “It’s a new one, only three years old. The ball takes a proper bounce. There are different pitches throughout and ours is a fast one.”

CSU competes in the Colorado Cricket League, which is one of the 36 sanctioned leagues found throughout the United States. CSU’s team is made up of all students, according to Ivaturi. This puts CSU at a disadvantage compared to the other members of the league.

“Most other teams can add players and play whomever they want. We just try to keep students playing on our team,” Ivaturi said.

The club currently fields only players of Indian descent, but Ivaturi wants this changed.

“We don’t want to be an “Indian” team, we want to be a CSU team,” Ivaturi said.

The CCL, however, is home to players from India, England, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, Australia, and other nations.

Despite the success of the CCL and other leagues throughout the nation, cricket remains an enigma in America and in Colorado.

It’s a sport which uses the same equipment it used 100 years ago, that takes a day to play at the minimum, one which includes lunch breaks in most international matches.

A sport that will continue to cause onlookers to stare in confusion and wonder, what is this game?

A mystery that will continue to endure on the West Lawn.

Staff writer Mike Donovan can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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