Cricket in Connecticut
By John Day Barnett
Can you imagine the look on people’s faces when they drive by a baseball field and see a group of Indian-Americans playing something unfamiliar on one of the most American of sports fields? In their eyes, the bat looks funny, the pitcher is running before his pitch, and the batter hits a foul ball that isn’t a foul ball.
With the growing population of South Asians in the United States, it was only a matter of time before the sport of cricket appeared in neighborhood baseball diamonds. While not widespread enough here to garner regular ESPN coverage, one of the most popular games in the world outside North America is slowly gaining traction.
In his wonderful short piece on NPR, Arun Rath highlights a recent trip with his son’s team, representing the Lexington Cricket League in Massachusetts, to a tournament in Connecticut. More like a “big Indian family reunion” over the 4th of July weekend, the event brought together groups to play the favorite sport of many Indians and other South Asians.
After forming a team at a local park, the group ditched the soft ball for a traditional hard ball and stepped into the “big leagues” of cricket little league. Unfortunately for Rath, his son’s team didn’t do too well on the field, but instead scored big with the community of cricket lovers. With the increase in aggressive, rowdy parents at kid’s sports, it’s nice to hear a story about bonding, teamwork, and education at a sporting event.
Cricket is a global game, often played by former members of the British Empire. It hasn’t taken hold in America (of course, a former part of the British Empire), but often dominates conversation around water coolers and bars globally. However, that doesn’t mean it is without its fans here – I recently attended a wedding where many of the guests were staying up until the wee hours of the morning to watch the World Cup final between heated rivals India and Pakistan.
What can we learn from a short article and four-minute piece on the radio about a bunch of kids playing a sport many of us here in the U.S. don’t know how to play? Lessons about community building, inclusion, and hope spring from the piece and make you pause at your existing notions of identity. Sports open doors to cultures, the growth of water polo from Eastern Europe and soccer from South America and Europe in the U.S. show potential outside baseball, football, and basketball. The opposite is also true, with the epic rise of the NBA in China and India.
Can you imagine pulling up to the same field in a few years and seeing a more balanced representation of the local community bowling and hitting? Instead of throwing a baseball, Ricky is sprinting with his arm straight to bowl a ball to Timmy, who is taking a break from football and basketball. In the outfield Sally, Vivek, and Raheem stand in position, ready to pounce on any ball hit in their direction. The perfect blend through sport.
To listen to Batting With A Rock-Hard Ball, For The Love Of The (Cricket) Game, By Arun Rath Go Here