The Republic – Hearing crickets: Foreign game booming

By John Bauernfeind
First Posted: August 06, 2013 – 12:05 am
Last Updated: August 06, 2013 – 12:08 am
For Prashanth Mathihalli, a trip to Clifty Park takes him across town. The game of cricket he plays once he arrives takes him much farther.“Cricket is something that we do for entertainment and fun,” said Mathihalli, who has lived in Columbus since 2007 and works as a Cummins’ technical specialist. “It’s one thing that gets us over our homesickness.”From India, the 28-year-old Mathihalli grew up playing the sport, which developed into the national sport of England in the 18th century and expanded through the British Empire.

The Columbus Cricket League usually is made up of eight to 10 teams with about 15 players on a roster. A regular cricket match uses 11 players on the field at a time.

Mathihalli said cricket matches are played every week and often are part of a tournament that might take three to four weeks to complete.

“There are tournaments going on all the time,” Mathihalli said.

Abhijeet Nande, 28, said there are some differences between the cricket he plays at Clifty Park and the one he played at his home in India.

“The main difference of playing cricket in America as opposed to India is that there is more space to play here,” Nande said. “But, also a lot less people are playing.”

Nande shares a similar story with Mathihalli. Originally from India, Nande has lived in Columbus for 4½ years. He works as an engineer for Cummins.

“It’s about just hanging with friends and having a good time,” Nande said about the cricket league. “It’s the only game from back home that we have here,” Nande said. “To relax, and to have a good time with friends, we play. It gives us a good feeling from back home.”

The sport utilizes a bat, ball and playing field, with the center of that field having a rectangular 22-yard-long pitch. Each team takes a turn to bat, and attempts to score runs while the other team fields. Each turn is called an innings.

A bowler (pitcher) delivers the ball to a batsman who attempts to hit the ball far enough that he can run to the other end of the pitch to score a run. The length of a game often can last for days.

While the sport allows those from India to have a homecoming of sorts, it is competitive as well.

“It’s friendly, but when we play it does get competitive,” said Mathihalli, who came to the United States in 2005 to pursue a degree in computer engineering. “It’s all among friends, though. Most of the players stay with their same teams.”

Mathihalli has played in the Columbus league since 2010. “I love cricket,” he said. “It keeps me active.”

Although the league is comprised mostly of Indian players, Nande said new members are welcome. He said he is beginning to see more interest from those born-and-raised in Columbus.

“We have had local cricket camps and have had good turnouts by the local kids at these camps,” Nande said.

The cricket league runs from April until September.

To keep games from lasting too long (a professional cricket match can take days to complete), each team gets a limit on the pitches (usually six a batsman) they receive.

“Locally, we don’t play the long version,” Mathihalli said. “Every team gets a number of pitches, around 90. That way we don’t play a full game. Games usually last two-and-a-half to three hours.”

via The Republic – Hearing crickets: Foreign game booming.


About John Bauernfeind

I'm a junior at Indiana University majoring in Journalism with a specialization in Sports Journalism.
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