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A crack of the bat and a white ball takes flight. No, it’s not baseball, but like the American pastime, it has a patriotic allure. For India, the game is cricket.
The UK Cricket Club just finished its season becoming quarter finalists in the Midwest Open Cricket League and Midwest Cricket Tournament and semifinalists in the Ohio Invitational Cricket Tournament and the UCCtwenty20.
The rules and procedures of cricket can be quite daunting. Essentially, three positions are on a cricket team: bowlers, batters and wicket keepers. For further insight, Venkat Rajagopalan simply suggests watching a game.
“It’s like how we learn American football after coming here and watching it,” Rajagopalan said.
The UKCC is centered around several core principles, the first, being everyone gets a chance. For example, during a game, 11 players are on the field, and the club team typically has between 18-25 players on the team. The players are rotated or assigned games, so everyone gets playing time.
“We make sure everyone plays the game and gets to show their talent, its really nice,” UKCC’s wicket keeper Hari Chirra said.
The encompassing nature of the club has brought the players together, said the team’s captain Prasanna Padmanabhan.
“If you want to win a tournament, each and every person has to contribute,” Padmanabhan said.
One member, Akshay Vummanagari, hit star status as the best batsman for three consecutive seasons. For the 2009 season, Vummanagari scored more than 1,000 runs in eight months, more than any other league combined.
Though the sport has strong ties to the Indian community, Rajagopalan said he would like to see more interest and participation from the whole campus.
Chirra was quick to point out a misconception: the UKCC’s games do not last for days. A typical game is about four hours.
“Americans think that the sport is played for about three days or five days, and that is the reason they never come and watch the sport,” Chirra said.
The British brought cricket to India before it gained independence, and Rajagopalan said the sport is embedded in Indian culture.
Rajagopalan also said the enthusiasm took off after India’s first ICC Cricket World Cup win in 1983.
“We were the underdogs, that’s where the craze began, of cricket in India,” Rajagopalan said.
Chirra remembers playing cricket as early as the age of three and says the sport is as widespread in India as a pick-up game of basketball in the U.S.
“You can see people playing it at beaches, in roadside parking lots or basketball courts,” Chirra said. “It’s as crazy as ice hockey and football combined when you go to India and see it.”
The UKCC started in 1995 and became officially recognized as a UK club sport in 1997. Chirra said many alumni of previous cricket “generations” are now doctors in UK’s hospital.
“Basically since we are graduate students working in research, we develop a lot of frustration from our work,” Chirra said.
Despite the stress that comes with a heavy academia workload, the players practice twice a week and often return from a game at 2 a.m.
“The passion is the key why we play,” Rajagopalan said.