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When it comes to intercollegiate sports, cricket has been there and back—literally. In the late 19th century, teams from Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia played regularly scheduled games as members of the Intercollegiate Cricket Association. Then came the 20th century, and cricket, once the national game of the United States, was pushed aside by a popular new sport called baseball. Now, thanks largely to students from South Asia, South Africa, and the West Indies, cricket is back on campuses across the country.
Club president Hayat Khan (SAR’14) says the club, which includes students and alumni, plays most weekends in the fall, usually against local competitors. Last fall, the team played Harvard twice, Northeastern, Rutgers, and Long Island University, which happens to be in Brooklyn, where, coincidentally, Khan grew up playing cricket with many immigrants from the West Indies. At BU, he says, most of the team hails from Pakistan and India, although some of the best players are Americans who had never played cricket before coming to campus. “We have a lot of beginners, people who were born here, as well as people from China and Japan, where there’s no cricket at all,” says Pauvin Patel (ENG’08), a member of the team since 2004.
Khan says he hopes the growing popularity of cricket will persuade the NCAA to sanction the sport, which would lend it the respect it enjoys in many other countries.