Cricket Gets Some Respect (Again)
A popular sport abroad climbs out of baseball’s shadow here.
By Joe Chan
Photo of BU cricket team captain Hayat Khan (SAR’14) by Chitose Suzuki for BU Photography
When it comes to intercollegiate sports, cricket has been there and back. 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.
In the video above, members of the BU Cricket Club describe how cricket is played and what makes it so different from baseball. View closed captions on YouTube. Video by Joe Chan
Club president Hayat Khan (SAR’14) says the matches take place most weekends in the fall, and most of the competition is local. In 2012, the team played Harvard twice, as well as Northeastern, Rutgers, and Long Island University, which is 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 their best players are Americans who had never played (or even had seen) cricket before coming to campus.
“We have a lot of beginners in our club, people who were born here, as well as people from China and Japan, where there’s no cricket at all,” says Pavan Patel (ENG’08), a member of the team since 2004. The team accepts people from every skill level, and admits undergrads, master’s students, doctoral candidates, and even some alums. First-time players or not, the team was named one of the top five cricket clubs in the nation in 2012 by American College Cricket and attended the American Cricket Club Nationals in March 2013, entering the tournament ranked 7th in the country.
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.
A version of this story appeared in BU Today.