Qualifying for nationals helps with Cricket Club’s recognition

Emily Hejlik

The second most popular sport in the world is gaining recognition at Iowa State.

Competing in the upcoming American College Cricket national tournament won’t hurt club acknowledgment.

“We’ve always had the talent,” said Deepak Navi, senior in biology and president of the Cricket Club. “This is the first year we were able to compete in the Midwest Regional tournament that qualifies your team for nationals because we haven’t had the money.”

The Midwest Regional tournament took place in Iowa City. The University of Iowa, Northern Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern and Iowa State competed for a spot in the national event.

“Winning the Midwest Regional was amazing,” Navi said. “Beating Iowa in the championship match made it even better.”

Colleges from the United States and Canada will compete for the Chanderpaul Trophy at the 2012 American College Cricket Spring Break Championship on March 14 to 18 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Iowa State is one of 28 teams to qualify for the “March Madness” of cricket.

The squad has made a 360 in terms of benefits received for its success.

“We didn’t even have enough money for our own uniforms while competing in the Midwest Regional tournament,” Navi said. “After qualifying for nationals, the American College Cricket Championship is providing new uniforms for us.”

The ISU Government of the Student Body is covering the team’s travel expenses, including a 15-passenger van. The trip totals $6,000, and the remaining costs will be obtained through fundraising. Individual members have been emailing professors and alumni that have been a part of the Cricket Club.

Those not familiar with the sport should become acquainted.

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on a field, at the center of which is a rectangular 22-yard-long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying to dismiss the batsmen and limit the runs scored by the batting team.

A run is scored by the striking batsman hitting the ball with his bat while running to the opposite end of the pitch and touching the crease without being dismissed. The teams switch between batting and fielding at the end of an inning.

Not only has the sport come a long way in the United States, but within the club as well.

“The club has come a long way from where it was when I joined,” said Daya Upreti, junior in biology. “The membership has improved and so has the quality of cricket at ISU. Qualification for the national tournament can be seen as direct consequence of this improvement. The club has a bright future — it is only going to get better from here.”

Qualifying for the national tournament has helped with club awareness, but Upreti has had a direct impact with familiarity.

“I was elected the president for the school year 2010-2011,” Upreti said. “As president, my goal was to raise the level of cricket at ISU. To meet this goal, we increased the number of tournaments and the quality of the tournaments we had throughout the year.”

Joining the club is easy. To get involved, simply find the Cricket Club through student organizations. Membership is open to everyone and costs $20 for a full year. Currently, 55 students are enrolled in the club, with the final cut for nationals being this past weekend. Only 13 will travel to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Others join the club by mishap.

“I accidentally ran into club members playing cricket in the [Lied] rec center when looking for an indoor soccer pickup game,” said Adnan Fazal, coach of the Cricket Club. “Since then, I have had the pleasure of being friends with the club members and playing cricket with them.”

With the American College Cricket Championship nearing, the team has increased the intensity of practices.

“The club practices every weekend in the rec center during winter,” Fazal said. “One day working on general fitness and the other on specific cricket skills. During the summer, the team practices outside two days during the week, with games with other teams scheduled on most weekends. Since Spring Break is right around the corner, we have been practicing almost every day.”

The perks that correlate with making it to nationals are a selling point in itself for the club, but it still boils down to the sheer love for the game.

“My favorite part of cricket is that it allows room for individual achievements, but success is highly depended on the team working as one,” Fazal said. “Beyond that, there is nothing like hitting the ball outside of the park again and again and again.”