The cricket club had their first official match in a long time against Western Illinois University. On Oct. 21st the team played and were defeated, but had a very close game.
“It was a very close game and we were on the brink of winning. We thought we would win but since we don’t practice 360 degree cricket it’s hard to put out that performance on a 360 degree field, which credits to the boys. They put out a wonderful show and it was the first game and to come out like thatÉ I think we can make this something,” senior captain Srikaran Masabathula said.
Masabathula has been playing cricket since he was a child back home in India.
“I started when I was 5 but I’ve been training outside of school since I was 9 years old,” Masabathula said. “It’s very popular in India. They say ‘cricket is a religion.’ Most of the subcontinents, England, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, West IndiesÑthese are some of the cricket-playing nations.”
The Knox team started as a club and got most of their players from Facebook hype and people expressing interest when observing the team’s practices outside.
The team is, with the exception of Masabathula, made up of freshmen and sophomores who have been practicing all term. An issue that the team has run into is finding practicing space. Cricket requires a large field, 80 yards and 360 degrees around. It also cannot be played on grass because the ball won’t pitch. Due to lack of facilities, the team has been practicing on the sidewalk and the grass in between Seymour and CFA and occasionally in the T. Fleming Fieldhouse.
“We don’t have enough for 11 on 11, which is what it’s supposed to be. We only have 12 or 13 players so we play 6 on 6, and 180 degrees in front of the wicket,” Masabathula said.
Playing this way has affected the way the team competes, only because they have been practicing with 180 degree conditions and not with the full 360, which is the standard for school competitions. The size of the team also affects the way the team can compete.
“The problem is there are very limited people who play cricket so there’s only about 15 people that can play and you have to pick 11 who will play on the teams. It’s good to have three or four options in order of switching players. We are making it work with what we have right now,” Masabathula said.
Another problem that the team is facing is the talent. There’s plenty of people who would be willing to play, but just don’t know how.
“For the team, I think the problem is the same. There’s little selection of people. Western Illinois had a selection of 25 players and picked 11 out of that. They have a bigger amount of quality players. And our team, there’s four or five really good players and for us, cricket has been most of our lives,” Masabathula said.
Cricket also isn’t very popular at schools in the area.
“Yes, other schools have teams, but they don’t have established teams. It’s not a conference sport. It’s more scattered. Hopefully we can turn cricket into a conference sport eventually,” Masabathula said.
The actual season begins in the spring and both the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Western Illinois University teams have expressed interest in competing then. Masabathula hopes to set up a tournament in the spring.
The team is working with their advisor, men’s soccer coach Tyler Sheikh, to hopefully arrange practices in a more conductive space, have some home matches and get uniforms. They will begin competing again in the spring. In the meantime, they hope to build their program, and to continue practicing and recruiting before the season begins.