College students bring cricket to Smithers

International students are introducing Smithereens to a new (old) sport.

The British empire has left the world with two games that are played by a huge number of people around the world: soccer and cricket.

Soccer, or association football, is relatively easy to understand. It’s also easy to play just about anywhere by as few as one person. You need something to kick, hopefully round in shape, and a place to kick it around. It’s easily the most popular game in the world and is played by literally billions all over the world.

Cricket, on the other hand, is one of those games that anyone who has not been brought up on will have a hard time understanding due to the complicated nature of it’s rules.

Two batters from one team will position themselves in front of a pair of wickets. A wicket is three upright sticks that support small sticks on top. A bowler, or pitcher, will hurl a ball about the size of a tennis ball straight armed and overhand and try to knock over the wickets. The ball has to bounce in front of the batter who will then try to hit the ball with his bat, which for lack of a better description is shaped like a long wooden pizza spatula you might see an authentic Italian bakery — much narrower and a lot longer.

If the batter hits it he then runs to the other wicket while his compatriot will run to his wicket. Runs are scored based on how far the ball is hit or how many times the batters can run between the wickets. (In a game where I watched one side bat, the score was 117-0 before the sides switched.)

Games often go on more than a day.

Is it popular? Very. When you consider countries like Great Britain, Australia and South Africa are joined by India, with its over one billion in population, it is one of the most popular games in the world, far out distancing baseball and American football.

In India for example, young boys play from an early age. Around the world, women are beginning to play the game in droves.

We don’t have much cricket here in Smithers but there is a small group of young men who get together most weekday evenings to play their favorite game at Walnut Park.

These men are students at Coast Mountain College and after they finish their classes, they head to the fields by Walnut Park and get set to play.

According to student Viral Mochi, they had a difficult time getting proper equipment but now that they have a decent bat and balls, they can enjoy playing. Mochi said that many of the players here are very skilled and they enjoy playing from Monday to Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. until it’s too dark to play.

The players are mostly from the northwestern area of India and will be in Smithers for around two years. He wasn’t sure if they would be playing cricket in the winter but perhaps it would be a good way to stay warm when the weather gets cold.

Regardless, those in attendance this week were having a very good time as they played. Many were not wearing any sneakers as they ran around the grassy field and they showed great enthusiasm for the game which they played for such a long part of their lives.

Anyone interested in playing is welcome to join in. The players meet at the Walnut Park fields Monday to Thursday evenings after 7 p.m.

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The players had fun but they were also serious when on the field. (Tom Best photo)

The players, students at the Coast Mountain College for a post graduate diploma in Business Administration, gather at Walnut Park fields Monday to Thursday at 7 p.m. (Tom Best photo)

The students came mostly from the northwestern part of India. (Tom Best photo)

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