The Northeast Pennsylvania Cricket Club celebrated its fifth summer with their annual Cricket Tournament at their home field at the Nuangola Recreation Fields.
The club started with about eight members in 2012 and has now grown to over forty members and the acquisition of their home pitch in Nuangola. The club gets together every weekend and host the annual community game. Their schedule has also expanded from seasonal to include winter matches at the Wilkes-Barre sports dome.
“Everybody was having so much fun, they didn’t want to stop after the summer was over,” said Dr. Navid Ahmad, founder of the club and co-organizer of the event.
Members of the North East Pennsylvania Cricket Club play mostly for the fun of it, but enjoy the occasional competitive game, either locally or out of state. And while the sport is fun and a way to exercise, Dr. Ahmad explained the real benefit to playing Cricket is the social interaction among members of diverse backgrounds.
“Getting community people from diverse backgrounds to spend time together has been the main goal,” said Dr. Ahmad in the fall of 2014 when the group hosted their first annual tournament. “We see each other where we work, or at our children’s events, but it is nice to have a time to get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company.” That goal has not changed.
“We have members of many different backgrounds and we want to introduce more people to the game,” said Dr. Ahmad after the event on Sunday, August 6. “Many come just to watch and we want them to get involved”.
This year’s third annual tournament continued to build on the concept of family and community. The event was open to the community and included food, activities for children and exhibition matches for men, women and children. Dr. Ahmad said the main objective was to meet new people, build camaraderie and introduce people to club members and the game of Cricket.
“For us, it’s a fun group,” said Ahmad “We have already grown more than we expected, and even though we want to make it better, we are in a very good place. We are very happy with the turnout.”
Originally started in England as a gentleman’s game, Cricket was a way for men to relax and socialize, and became popular in India and Pakistan after those areas were colonized by Great Britain in the early 1800s. Dr. Ahmad says that now, as many as a billion people currently play the sport around the world.
The closest American equivalent to Cricket is baseball, although there are some major differences. For one, a Cricket match can last days. There are eleven players per team with the objective of scoring the most points by hitting a ball with a wooden “bat” that is more like what Americans would envision as a paddle. There is a “batting” team and a “bowling” team, the baseball equivalent of the batting and pitching team. There are two batsman at a time, and there are 11 fielders on the bowling team. Runners run straight through the circular pitch and back to score, rather than around bases at the perimeters of a diamond. Each team has six bowls per “over” and each game has between twenty to fifty overs. While most baseball games are won on powerful pitching or line drives to the outfield, the best way to score in Cricket is to bounce the ball in any direction you can to avoid a defender –including behind the batsman. Fielders do not wear mitts.
This year’s event was attended by over 100 people and ran throughout the afternoon and into the evening. The club was very happy with the turnout and Dr. Ahmad said that the best part of the day was teaching the children the basics.
“Some of the kids didn’t even know what to do with the bat or how to throw the ball,” remarked Dr. Ahmad “It is fun to watch them learn and that was the whole idea of the event”.
Dr. Ahmad commented that while the turnout was better than expected, he does acknowledge that the club is still struggling to get the word out to community members who are not already familiar with the sport. The Northeast Pennsylvania Cricket Club will continue to host the event annually as a way to introduce the sport to others.
“This game is here, please come and learn,” concluded Dr. Ahmad. “We are willing to spend the time with you to teach you”
For more information about the Northeast Pennsylvania Cricket Club, contact Dr. Ahmad Navid at 215-431-2591.