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UB club members and quarterfinal finishers in the 2013 American College Cricket National Championship.
There’s a ball and a bat, but put down your peanuts and crackerjack. UB’s Cricket Club brings the beloved British pastime across the pond and onto the Western New York campus.
Story by Julie Wesolowski
They might be the best UB team you never heard of. And they play cricket. Formed officially in 2011, the UB Cricket Club plays its games with little fanfare and without much of a playing field. Most of the time they play in an empty residence hall parking lot at UB’s Governor’s Complex. And yet the young team is already making a name for itself. Finishing in the top eight during the quarterfinals of the 2013 American College Cricket National Championship, the club beat teams from Penn State, Texas A&M and Harvard. Beginning with modest membership of 15 to 20 players, the club now boasts approximately 200 members.
Patrick McDevitt, associate professor of history,
teaches a course on the history of sport, and
authored the book “May the Best Man Win: Sport,
Masculinity, and Nationalism in Great Britain and
the Empire, 1880-1935” that features two chapters
on cricket. He also contributed a book chapter in
“The Cambridge Companion to Cricket.” McDevitt
serves as the faculty adviser for the UB Cricket Club Association.
How long have you been a fan of cricket?
I first learned the nuances of
cricket when I moved to New
Zealand as a graduate student in
1993. A lifelong baseball fan, it was
an easy transition to make for me.
While obviously different games,
the two sports share many traits
(pace of play, basic movements and
objectives, a fascination of statistics,
etc.). I think many Americans
are intimidated by cricket, which
in some varieties can last for five
days. The game that is most often
played is called Twenty20 and
takes the same length of time as a
Is there a quick and dirty way of
understanding the game?
The best way for an American to be
introduced to the game is to have
it explained by someone who grew
up playing baseball. The translation process runs more
smoothly that way.
Do you play cricket?
I do not play cricket well, although I have certainly played
enough of the driveway and backyard variety over the years.
I wouldn’t have the skills to play with the UB Cricket Team.
Have you been able to convert any Americans into becoming
I have only passed along my love of cricket to one baseball-loving
American, and that is Professor Kristin Stapleton of
the history department when we were delayed in the New
Delhi airport for six or seven hours and it was on TV.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with the game, can
you talk about the meaning of the saying “It’s not just
cricket”? Do you use that saying at all?
While I wouldn’t use “not cricket” in my vocabulary very
much—I’m just a guy from New Jersey after all—English-speaking
people from around the former British Empire
certainly would. The common usage of the phrase that
something was “not cricket” meant simply and succinctly
that it was not morally right.
Why do you think cricket hasn’t caught on in a big way in
Cricket didn’t originally catch on in the U.S. because the organizers of cricket highlighted its exclusivity and its Anglophilia, while baseball’s early promoters sought a wider audience and promoted its “Americanness.” The game is gaining popularity in the States. The New York City Public Schools now have a cricket championship with more teams being added every year. Increasingly, native-born Americans, not just West Indian and South Asian students, are playing too.
A cricket field is a large circular or oval shaped grassy ground. There are no fixed dimensions for the field but its diameter varies between 449 ft. and 492 ft., in the center of which is a flat strip of ground called a pitch.
It takes two. Each team of 11 players takes turns batting and fielding. When a team is batting, two players come to the field together on opposite sides of the pitch—as a striker and non-striker. Once the ball is hit by the striker, they run to the opposite side of the pitch, scoring runs along the way.
How long does a game last? A formal game of cricket can range from a few hours to many days. The UB club, with limitations such as schoolwork, plays a game called Twenty20, which lasts three to four hours. Got time to kill? Test Cricket is played for the duration of five days.
Fielding positions are not fixed, and fielders can be placed in positions that differ from the basic positions. Most of the positions are named roughly according to a system of polar coordinates—one word (leg, cover, mid-wicket) specifies the angle from the batsman, and is optionally preceded by an adjective describing the distance from the batsman (silly, short, deep or long). Words such as “backward,” “forward” or “square” can further indicate the angle.
Then and now: Students may change but the game is still the same. UB student cricketers in 1970s (bottom) and members of today’s UB Cricket Club (top).
There’s a saying “it’s not just cricket” that has found its way into common language of cricket players and spectators alike. The phrase, or variations thereof, evokes a code of ethics and behavior that has inspired camaraderie between Pakistani and Indian members of UB Cricket Club. While there is intense competition between the nations when playing cricket on an international level, UB club members play together in a truly sportsmanlike manner otherwise known as the “spirit of cricket.” “We play as a team and try to win as a team. There are no differences made, no matter what our nationality,” says Parth Parikh, president of the UB Cricket Club.