Skip to main content
University at Buffalo

UB Today

A publication of the University at Buffalo Alumni Association

Fall 2013





Join the Alumni Association

UBAA on Facebook

To stop receiving the print version and read UB Today online, > click here

To view a virtual version of the print magazine > click here. To view the PDF version of this issue > click here

UB club members and quarterfinal finishers in the 2013 American College Cricket National Championship.

Jiminy Cricket!

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.

From Jersey Boy to Cricket Expert: A chat with UB Prof Patrick McDevitt

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 baseball game.

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 fans?

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 the U.S.?

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.

The Playing Field

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.

UB Cricket Club president Parth Parikh is an all-rounder—meaning he performs well at batting and bowling. Most cricketers are skilled in only one of the two disciplines.

Stumped yet?
So are the players. When a batsman misses the ball and steps out of his crease in play, the wicket-keeper can grab the ball and break the wicket before the batsman gets back into his crease. Being stumped is just one of 10 ways of getting out in the game.

Sobab Bhatti is team wicketkeeper. The wicket-keeper is the only member of the fielding side permitted to wear gloves and external leg guards.

It’s a zoo out there!
All sorts of colorful descriptions are used for a bad performance on the field. Didn’t score any runs while up to bat? That’s said to be out for a duck. It’s a golden duck if it is a player’s first time up at bat in the game. Poor batsman? Be prepared to call the player a rabbit. Even worse batsman? That player is a ferret.

White balls (left) and red leather balls (right) are used for specific types of professional cricket. Red synthetic (top) and yellow tennis balls (bottom) are for practice and street play, respectively.

Rhymes with cricket...
Behind the batter is the wicket. It comprises three stumps (wooden posts) topped by a pair of bails (wooden crosspieces that sit atop the stumps).

Fashion on the field.
When playing with white balls during games of One Day International (ODI), players wear brightly colored uniforms. The game of Test Cricket uses a red ball and uniforms are plain white.

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).

Spirit of the Game

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.