Did you know that Oklahoma City has a championship cricket team? A better starting question might be: What exactly is cricket? It’s a bat-and-ball game dating back to 16th century England, then called “creckett.” The modern sport resembles baseball, except that the “batter” is also protecting a wicket behind him.
Imagine a magnet in Oklahoma City, strong enough to attract cricket enthusiasts from playing countries around the world. The formation of the first local team happened rather like that—except that instead of a magnet, a newfangled invention called the Internet drew the players together in the early 2000s. Nearly every player on that early team represented a different country. Cricket is a common, competitive sport internationally, but it is just starting to catch on in the United States. Oklahoma was an early adopter.
“It happened organically. Cricket players moved to Oklahoma for jobs and started Google-searching for players in the area. They found each other,” said team player, Nathan Kerswill.
That was in early 2000. The first team was comprised of players from places as far as India and Bangladesh. Now, Pakistan, Granada, Sri Lanka, England, New Zealand, the Caribbean and other countries are represented as part of the team known as the Strikers Cricket Team. Nathan, a more recent player, is one of only a few players born in the United States.
“I first learned about cricket when I was channel surfing in Australia. I got the basic idea of the game, and it stuck with me. Back in the U.S., I came across a cricket match while looking for a soccer game. I thought, ‘Why isn’t everyone watching this?’ It just got into my blood.”
Like the other players, Nathan found the team via the internet—and cricket is now a big part of his life. Not only does the sport satisfy his need for athletic involvement, he’s part of an international collective that has opened his eyes to cultures around the world.
“It’s interesting, really fantastic, to be part of such a diverse group of people,” Nathan said. “During lunch breaks, I might have the chance to sample homemade foods from India or another country. The best part is how welcoming everyone is to anyone interested in trying cricket or just watching.”
Not only do the Strikers players have great camaraderie, they have succeeded in winning two league championships against other states. “We are an all-amateur club, but we are competitive,” Nathan said. “Hopefully we’ll bring home another trophy for Oklahoma this year.”
The team currently practices at Douglass Park in Oklahoma City each Thursday evening at 5:30. Cricket games, especially playoffs, can run many hours long, so theplayers’ time investment is lengthy. Since many of the players have families with young children, it is common for family and fans to drop by for only portions of the game. “We all have daytime jobs and families, so we are fortunate that they are willing to allow us to play. It’s because of them we can play this sport we love,” Nathan said. “We love having the public watch us play this fantastic game. Maybe they will catch the cricket bug too.”
To learn more visit www.okcstrikers.com or International Cricket Council.