Sunday, April 6, 2003

UC's cricket club gearing up for season


College update

By Ryan Ernst
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Vijay Sundaresan, a University of Cincinnati student, plays one of the most popular sports in the world. On most parts of the globe, it takes a backseat only to soccer.

Yet when Sundaresan and his teammates play a pickup game on campus, they get blank stares and plenty of interesting questions.

"What's this called?"

"What's the object?"

"It takes how long?"

"Do we have a team?"

The game is cricket. Like baseball, the objective is to score more runs than the opposition before running out of outs. In one-day cricket, games take six to eight hours to play. In test cricket, however, games take five days, or if you're scoring at home, a work week.

And yes, UC has a team.

The UC cricket club was founded in 1990. It will start practice again at the end of this month, preparing for the summer's big competition, the two-month Midwest Cricket Tournament. UC won the title in 1999 and made it to the quarterfinals last season.

The club holds tryouts once a year and usually keeps about 20 players. And because the sport, in its 700-plus years of existence, has yet to catch on in the United States, the club draws its players almost entirely from the university's international population.

"Asia, India, New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka mostly," said Sundaresan, the club's president. "That's where most of our players are from, because that's where the game is very popular. For instance, I'm from India. There, almost everyone plays the sport. It's like baseball."

Cricket can be compared to baseball not only in its popularity but also in its rules - to the layman at least. Here's a crash course:

• There are two batters at a time who stand at opposite sides of the "pitch." When one hits the ball, they run back and forth to score runs.

• The "bowler" is similar to a pitcher and is one of 11 players on the field.

• The "stumps" that sit behind the batter are similar to a strike zone, but one strike and the batter is out.

• Catching the ball on a fly is an out, as is throwing the ball and hitting the stumps while a batter is trying to score a run.

• The "crease," or safe zone, is like the batter's box and a base wrapped into one.

• And there are home runs, kind of. There is a boundary at the end of the field. When a player hits a ball over it on a fly, it earns the batter's team six runs. If the ball rolls or bounces out, it gets four runs.

• Each team bats until all its players are out or until a bowler throws 50 "overs," the equivalent of six balls. Each team bats only once in one-day cricket.

Get it?

Sundaresan said most people don't, the first time around.

"People will try to look and understand it and ask questions, but they usually don't stay long enough to really understand it," he said. "But people are definitely interested by it."

Those interested in joining the UC cricket club can contact the university office of student organizations and activities.

Others

• Michigan swimmer Dan Ketchum, a Sycamore graduate, finished third in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships. Stanford's Jayme Cramer, a St. Xavier product, finished fifth in both the 200 and 100 butterfly. Former St. X teammate Garth Fealy, a senior at Princeton, finished 29th in the 200 breaststroke.

• Wyoming grad David Payne, a University of Cincinnati hurdler, won Conference USA athlete of the week honors after beating four All-Americans last week in the 110-meter hurdles. Teammate Jo Young won female athlete of the week honors after breaking a school record in the shot put.

• Miami freshman pitcher Graham Taylor, a Dixie Heights graduate, was named last week's Mid-American Conference player of the week.

• Mark Sheppard, a senior shortstop at Mount St. Joseph from Roger Bacon, was 7-for-13 last week en route to collecting the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference player of the week award. In men's tennis, the award went to fellow MSJ athlete Eric Goshorn, a St. Xavier alumnus.

• Lakota West grad Ashley Jones, an Ohio Northern freshman, was women's tennis player of the week in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

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E-mail rernst@enquirer.com




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