MSU Cricket Club: Birth of Cricket Fever in Mississippi State University

- Kaustubh Kulkarni
January 2003

    Cricket is known to be the game of Lords and Gentleman in England but in Indian subcontinent its a common mans soul. The next few weeks are very important for the cricketing fraternity because it will decide who is the world champion. Fourteen nations are competing to become world champions. But what is cricket and why it is so popular in continents like the Asia, Africa, Australia, etc.? The game of cricket was first played by Englishmen and was promoted by British to their colonies. So, it is very popular in countries like India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa and West Indies, apart from England. The West Indian team was dominant force till early 90s but after that Australia and South Africa are trying to be best teams followed by other countries. The popularity of cricket is increasing day by day. This is evident from the fact that when first cricket World Cup started it had only 8 nations but today it has 14 members and many other nations trying to qualify for this tournament. Since cricket can be played with around 22 players and with very cheap equipment and just open fields, its very popular in Asian countries. Cricket is also widely played in United States. United States also fielded its team for qualifying for the World Cup but unfortunately it was not able to qualify. But Canada has qualified for the World Cup and is playing in the world cup. There are lots of local leagues in the major cities of US. People from different origins take part in these leagues. Slowly, but steadily cricket is picking up its popularity in the Unites States.
Cricket is a clash between two teams of eleven fine young men each and their strategic thinking over opponent team members. The winner is the team that is better not just skill wise but also strategy wise. A team is always led by a skipper who is responsible for taking decisions in the field. Skipper and his deputy are the think tanks of the team. The rest of the team sticks to the game plan, which is decided by the skipper, his deputy and the coach. The skipper ofcourse continuously reviews the game plan as the game proceeds. The coach cannot interfere once the team is out on the field.
    Before further discussion about cricketing strategies can be made, it is necessary to understand how it is played. Cricket in modern times is played in two versions: the Test Match and the One-day. A test match is played for five days. A team that bats has to be bowled out by the team that is bowling before the bowling team can bat. In one-day tournament, the time a team can bat is limited for fifty overs after that the other team gets to bat. Bowling is similar to pitching in baseball but with some differences. A team generally has four or more bowlers (players who can bowl), a wicketkeeper and rest are batsmen (players who can bat). Cricket ground is either circular or oval shaped. Oval shaped grounds are more popular than circular ones. In center of ground is a 22 yards pitch. At the both ends of pitch 3 sticks are put. These sticks are called wickets. The bowler bowls from one end of the pitch and he has to hit the wickets. The batsman stands at the opposite end of bowler and protects his wickets by hitting the ball with his bat. This batsman is called striker. At the bowlers end, there is another batsman who is called runner. The striker hits the ball and runs towards the bowlers end and runner runs towards the strikers end. When the striker and runner reach the opposite ends then one run is scored. The other members of bowlers team are fielding around the pitch to prevent the two batsmen from crossing. The wicket keeper stands behind the wickets of striker to catch the bowls that is left by the striker and also to prevent him from taking runs. A batsman can get out when either his wicket is hit by bowler or if he is caught or his stump is hit by a fielder while he is trying to cross over to other end to score a run. The bowler bowls 6 times from one end of pitch. This set of 6 bowls is called an over. In one-day matches, the fielding team bowls fifty overs and then it bats for same number of overs. Whenever a batsman hits a ball and the ball pitches in the ground and then goes out of the ground, it is called a boundary is scored. The batting team gets 4 runs for this. When the ball goes out of ground without pitching on the ground its a six i.e. batting team gets six runs for this hit. So, team batting first scores runs in their stipulated overs and the team batting second tries to cross that target. The team with maximum number of runs wins. Batting team can have maximum of 11 batsmen and when ten batsmen are out, the batting teams innings ends even if its 50 overs quota is not over. A team can bat or bowl only once. The team with maximum score after the end of innings of the both the teams is the winning team. If the team batting second crosses the target run then it is immediately declared winner and the game is stopped.
    At MSU, some of Indian students have come together to form a cricket club to promote cricket in MSU. The cricket club is promoting the one-day version of cricket. The innings at MSU is generally of 16 overs because it is very tiresome for amateurs to bat and bowl for 50 overs. The current cricket version followed at MSU is with tennis ball and not with the regular cricket ball. But recently it got funds to get regular cricketing gear and currently is in search of proper cricket ground. Currently, members play on Drill field on the weekends, as the game requires that half of the drill field.