Volume 93, Issue x

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Put them in, Coach, Western is ready to play

TSN becomes death match

The rebirth of cricket: the cycle of sporting life

Scrummaging answers from Natascha Wesch

The rebirth of cricket: the cycle of sporting life

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

Cricket – it's not just a chirp in the grass anymore.

Two years ago the Pakistani Student's Association requested the sport of cricket be re-instated at the intramural level, since it had long ago crumbled from lack of funding. This was a new beginning to a sport with a glorious past.

Saleh Zaidi, president of the Western Cricket Club, said he hopes to have at least 8 to 10 teams this year, improving on last year's league of six.

"This year we have a large inflow of Pakistani, Indian and West Indian students into the university who are interested in the sport. What I would really like to see is a lot of caucasian students coming out for the club," Zaidi said.

Although cricket is not as popular as other sports at Western, Zaidi said it is popular in Ontario and even more so in British Columbia. "There is a lot of British ancestry in B.C. who are still into the sport. B.C. has former international players, who are now retired, playing in the many leagues out west."

According to Zaidi, cricket is also a popular sport in the Pakistani culture. "It is more like a religion than a sport to us," he said.

Sam Mohan, president of the London Cricket Club, said his organization usually tries to set up one or two games with the university either in the early spring or late fall. "It's hard because everyone leaves London and goes home in the summer. We also have to compete with all of the other sports – baseball, soccer, hockey."

Mohan said Western cricket was a varsity funded sport during the early '60s – when Mohan was team captain. "It used to be a four team league made up of ourselves, Guelph, Waterloo and Windsor [universities]," he said.

A crunch for funding coupled with the university getting sticky about things like field space and parking eventually lead to the folding of the team, Mohan said.

"Western had their team but alumni, like myself, played on the team for years after graduation. After the team lost funding, we were forced to move and create the Four City Cricket Club. I later left that club to create the London chapter," Mohan said.

In the last few years, London Cricket Club membership has decreased but since taking over as president, Mohan said they are already starting to rise. "The key was moving to the heart of the city so that the kids have a way of getting down to the field."

Taz Akbar, who co-ordinates the second division cricket teams in British Columbia, said there are a lot of things going on in the more than 40 teams which span the five divisions in B.C.. "The entire league is made up of a bunch of young guys from all over the world who love playing cricket. We have lots of players from South Africa, India, Pakistan – it's a very multicultural league," he said.

While cricket does not compare to the Canadian Football League or National Hockey League in B.C., Akbar said it is definitely tops in the multicultural parts of the province. "The entire league, from the president down, is very professionally run. I believe there is a lot of cricket played in Montreal and Toronto, it is all relative to the multicultural population base in those areas," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999