From wickets to bowlers, exchanging bases to Twenty20 and six-hour-long games, University of Minnesota students are oftentimes understandably confused by cricket.
"We don’t have many spectators yet," said Aakash Jain, vice president of Minnesota Team Cricket at the University.
"I think there’s an interest in cricket," Minnesota Team Cricket’s student adviser and coach Charles Peterson said. "We’ve had so many requests to join the club in the last few months it’s unreal."
Despite growing interest, trying to find funding and a foothold for the game at the University has grounded the group.
Minnesota Team Cricket was founded in January and is considered a club by University definition, but that designation is costing the team. It has no University funding and must pay for equipment and practice space.
In 2004, another cricket team was founded on the University campus, but struggled to keep the majority of its members University students. The University Cricket Club still exists today, but due in part to its difficulties recruiting new members, it lost recognition as an official student organization.
Minnesota Team Cricket must prove to have more longevity than the University Cricket Club if it is to count itself among teams officially recognized by the University.
That recognition would help the team reserve practice time in one of the few available venues, the University Field House.
Complicating matters, the team requires a space the size of 1 1/2 baseball diamonds to practice fully.
"There’s no place to play," Jain said. "It’s winter for eight months, and so we have to play inside."
Getting last pick of time slots results in inconsistent practice times and conflicts between students’ night classes or weekend jobs and practice.
"We basically see what’s available when there’s free time at the Field House," Peterson said.
Last winter the team found itself sporadically practicing on a basketball court. In fact, the first time the team ever played on an outdoor field was when it went to the American College Cricket tournament in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in March.
"We didn’t have enough funding, so a lot of people couldn’t go, and our coach … had to pay for some of us," Jain said of the tournament, which the team hopes to compete in again this upcoming year.
"We did manage to put together some uniforms [for Florida]," Peterson said with a laugh. "We bought some University of Minnesota jerseys from Kohl’s because Kohl’s had them on sale."
Today, the game is most popular in countries that were former British colonies: Pakistan, India and Australia, for example.
The United States managed to subvert the cricket legacy. Accordingly, most University students know next to nothing about the game.
"It’s kind of like baseball," Jain explained. "There is one person who’s batting, and there’s another person who’s running, so there are two people from one team who are batting as compared to in baseball when there’s only one."
Games come in three formats, but Minnesota Team Cricket focuses on just one format called Twenty20, which consists of 20 overs. In baseball terms, that’s about 120 legal pitches.
"I totally love the game," Minnesota Team Cricket president Utsav Maheswari said.
And it’s a love of the game that is helping students stick with cricket while the money is tight.
The team has been raising awareness of its sport and fundraising around campus to help finance the trip to Florida. By showing an Indian Premier League cricket match on campus, the team garnered quite a bit of interest for itself and its sport.
This year Minnesota Team Cricket will be applying for student group funding to pay for equipment, uniforms and a space to play.
Team members will be expected to chip in a small membership fee of around $10-$15 to help shoulder costs.
"We welcome everyone," Peterson said.