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Yellowknife’s fieldhouse is now home to regular cricket drop-in sessions for adults, after dedicated players kept the sport going “unofficially” for years.
Previously, you might have seen cricket on fields outside city schools or at Parker Park – bumpy terrain for a sport designed for a perfectly flat playing area, or wicket, off which bowlers bounce the ball.
When Omar Ehtesham moved to Yellowknife 11 years ago, he noticed the city lacked much cricket despite a “solid population from the subcontinent,” where the sport is huge. Thanks to its popularity in India, cricket is routinely listed as second only to soccer for global viewers. India has spent the past month hosting the men’s World Cup – the hosts lost the final to new champions Australia on Sunday.
“We have so many people also coming in from India and Bangladesh,” said Ehtesham. “We know how religious cricket is to us back home.”
“Growing up in India, everyone knows about cricket. I’ve been playing it since I was four years old,” said Amandeep Singh, who moved to Yellowknife in 2020.
Pawan Kumar described a childhood full of tournaments between local villages. When he got to Yellowknife, he said a group played “whenever we found a new field that was available.”
But that meant summertime play only. Having an indoor practice area for the winter was Ehtesham’s motivation to ask the City of Yellowknife if he could volunteer as an instructor for drop-in sessions.
The city began offering sessions for teens and adults in the summer. Adult drop-in cricket is continuing weekly on Saturday evenings until late March or early April.
Earlier this month, the program recorded its highest attendance yet – a session with nearly 20 players.
“It’s gone up substantially, especially after the forest fires,” Ehtesham said.
“Before that, during the summers, maybe six people used to come. There was a time there were only three people, including me. It was very, very slim.”
The fieldhouse guarantees a flat indoor surface and winter warmth. Games are played using a tapeball – a tennis ball wrapped in tape that reproduces many of the effects and movements of a real cricket ball, without quite the same weight.
Ehtesham said the equipment provided is from his home – Karachi, in Pakistan. “As soon as you hold the bat, you’re like, oh, wow,” he said, enthusing about the quality. “You need to feel that, and if you don’t, it is just futile.”
Anmol Kumar Garg, a regular at the fieldhouse, said not having a big cricket field like those back home temporarily disconnected him from the sport. In Yellowknife, he has now found a community to keep that connection going.
He was among attendees at a Saturday evening session who were planning to stay up all night to watch the India-Australia World Cup final. Other nations that qualified for this year’s World Cup were Afghanistan, Bangladesh, England, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka. While Canada does have a national team, it isn’t
Cricket takes place in “overs” that usually involve six balls each. The World Cup this year featured the 50-over game, which generally speaking takes six to seven hours to play. Two teams bat once each, scoring runs by hitting the ball around a circular field (scoring four if it reaches a white outer rope named the boundary, or six if it clears the rope without bouncing). Each 11-person team has 10 wickets, the equivalents of baseball’s outs, to protect.
A typical scoreline from the World Cup? Australia won the final by scoring 241-4 (241 runs, losing four wickets), chasing a total of 240 all out (all 10 wickets lost) set by India.
Other forms of cricket can last as long as five days. Popular formats introduced more recently, like T20, take just a couple of hours. Canada will play in the men’s T20 World Cup for the first time ever next year after qualifying last month.
Ehtesham hopes the sport grows sufficiently in Yellowknife to sustain a youth program. An attempt to get that off the ground in October faltered when it couldn’t reach the minimum of six registrations needed.
“We didn’t get that for the past fall, so we’re hoping to get back in the groove this coming winter,” he said. “Hopefully, we can have the same program for youth and open a spot for adults who are completely new to the game.”
A WhatsApp group for people interested in the drop-in program had 52 members as of Sunday.
Ehtesham, who calls himself a “crazy cricket lover,” thinks there is potential for the sport to flourish in Yellowknife.
Having learned to carve out a place for himself with friends and family, he said living in Yellowknife for 11 years now “feels like 11 days.”
We update regularly World Latest Breaking Business News here. We update 2023-11-20 18:25:00 this news story from official website – https://cabinradio.ca/161629/news/yellowknife/cricket-in-yellowknife-knows-no-boundaries-heres-when-to-play/.”
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