I'm sure that the little chirping bugs immediately spring to your mind, but I am not talking insects here. About a decade ago, several intrepid men undertook an effort that mirrors my own work in the last year. Just as I have been working to build a lacrosse program since October, in 1998 "a rag tag group of players calling themselves the Sharks" started playing cricket in the metro. After toiling to make inroads, the group adopted the name The Knights Cricket Club in 1999.
Unlike lacrosse, cricket truly is a foreign sport. Other than having a bat, ball, and pitcher, there is little resemblance to any other sport in the United States. Even those implements are completely different than our own - the bat is flat on one side, the ball is incredibly small, and the "pitcher" is called a bowler. There are eleven players per team, two bases, and three little sticks called wickets. I am not going to get into attempting to describe the rules; the Knights' website has a great description of play written with baseball terms. Making things worse, cricket uses a very large and very specialized field. Again, there is nothing like it in the US sporting world.
Whereas we could pretty much grab and random football or soccer field (or even a flat grass/turf area) to play lacrosse, cricket demands certain conditions and measurements. After playing on poor surfaces and making local soccer clubs unhappy, the Knights managed to convince the West Des Moines Parks & Recreation Department to build a proper cricket ground at Holiday Park. The Holiday Park Oval is the first dedicated cricket ground in the Midwestern US.
Since the Knights' founding, two more teams have joined them at HPO - the Iowa Bulls and the Elite Cricket Club. All three teams compete in the Cricket League of Iowa. The league also features two teams from Cedar Rapids, a team from Omaha, and a team from Ames representing Iowa State University.
The CLIA will begin its second round of 2009 league play on Saturday, July 11. Try to make it out sometime and support something different. Help keep some variety in Des Moines' sports.
Ps. After each team bats, there is a "tea time." But in the good old US of A, the tea is BEER!