Midtown: Sports

Triangle Cricket League hopes to grow sport locally

cgrant@newsobserver.com

Srisatya Pusuluri took a break from his cricket match Sunday afternoon to recount how he first discovered the sport.

The 12-year-old from Raleigh said he has been playing cricket for four years, but not long ago he had never heard of the sport.

“One day my dad gave me this weird-looking bat and asked if I wanted to learn how to play cricket,” Pusuluri said. “I said, ‘What is cricket?’ and he taught me the basics and I began to enjoy it. Then I joined the (Triangle Cricket) League and have gotten better.”

League leaders hope to continue to grow the sport – which is more popular in South Asia, England, Australia, South Africa and the West Indies – to attract a larger audience locally.

They hosted teams from across the nation last weekend for the USA Cricket Association U13 National Invitational Tournament hosted by the Triangle Cricket League.

The three-day tournament, which also included teams from Florida and New Jersey, ended with Pusuluri’s Triangle Blue team falling to a club from the California Cricket Association in the championship match at Morrisville’s Cedar Fork District Park.

The league, based in Morrisville, now hosts more than 600 participants of all ages, but league officials want those numbers to grow.

The U.S. Youth Cricket Association has a grassroots program that the Triangle Cricket League hopes to implement, Parth Patel, the league’s treasurer, said.

“We’re going to reach out to all of the physical education departments in all the schools and give them a basic demonstration of how cricket’s played and see if they’d like to include that through their physical education program and see how much interest that spurs from the non-Commonwealth countries,” Patel said.

“That’s going to be our next source of players. There’s only so many ex-pats who come here and play, so our major source for generating new teams and talent is through local training and coaching.”

The tournament was named for Alvin Kallicharan, who had an esteemed career in the sport and once captained the highly successful West Indies team.

He spent time talking to the young players Sunday.

“They aren’t growing up in a cricketing culture like West Indies or India or Pakistan,” Kallicharan, a native of Guyana, said of the Triangle youth players. “They were born in America, so you have to be a bit patient with them.”

The key, he said, is using sports to teach life lessons like decision-making, maturity and teamwork.

“I don’t want people to see the game as an Indian sport,” he said. “It’s not an Indian sport. Cricket is universal. It is international. ... We want to spread the game more in this part of the world.”

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