The game of cricket was founded in 16th-century England and remains a game played widely outside of the United States. However, at South Burlington High School (SBHS), cricket is very much alive, thanks to the vision and hard work of SBHS juniors Deo Pokhrel and Prabin Sharma, the generosity of Activities Director Mike O’Day, the support of club advisor and SBHS social studies teacher Kim Watkin, and the perseverance of over twenty Cricket Club members who have been taking part in this after-school activity.
“Prabin and I thought it would be a great way to start something unique in our school,” reflected Mr. Pokhrel on the history of the club. “We thought about people who try out for a sport, and they never make it on the team. With cricket, if you come to practice, you’re automatically on the team.”
Ms. Watkin respected this vision and offered to be the club advisor if a core group of students were interested. It didn’t take much to recruit students to take part. “I was very impressed with Deo’s leadership in teaching fellow students about the game while talking to the ones who had played before and wanted the game to be faster,” noted Ms. Watkin. “And Prabin was our equipment manager, carefully keeping track of all the equipment.”
Equipment included bats, balls (the club used tennis balls to make learning the sport safer), and wickets. “Before we got equipment,” smiled Ms. Watkin, reminiscing, “our first wickets were pieces of trees from the forest in back of the school that the players had to whittle. They made it work.”
Mr. O’Day ordered equipment for the players and added jerseys and hats from SBHS’s supplies. The next challenge was finding local high school teams to play. “For a long time,” Ms. Watkin explained, “we had inter-squad play – just playing each other.” Eventually the Cricket Club played a club at Burlington High School and later a group of students at Essex High School.
In this upcoming year, the club hopes to expand and dreams of someday becoming a varsity sport. Ms. Watkin celebrates this expansion and the historical richness the sport brings to Vermont communities: “From my point of view as a history teacher, I appreciate how important cricket became to those countries who had been part of the British Empire. Many of our participants played cricket in their native countries, or their parents had played.”
Junior Neel Desai agreed: “I chose to participate in the club mainly to just play the game, which I used to when I was little in India. My father also played growing up in India. The thing I love most about cricket is its competitive nature. Because we all became friends, it was fun to go hard at each other.”
“I am originally from Sri Lanka, and so a lot of people play cricket there like people play football and soccer in the United States,” continued senior Fathima Sameen. “I loved it. It also doesn’t take a long time to learn the rules because it is simple: you just hit and run. Cricket is a team bonding sport. The club started last year and is very new to many people, so joining is a good idea because you will definitely fit in and have a lot of fun.”
The South Burlington High School Cricket Club is open to new members. No experience or equipment is necessary. The club practices Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. For more information, please contact Ms. Watkin at 652-7075.