It is a story that belongs not only to Peterson but to any number of those, from practically any corner of the world, who play cricket in Minnesota. With hands wrapped around a bat formed out of coconut branches or found wood, the skills and passion for cricket were honed wherever a flat surface could be found. In some cases these were cow pastures or sugar cane fields, said Peterson.
In villages and towns in all these countries experiences like Peterson’s are common. With rules created by the vaunted Marylebone Cricket Club in England, cricket has become the favored sport for youngsters in the Caribbean, India, Pakistan, Australia and other former British colonies. Youngsters playing pick-up cricket develop a passion for the game and a few go on to stellar careers in cricket.
Most take their enthusiasm wherever they go. And it was only natural that upon moving to Minnesota and finding a few like-minded individuals around him that Peterson would start playing cricket here. As a founding member of the Minnesota International Cricket Club, he has seen cricket in Minnesota grow from 18-20 dedicated individuals to 22 teams in two divisions, now administered by the MN Cricket Association (MCA).
Gathering at McCrae Park in Minneapolis or others in Bloomington and Little Canada, the early cricket games were mainly a labor-of-love, said Peterson. It was impossible to create a permanent cricket pitch in parks that were usually home to youth baseball. Eventually, unfettered enthusiasm and dedication would lead to two cricket pitches at Bryn Mawr park which is in some respects the home field. There are three others across the metro area.
An inclusive group
Decades old discussions about forming a women’s cricket league in the Twin Cities have not yet materialized but that doesn’t mean women are only standing on the sidelines. Josine Durant from St. Vincent in the Caribbean came to cricket through her husband Peter. “When I first met Peter he was playing cricket, he told me that he loved cricket and it was important to him, and I knew that I could not tear him away from the sport.”
Consequently, Josine got involved behind the scenes. “This organization welcomes all regardless of national origin, race, gender, religion. I was President for two years and we had an almost all female executive with three of the four members being female.” Josine Durant is chairing the “2009 USA Cricket Invitational Tournament” which takes place over Labor Day weekend. It is the longest continuously running tournament in the USA and this year will feature cricket clinics with notable cricketers, Mike Findlay, Nixon McLean and Ian Allen who all once played professionally on the West Indies Cricket Team.
In the Caribbean cricket is more than just a game. Peterson recalls regional and international tournaments coming to Antigua. “It was like a festival. Families would go to the large enclosed ball park. Those folks with more means were seated in the stands while others of more modest means sat on the ground ringing the boundary. It was colorful, noisy and oh so intriguing to listen to the men embellish their most treasured memory of a long gone star. One popular anecdote involved a man call Babass who batted for three days and scored only three runs,” said Peterson.
The Marylebone document, adopted by the International Cricket Council, outlines 42 laws governing all aspects of cricket matches including scoring, ball change, end game and more. Among the unwritten rules is that players in a tournament, who wore mostly white or cream colored uniforms, would break for the traditional English tea. But change has come to cricket and now players are likely to be wearing all manner of colorful outfits. Around here, rather than tea and scones, the breaks are more likely to be for Jamaican Jerk Chicken or curried goat. And the tea? “Well, let’s just say it’s probably not tea,” said Peterson.
MN Championship – Sat Aug 29 - Bryn Mawr – (12-6P)
USACI – Sept 4th-6th – Bryn Mawr
For more information visit: www.micc-cavaliers.com, www.minnesotacricket.com & www.icc-cricket.com.
Pauline Chandra is a Twin Cities freelance writer who previously reported on education and a range of subjects for Southwest Newspapers.