The autumnal breeze began to bite, the spectators started to shiver, and still, the other team had not arrived. The Vassar College Cricket Association (VCCA) was warming up, their bowlers throwing balls across the field like a slingshot. The letters “V” and “C” were written on the players’ cheeks in black makeup. Someone had set up a portable speaker and microphone, and an impromptu emcee was entertaining the crowd with cheesy cricket jokes: “What is your favorite musical? Wicket.” “Why do grasshoppers not like soccer? Because they prefer cricket.” The small crowd kept their spirits high on the aluminum bleachers, discussing their (lack of) knowledge of the sport while huddled in their beanies and scarves. After 45 minutes had passed since the official start time, the Colgate team arrived, clad in their black uniforms and greeted by Vassar’s jersey-less, restless players with their impatient fans.
Indeed, part of the criticism of cricket is the waiting around. Cricket began as a “gentleman’s game” in England, lasting as long as five days with tea breaks. In the 18th century, Lord’s became the home for cricket, located in St. Marylebone and named after cricket’s founder Thomas Lord, according to Encyclopædia Britannica. The sport became popular domestically, with university matches like the Oxford-Cambridge rivalry being highly anticipated in the summer. Soon, county cricket, where English counties played other counties, also boomed. And as Britain continued their imperialist ambitions, they spread cricket to their colonies. British colonies, like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and Australia, excelled at the sport, becoming even better than their colonizers. While England maintained the traditional rules of the game in Test cricket, with unlimited overs lasting up to five days, everywhere else—most notably India and Pakistan—established limited overs for a more modernized, competitive game that fans could watch in one sitting. In 1975, England hosted the first World Cup, composed of one-day matches of 60 overs a side. The West Indies won the first two World Cups, and in the third World Cup in 1983, England did not even make the finals. India won this World Cup, hosting the next World Cup in 1987, which was the first to be held outside of England. These wins provided the impetus for cricket to be more than just an English gentleman’s pastime—cricket was a symbol for democratization and community. VCCA provides a space for this community at Vassar.
Vice President of the VCCA Anshuman Das ’25 spoke to this sentiment of community, stating, “Cricket is more than just the sport itself. A lot of us grew up in our respective nations or have families that come from there. It’s a way to stay connected with our roots and the greater community, especially for people from the [Indian] Subcontinent.”
The VCCA was co-founded last semester by Dan Kuruvila ’25 and Ibrahim Waheed ’25 to foster the cricket community that Das referred to. Kuruvila, who grew up in India, concurred with Das that cricket was a major part of culture and entertainment beyond being a mere sport. Kuruvila reflected, “When my family moved to the United States, I missed being part of a community that shared this passion [of cricket]. Later on, upon coming to college, I quickly realized that cricket was generally played informally, if at all, and mostly by international students coming from South Asia.” Despite initial resistance in establishing the organization because of its seemingly low popularity on campus, sufficient student interest supported Kuruvila and Waheed in establishing the club. Kuruvila continued, “Our main goal is to create an inclusive environment where everyone, regardless of their background, can learn, play and enjoy cricket.” Their first game was against Colgate College last Saturday, Nov. 11, on Weinberg Turf Field.
The rules of cricket are complex, to say the least. The batting team has two players on the field on either end of the pitch, and on each side of the pitch is a wicket. A wicket has three stumps with two bails on top. Each batsman stands in front of their wicket. The bowler is the equivalent of a pitcher, who slings the ball in an overhand throw, bouncing once, toward the batsman. The batsman’s objective is to hit the ball and exchange positions with the other batsman on the other side of the pitch. Each exchange is one run. While the batsmen run, the fielders on the other team retrieve the ball and try to hit the wicket before the batsman returns to the side of the pitch. If they do not make it in time, the batsman is out, and a new batsman comes in. If the batsman hits it to the boundary of the oval field, they earn four runs. If they hit the ball over the boundary, they get six runs. If the fielder catches the ball in the air, similar to baseball, the batsman is out. The bowler can get a batsman out if their throw hits the wicket behind the batsman, similar to a strike. If the batsman swings and misses the ball, they will not be out—so long as the wicket behind them remains unhit. The bowler can deliver only six pitches at a time, which is known as an over. After a bowler throws six times, a field player replaces him. When 10 of the 11 batsmen are out, or if the overs are done (the over limit can vary depending on the game)—whichever comes first—this constitutes an inning, and the other team bats. Typically, there are two innings. The team with the most runs by the end of the match wins. In the match against Colgate, there were 14 overs with a maximum of three overs per bowler (typically there is a maximum of four overs per bowler).
As the fans googled the rules of the game and shared their findings to the stand, the emcee on the field also relayed a play-by-play, declaring (and then correcting themself on) how many runs the batter scored or if a batter got out. A portable scoreboard propped in the front further kept the fans up to date with this high-scoring game, and a “V-C-C-A” cheer resounded from the crowd every time Vassar scored a six.
Perhaps this is most telling of the community cricket has garnered—players and fans alike, regardless of their knowledge of the sport, were able to come together and enjoy the afternoon despite the cold and other schoolwork they may have had. Kuruvila noted, “Our team went in with a mindset to have fun and give it our best shot, which was made much easier with the fans we had.”
As the match came to a close, the players batting and bowling in the floodlights of the turf field since the sun had set, the final score ended up being 121-7 for Vassar and 96-4 for Colgate—this translates to 121 runs and seven wickets (seven players got out in the whole game) for Vassar and 96 runs and four wickets for Colgate. The win was an important one—their first match as an official organization was a crucial win to prove themselves to the community as a legitimate, serious team. Kuruvila followed up, “Our team performed exceptionally, leading to our first victory against a college team. This win was a big confidence boost for us.” After the match, VCCA and Colgate’s cricket club attended South Asian Student Alliance’s Mock Shaadi and then ate lunch together the following day.
In the future, VCCA hopes to increase interest in cricket, planning collegiate matches a few times per semester and inviting students to learn how to play the sport. Current members of the team vary in experience level themselves, each with their own interest in cricket. Wicketkeeper Oliver Stewart ’25 [Disclaimer: Stewart is a Columnist for The Miscellany News], for example, expressed how he became involved on the team, stating, “I’m half English, so I remember visiting my grandparents and watching test matches on TV, which is probably my earliest and most prominent cricket memory.” He continued: “This was our first serious match, but everyone got really into it and we were all communicating well and supporting each other throughout the match. I also like how beginner-friendly the cricket club is—there are always people learning, and all of us are improving together as we play.” Eventually, with proper funding, VCCA hopes to join the American College Cricket League and gain club sports recognition.
Cricket, though a sport originated in English imperialism, has demonstrated its ability to free itself from these historic roots. Beyond the intricate rules and extensive length of the game, cricket is a way for students to reconnect, whether that is with their own culture or with each other in finding a commonality they did not realize they had. VCCA continues cricket’s story and impact as the first cricket organization at Vassar, proving that a sport as seemingly niche as this one can still be a uniting force in the community.