By Anastasia Brunson
If you've never been to a cricket match the first thing that may surprise you is the circular layout of the field. There are painted boundaries marking the infield and the outfield, and at the center is the pitch with a wicket at each end. The pitch is where a batter will face off against a bowler -- the one throwing (bowling) the ball. The bats are also much different than what you see in somewhat similar games like baseball and softball, a cricket bat has a flat side and a ridge on the reverse side.
Onto a brief overview of how a cricket match works: there are two teams with eleven players each, and two umpires on the field as well. They will take turns batting and playing the field, first one team then the other. With a local match like this one, each team plays a total of twenty overs and each over is comprised of six balls. For reference, professional teams play fifty overs each. There will be two batters on the field at once, one at each wicket, but only one batting at a time. Points are made through runs. When the batter successfully hits the ball the two batters will run back and forth from wicket to wicket. Points can easily climb into the hundreds.
The cricket match between MARV and Vaqueros held by the IARGV (India Association of RGV) that I attended on October 21 was played at the Dr. William Long City/School Park in Pharr. Cricket matches have been held here for the last five years, before this location came to be matches took place at a Weslaco park for twenty years previous.
Prior to the match, spectators had a chance to partake in some Indian cuisine. There were tables with a rice dish that had pieces of potato and pomegranate, a tasty trail mix type snack made from chickpea flour, and chai tea, along with other refreshments.
Kirti Singh, the president of the IARGV, spoke and gave thanks to everyone that came to partake as well as the sponsors. The current sponsors are Lone Star National Bank, Mission Regional Medical Center, Ruby Red Hospitality, MyCare Medical, and Catalyst Medical Group. Other speakers included the Pharr City Manager Jonathan Flores, PSJA School Board President Cynthia Gutierrez, and the Pharr City Commissioner Place 1 Michael Pacheco.
Everyone expressed interest in the game of cricket and learning more about how it's played. Acknowledgements were made that cricket has had a resurgence in popularity lately, so much so that it will be included in the 2028 Olympics. The City of Pharr even hopes to have its own cricket team next year to be able to join the current five teams that play in these local tournaments. It was also mentioned that the game of cricket can be played by men and women of any and every body type, so it's a very welcoming sport where you don't have to be very tall or muscular to be able to participate. Lastly, the American and Indian national anthems were sung.
A coin toss then took place to determine who would be first to bat or bowl, then the game started with MARV first to bat. As the game went on, I paid attention to things such as how the ball was being bowled, it seems that a running start is usually taken. When the ball was being caught and thrown back towards the pitch, I also noticed that gloves or mitts were not used in this game. Occasionally a ball would be hit hard enough that it would make its way beyond the fencing and out of bounds, allowing the batters to score multiple runs much to their teams’ joy and celebration. Over time hundreds of points were scored by each team, with MARV having the winning score.
Cricket matches will continue to be held each Saturday and Sunday until the finals on November 12. You can find information along with the schedule online at www.iargv.org or on their Facebook page, India Association of RGV (IARGV). Another upcoming event that is being held by the IARGV is the Diwali Festival of Lights at the McAllen Convention Center on November 11. All these events are a great opportunity to get out and learn something new right here in the Valley.