Many students do not have the faintest clue that a club sport at Mason won a national championship only a year and half ago.
A far cry from the fame won by the Final Four basketball team in 2006, the club cricket team has not received much accolation for their success.
Hashim Khan, who graduated last spring, founded the team two years ago.
“It was hard to recruit members for the team, I remember Hashim telling me, as many Americans have never even heard of the sport,” said Muhammad Awais, current president of the cricket club. “I joined immediately.”
This did not hold the team back, as they went on to win the collegiate cricket championship their first year as a club sport, becoming the 2010-2011 national champions.
Mason shockingly beat out Montgomery College, the 2009 national champions, and favored team, 138 runs to 124 runs at the cricket national championship held in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“It was an amazing feeling to be a part of such talent,” said Awais. “No one expected us to beat Montgomery, and to exceed people’s expectations was truly an experience.”
Cricket, a sport often compared to baseball, has not gotten much coverage in America, being first created in Southern England and played as far back as the sixteenth century.
The game is played on a circular grass field. 11 players from each team are on the field at all times.
In the middle of the field lies the pitch, which is a 22-yard, flat and narrow strip in which the main elements of the game take place.
There is one wicket at both ends of the pitch. A wicket is made up of three wooden poles, which are hammered into the ground with two wooden crosspieces, called bails, placed perfectly between the tops of the polls.
Two batters, called batsmen, stand at opposite sides of the pitch.
One batter hits at a time, standing in front of a wicket. The batter’s job is to defend the wicket he is in front of by hitting the ball in an attempt to score runs with his teammate.
Runs are scored after the ball is hit, by both batsmen running along the side of the pitch, past each other and tagging the opposite end, called the crease, with either their body or the bat, which they hold onto at all times.
“It’s like running a 22-yard dash, honestly,” Awais said. “The faster the batter is, the more runs he can accumulate before the ball is thrown back to the bowler.”
A bowler, like a pitcher in baseball, delivers the ball by “running-up” and throwing the ball in an attempt to knock the bail off of the wicket, which results in an out.
If the batter successfully hits the ball, the other team can catch in the ball before hitting the ground, also resulting in an out.
“The cool thing about cricket is you can hit the ball in any direction,” Awais said. “There are no foul balls, so it really gives the batsmen a lot of options as to where the perfect spot to hit the ball would be. “
Different than baseball also and interesting to note, only the wicket keeper, who stands behind the batter, wears gloves during a game.
Mason’s Cricket season starts up in the spring, with practices resuming in a month.
This year, the team is set to practice at two different locations: The Washington Baseball Club, in Woodbridge, Va. and Mark Twain Middle School, in Alexandria, Va.
“I’ve been talking to Bob Spousta about letting us possibly practice behind the RAC right here at Mason, which would make getting to practice so much easier,” Awais said. “He’s still debating the idea, but I’ve got fingers crossed.”
Any person who has an interest in the game can join the club cricket team, with no prior experience being required.
The club is trying to expand their presence on campus this year and raise more awareness about this underappreciated team.
“Unfortunately, we lost a lot of talent due to people graduating last year,” Awais said. “We may not be en route to go to Fort Lauderdale this year, as only about half of our team now has competitively played the game before. This will be more of a developing year.”