When he was only 17 years old, one of the UTD cricket team’s newest members received an invitation to try out for the International Cricket Council’s under-19 USA team.
Born in Australia, finance freshman Karthik Gattepalli moved to the U.S. six years ago due to his father’s work.
“In Australia, it’s something that’s just part of the culture, it’s just something you play every summer,” he said.
He started to get serious when he was around 10 or 11, when he played at state trials with his team in Australia and realized how big the sport was.
During practice, he said he focuses on a specific skill he wants to improve and chooses quality in his training rather than quantity.
“For me, I feel like practicing every day puts too much mental strain on me,” Gattepalli said. “Whatever I want to improve on that day, on that practice day I do it, I try to focus on it as much as possible.”
To receive this opportunity, players participate in up to six tryouts over a period of one and a half years. Gattepalli had to participate in three of these trials before he was guaranteed a spot on the team. The earlier tryouts have more people participating, and as the rounds go on, the group is narrowed down.
“It’s been harder as the years progressed because more people are interested in the game and people are getting better,” Gattepalli said. “So, it’s getting harder and harder, but at the same time, the level of cricket is also improving because people are getting more competitive.”
The final team has 14 players, with four reserve players. Gattepalli was on the main team, and participated in the World Cup qualifiers this summer.
Gattepalli’s team lost against the Canadian team in the final match by fractions of a point, 1.162 versus 1.305. Despite this, Gattepalli said the USA team performed well, even though there is a big gap in experience between the two teams.
“Teams like Canada have already gone to the World Cup several times, they’re a lot more experienced. We haven’t gone to a World Cup in almost six years, so the experience we have compared to them is really low,” Gattepalli said.
They had previously won out against the Canadian squad earlier in the tournament, proving that they could triumph over them, but Gattepalli said the team also needed more self-confidence.
“We lacked self-belief I guess, but some of the senior guys stepped up in the tournament, and we tried our best to make it to the World Cup,” Gattepalli said. “If we just pushed ourselves like another half a percent more, that could have maybe put us through the world cup.”
Despite their loss, Gattepalli learned a lot and wants to keep improving as a player. He said he will use this knowledge to help the UTD cricket team improve.
The most valuable lesson he learned was the importance of team chemistry and spirit.
“We got to make sure we all support each other and not play for themselves, but more for the team,” Gattepalli said. “In the NFL, you play to get the touchdown or get the throw, no one plays for their own yards or their own catches, it’s a team sport in the end.”
In previous years, the team had almost entirely graduate students. However, this year is different and they have a lot of new undergraduates participating.
To play well, Gattepalli said having a good mentality is important.
“The best thing you can do, stay humble. Staying humble is probably the best way to better your game and better your team’s game,” he said.
Gattepalli said he does not think he will have any difficulties gaining the respect of the older team members.
“I do think they have the respect for me as much as I have for them,” he said. “Even though I played for USA, I think I’ve got to learn as much of cricket from them as much as they can learn from me.”