New cricket field solves woes

Senior accounting major Jagpreet Singh practices his swing on the new cricket field in preparation for the upcoming games. He is the team president and said he anticipates what the season has to offer. Photo by Roman Soriano | Mercury Staff.

A new field built for the UTD cricket team opened at the beginning of the semester after the team’s old field closed.

The cricket team spent the past year without a proper facility and was unable to practice many of the core skills necessary for cricket. The new field is located south of Lot U.

The team lost its field due to construction of the Canyon Creek Heights apartments. They were only able to practice on a soccer field, which is not suitable to practice batting. The team could only practice fielding and run drills.

Graduate student and team captain Pratik Dengle said that this new arena is more professional than their previous one, and the grass is also better.

“Having played competitive level of cricket, national level back in India, this can easily pass off as a first-class field,” Dengle said.

Accounting senior Jagpreet Singh said having a poor field poses a threat to the player’s safety, as bumpy, uneven ground can injure players.

“Cricket requires a lot of agility, so by fielding you have to dive around. Here we know that we won’t be injured unless you do some technically wrong stuff,” he said.

The new range also helped bolster the turnout for the team’s first practice. On their first day, they had more people attend practice than last year.

“We have around 20-25 people here, last practices … there were only about four to five people showing up,” Singh said. “That’s all because of the ground. They know they’re going to actually get to hit the ball.”

In previous years, the cricket team composed of mostly graduate students, but this year, about half the team is made up of undergraduate students.

“We’ve just been lucky this season that we got more young people coming in,” Dengle said. “I suppose it’s just word of mouth that we’ve got the young talent that we have this season.”

Of these incoming members, one student, finance freshman Karthik Gattepalli, stands out. This summer, he played on the USA Cricket team for the International Cricket Council Under 19 World Cup Qualifier.

Gattepalli said the experience of that tournament will help him guide the rest of the club.

“Playing for the national team is a big push in the team, it’s probably going to motivate the team,” Gattepalli says. “I think my job more than anything is to help these guys, really show them what the right path is.”

Despite the large growth in the organization, they want to continue expanding and want more students to join.

“We’re looking for somebody not from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the people we know play cricket,” Singh said. “We’re looking for some people who have no idea about cricket, but want to learn. We will be more than happy to actually teach them.”

The cricket team performed well in tournaments since its creation, even going as far as the semifinals at nationals last semester, despite not having a proper facility.

Dengle said he wants the team to continue gaining recognition to help the sport grow.

“We’ve been doing well at the national level. I think all the players should get the sense of appreciation and be known,” Dengle said. “We want to expand our wings (and) teach people from other continents and other cultures the game, and have fun while playing.”

The team aims to utilize their new field to better prepare for regional and national tournaments.

“In the three years I’ve been here at UTD, this is the first time that we’ve got such a big turnout on the first day of practice, so I don’t think there’s anything more to ask for,” Dengle said. “We’ve got a new field, bunch of new players, I think we’re going to give our best and try to win.”

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