Students bring Cricket to America

Nandhini Sivabalakannan, Staff Writer

Cricket is wildly popular in India, but when freshman Mohan Kummarigunta lived there, he wasn’t really interested despite India winning the Cricket World Cup in 2011.
“In my country [India], I wouldn’t play cricket much,” Kummarigunta said.

Nonetheless his interest changed when he arrived in the U.S. and started focusing on school, mostly because he didn’t have much else to do.
“When I got here, I got bored and started watching YouTube videos on how to play cricket and got even more motivation from my friends to play so I started playing more often.” Kummarigunta said.
Previously, since Kummarigunta didn’t play cricket, he didn’t know the basics of playing the sport. That changed when he moved to America and with the help of his new friends began to see the sport in new light.

“I play with people who know more cricket than me so I can compare myself to them and learn from them,” Kummarigunta said.
Anyone who has moved to a different country know that making friends can be nervewracking and troublesome, but for Kummarigunta, he found his circle of friends by making connections on an official cricket team.
“I play for fun now, but I used to play with a team, the Red Bulls, who are a domestic team,” Kummarigunta said. “I’m not playing right now because it’s winter but I’ll play again soon.”
When a major Cardinals baseball game is going on, or the Super Bowl is around the corner, families often come together to watch it. This was no different for Kummarigunta and his family when it comes to cricket.
“If it’s an Indian match or a World Cup, my whole family likes to cheer,” Kummarigunta said. “My dad screams at the TV, since they played cricket often in their olden days, they like it a lot.”
In many sports, there are a few physical skills that one can pick up over time such as balance, speed, or agility, but while playing cricket, Kummarigunta has gained totally different talent.
“It frustrates me when they call it [cricket] an easy sport, ‘oh it’s a copy of baseball’ I’m like ‘no, they’re two completely different sports, that’s why they have different names,’” sophomore Surabhi Salunke said.
Salunke, much like, Kummarigunta, didn’t play cricket from a young age, but rather got the inspiration to play from someone else and has also joined a team.
“My dad likes to play cricket so he told me to play as an activity to get fit. In O’Fallon, there’s the American Cricket Academy and there I’m in a team named the Supreme Extreme Dream Team,” Salunke said.

With any sport there comes the hassle of practices which can be brutal. ‘Practice makes perfect’, is a saying in which Salunke seems to live by.
“I practice at the American Cricket Academy every Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m,” Salunke said. With games, there are pre-game rituals and for Salunke, it was a combination of a strict coach and hyped-up teammates.
“Our coach loves to lecture us before games and my teammates the love to cheer you out in the field like ‘you can do this, you can do this, don’t get out!’” Salunke said.
Overall in the words of Salunke, “cricket brings people together”.