Out There With 12 Sports: Global game of cricket has home in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - When Wissa Malikzai was one of the millions of people displaced from Afghanistan, eventually finding a new home in Wichita, he knew his first order of business once he was settled in.
“Everyone knows we came here in 2021, a lot of Afghans,” he said. “The first thing was to find a cricket ground. When I landed in Wichita, I was in a hotel on Kellogg, and the first thing I searched on Google was, ‘Where is the cricket ground in Wichita?’”
He, like many others from around the world, found a home at the Wichita Cricket Club, which has been around from more than 40 years. The current team, ACC, plays in a legaue of over 400 players on 13 teams from Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
ACC has more than 25 players of all ages.
“We have been playing here for about the last 13 years,” Sajith Kumar said. “The city has been really good to us. We have about 25-30 people playing cricket all the way from age 14-55. We have players from Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Afghanistan, the Caribbeans. We have a mixture of players from all over the world.”
Cricket is played between two teams of 11 players. In the middle of the ground is a 22-yard pitch with a wicket at each end comprised of two bails on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled and then running between the wickets, while the defensive side tries to prevent the ball from leaving the field and dismiss each batter by bowling the ball into the wickets. A ball hit which rolls outside the boundary scores four runs, while a ball the leaves the field in the air scores six runs. Test matches are comprised of two innings with 10 outs, and they can go up to five days.
It is a game played worldwide in more than 120 countries by more than 30 million registered players. It is most popular in India, the United Kingdom, Australia and other European and Asian countries.
“The sport means a lot to me. I started when I was a little kid around 5 or 6 years old,” said Sahus Sahura, who plans to continue playing when he attends the University of Kansas this fall. “Me and my dad played a lot of cricket, nonstop even to this day, he’ll say, ‘Let’s go cricket practice.’”
While it’s attracting people of all ages, the group is hopeful it can continue to grow.
“We are seeing kids starting to play here. I’m sure for local people to start playing, it will take some understanding,” Kumar said.
“This is not a hobby, but it’s our passion - to play,” Malikzai said.
More information on the club can be found at wichitacricketclub.com.
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