Cricket gaining ground in North Texas

07/16/2014 7:48 PM

07/16/2014 7:49 PM

For many Texans, the only sport that matters is football. Between high school, college and professional, and the off-season workouts, it can last nearly the entire year.

But in spots across the Metroplex, it isn’t football that is drawing attention. It’s cricket.

Teams from Fort Worth, Southlake and Watagua are among those competing in the North Texas Cricket Association. The Dallas Cricket League began in 2000, when a few men would meet and play with a tennis ball. Now, the league has 60 teams and is still growing.

The league hosted a national tournament during the July Fourth weekend at the seven cricket grounds at Russell Creek Park in Plano.

“We are blessed to have a city like Plano and the facilities here,” Jag Poosarla, executive secretary of Dallas Cricket League, said. “Everybody who has come from California, New Jersey, anywhere, nobody has seven cricket grounds in the same park with so much shade.”

Most of the sport’s growth is in the youth league.

“The way I’m seeing it, I think there will be some future, future kids,” said Dharmesh Rana, a member of Blue Star CC, a DCL team. “I’m pretty sure that Dallas is going to have some future and bright kids playing cricket. It can be better and something to look forward to as we grow.”

Shrey Patel, who coaches an under-12 team from New Jersey, said the tournament in Plano gave his players their first taste of competition.

But it wasn’t all about cricket for the kids.

“Do you know what the highest amount of requests I got from my kids? ‘Can we go to Cowboys Stadium?’ ” Patel said.

In a familiar sight at youth league games, parents were coaching from the sidelines and coaches argued calls. Kids are competitive, but Patel doesn’t want them to be too competitive.

“One of the other things this tournament helps do is it helps teach kids how to play the game in a spirit so that is also helping because when they play competitive cricket with other teams and all that,” Patel said.

The next step for the Dallas league is getting cricket into schools, either as an organized sport or in PE.

“These kids, they really need a platform,” DCL president Kuljit-Singh Nijjar said. “They need more games. This has to be promoted in schools, and the way this game is going to be properly recognized [is] once we start [in] local schools.”

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