Cricket at Marina Vista Park has been going on for three years now with a permanent wicket.
The Long Beach team is called the Dolphins and the season runs April – October. There are 6 teams in their division and 11 players per team. The games typically go the entire day from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (including lunch which both sides eat together).
The players describe themselves as transplants and told me that just on their team they had representatives from India, Pakistan, Australia, The Caribbean, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Scotland and England. They said they encourage new players to come out and are always looking for new players. The league is guided by the Southern California Cricket Association http://www.sccacricket.org/
I talked to Greg Chase of the Dolphins who explained the basics of cricket but added that it is a very complicated game. The game is played with a wicket and an oblong bat. The ball is pitched and there are two batters at a time with one of them hitting.
The ball actually comes off the ground before it is hit. The rules of cricket are numerous with 11 different ways to get out; one of which is when the bowler hits the wooden wicket which is an automatic out for the opposing team. Much of the structure, however is like baseball with bowlers; like pitchers, batting and fielding and a wicket keeper (like a catcher). A good, brief explanation can be found on you tube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8XpSO1kaHo
David Sentance is a cricket historian, coach and advocate.
David was originally from Kenya and then went to school in Edinburgh where he trained under top African Historians and has written a book on the history of cricket. He explained that when Kenya was becoming independent, cricket helped people get through it and united them. Cricket flourished during this time.
P: I heard from some of the Long Beach players that you train inner city youth. Can you tell me about that?
DS: I thought the structure of cricket would be great for all of the chaos of gangs that the children in the inner city were facing. Even the idea of dressing in whites and having to follow rules seemed like a good idea. I coach with Mustafa Khan who was homeless when I met him in 1995 and when he first started playing. He (Mustafa Khan) is 6 foot 7 (and at one point tried out for the Lakers) and has two 7 foot sons; one is boxer.
We (David and Mustafa) started the Los Angles Crickets http://www.glaca.org/ the first homeless cricket team out of Compton. We both now coach in Watts near the towers and have created school grants for inner city kids to play; some of who have gone out of the country to play in tournaments.
P: Do you think you get a good workout from cricket? How is it from a fitness perspective?
D.S: Better than people realize. Both fielding and bowling (similar to pitching) take a lot of endurance as well as good hand eye-coordination. The (position of) bowler is for the top athletes. You really have to pace yourself if you’re fielding.
If you are early in the lineup and don’t get out, you can literally be batting all day so those first positions are saved for the very athletic and fit.
All three of my sons are athletic and grew up playing cricket. My middle son played basketball and cricket and is now playing NCAA D1 for UC Davis and will be playing first string. He (David’s son) said cricket is the hardest sport of all of them.
David believes that cricket gave his son the precision of tracking needed to play tight end.
P: How long does it take for someone to learn the game well enough to play?
D.S: I can teach someone the basics in 6 weeks, 5 if they played baseball. The biggest thing to get used to is the hard ball (and no gloves except the wicket keeper) but we teach people to get rid of the fear.
In fact, if you want to learn to play, David said you can contact him on Facebook under Peter Sentence (full name is Peter David Sentence) and he will get you together with a trainer.
If that’s not good sportsmanship, I don’t know what is!