While Fort Lauderdale, Fla., might seem like a usual place to spend spring break on the beach, one group of Texas Tech students was there for a different reason.
The Texas Tech Raider Cricket Club returned Tuesday from a week playing in the American College Cricket’s National Cricket Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The team finished third in its league of eight teams, club president Baiju Shah said. Shah, a master’s student in management information systems from India, said the team won three of its four games “very convincingly.”
However, the University of Pennsylvania managed to keep the team from the semifinals in a close last game.
“It was not bad for the first time,” said team captain Rahul Chadha, a master’s student in management information systems from India. “No reason next year shouldn’t be better.”
This was the team’s first year at nationals, Chadha said. The group was one of 32 teams picked to play out of more than 40 colleges across the United States and Canada. Chadha said it was a great opportunity for the team and having the chance to play at nationals was something special.
The stadium itself was one of the most exciting parts of the trip for the players. As an international ground, the playing field itself was a unique experience, something Shah said few cricket players ever get to visit. The stadium in Florida is the only international ground in all of North America.
“As a kid growing up in India and loving cricket, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Mithun Pasham, a medical research technician at the Health Sciences Center from India.
He said many of these kinds of stadiums exist in India, but there is no way any college team would ever get a chance to play on one because of the intensity of competition and the popularity of professional cricket in the country.
In addition to playing in a world-class stadium, Shah said the players were treated like world-class athletes.
“You get the same feelings and the same facilities the international professional players get,” Shah said. “We even have uniforms that made us look like professionals playing a professional game.”
Playing in the national championship was worth the trip, Pasham said.
The team had to drive about 28 hours each way. Pasham said the team members took turns driving, and it was not so bad to get to the end result.
“That shows the passion of the team,” he said.
Overall, Chadha said it was great exposure for the team and for cricket in general.
“We’re really happy to see it growing in this part of the world,” Shah said.
Having started playing at age 8, Chadha said seeing Tech had a cricket club was the deciding factor in his choice to attend.
The team already is planning for next year; Shah said now the team is established and would love to continue going to nationals.
“It is going to be an annual thing,” he said. “It’s a great tournament.”