Rutgers Cricket Club Fifth-Ranked Collegiate Team in the Nation
Success on the field and the chance to play first televised college cricket game in U.S. has put university's team on the map
Five years ago Poras Patel, a Rutgers student from India, gathered with friends at Johnson Park for a friendly cricket match. If only Rutgers had a club, he thought, organizing matches could be easier. So, he started one on the New Brunswick Campus in 2006.
Today the Rutgers Cricket Club is the fifth-ranked collegiate cricket team in the U.S. – and on the nation’s cricket radar.
“I feel proud whenever I hear any news about my club and how far they’ve come,” says Poras, who graduated from Rutgers in 2008 and is in his fourth year of medical school in New York.
The team gained national attention in 2010 after winning the American College Cricket Northeast Championship against NYU-Poly. This spring the club traveled to Florida to compete against 32 teams in the American College Cricket Spring Break Championship, generating a record-breaking 256 runs in a single tournament game. Hardik Jogani, a School of Engineering senior who is president of the Rutgers Cricket Club, attributes the team’s successes to the surprisingly deep pool of talent that exists among Rutgers students and to the connections the club made with TV Asia and American College Cricket.
Jogani contacted TV Asia, a Southeast Asia television channel based in Edision, N.J., that highlights South Asian talent and sparked the network’s initial interest in covering college cricket. In 2011 TV Asia offered Rutgers the opportunity to play in the first televised college cricket game in the United States. Rutgers played against NYU-Poly, which won the game, but despite the defeat, Jogani sees it as having been the club’s most paramount success to date.
“Suddenly other schools around the country knew we existed,” Jogani says. “It was great that we were a part of that kind of history. At Rutgers we say we were the birthplace of college football. If cricket becomes big in the future, we can add we’re the birthplace of televised college cricket, too.” Jogani says.
A little-known sport in this country, cricket is a bat and ball game played with 11 players in games that can last for several days. (The longest recorded game lasted nine days.).
Despite the team’s successes, Jogani says few fans show up to support the 25 team members at their tournaments. In contrast, a college cricket match in India might attract 800 fans or more.
Nevertheless, the sport is increasing in popularity among colleges in the U.S. and Canada. More than 65 schools are recognized by the American College Cricket organization, an increase from about 50 teams two years ago. American College Cricket, launched in March 2009 with five developing teams, has helped to promote and popularize the game.
Another achievement for the Rutgers club has been diversity. Before West Orange native Brian Goodacre’s arrival last year, the team had been composed of only Indian and Pakistani students.
“I joined because I wanted to learn a sport I had never played,” says Goodacre, a Rutgers senior. A former baseball player, Goodacre found it challenging to re-route his muscle memory because the mechanics of the games are so different.
“It’s been a commitment, but I’ve had fun,” Goodacre says. “Through cricket I’ve met new people and kept in shape.” Goodacre says. He and Jogani both plan to continue playing on other club teams after they graduate in May.