Sport is slowly but surely returning in most forms across Ireland, with football already back on University College Dublin’s (UCD’s) campus. Many teams and sports have already returned to some form of practice, while others eagerly await their first training session since the lockdown. One such club itching to get back to the fields is UCD’s Cricket Club, which is hoping to grow in numbers as students look to become more active in a post-lockdown world.
The club restarted in 2019 after a year of interrupted continuity in 2018 saw them rendered basically inactive for the majority of the year. A cancelled summer period in 2020 has not stopped UCD Cricket from looking to expand and grow interest in the game.
UCD plays both indoor and outdoor variants of the game, with the outdoor season taking place in the summer between May and July, while the indoor tournament usually takes place in January. The outdoor season is much more competitive than the indoor season, as the indoor game is more focused on the casual, social aspects of the sport.
Former club captain, Arnav Dania expressed the fun that can be had playing cricket for UCD. “The indoor sessions that we have are more informal… it is where, even if you don’t have the right skills, you can go on, give it a shot, play around and have fun,” said Dania.
However, the club is hoping to become more competitive in all forms of the game, according to current Vice Captain, Taranpreet Singh. “[Currently] it is fifty-fifty, but we are trying to get more competitive. This season of course it wasn’t possible because of Covid-19; there were going to be some intervarsity tournaments, but there weren’t any. At the moment it is more social,” said Singh.
Singh mentioned that the club does not have a dedicated field or cricket nets that they can use, instead having to practice and play on 11-a-side AstroTurf football fields which do not have the same feel and bounce to them that a standard cricket pitch has. Dania believes that this lack of a designated cricket field has also hindered the club’s ability to move away from social cricket and affects the number of students that play for the club. He mentioned that this could also be the reason that the club is made up largely of international students.
“Usually what happens is during the sports expo… we have a lot of interest from Irish students, we have quite a few Irish students who actually want to play cricket and have played cricket before,” said Dania. “But what happens is… they come for a few training sessions, but they are not happy with the facilities that have been allotted to the cricket club, so they don’t continue on with the club.”
“There are a lot of international students who play cricket,” added Dania. “You have a lot of interest from south Asian nationals, who would be Indians, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis; we have also had South African nationals playing; we’ve had people from Luxembourg who play cricket.”
Despite the challenges in terms of facilities, UCD Cricket has managed to garner a good number of active members, according to current captain Anudeep Kesiraju. “We do have like [between] thirty and thirty-five people playing right now,” he said. “We were able to have two teams permitted by UCD for the intervarsity outdoor tournaments.”
But Kesiraju hopes that these numbers will improve and that the club will be able to bring in more women as well in order to form a consistent women’s team. “We would like to have a women’s team representing UCD. Last year we did not have solid reach, so there would [only] be like one or two players showing up to practice, so that is what we are targeting this year,” said Kesiraju.
“[Because of the break in 2018] we are right now focusing on the facilities we have which will lead us to promote the sport a bit more to form a women’s team as well as a men’s team,” added Kesiraju. Dania has already noticed an improvement in player numbers since his time as captain, as he remembers in the 2016/2017 season the club only had around 17 active members.
The club is always looking for more active members and will be hoping that the incoming year will bring with it more students looking to give cricket a try. Singh is confident that the club is prepared to get back on the field with all relevant safety measures in place regarding Covid-19.
“There are certain rules laid out by the HSE and the national cricketing bodies for us that say that we have to have proper sanitisation available, and that the balls have to be sanitised every time with alcohol-based sanitisers,” said Singh. “With these restrictions I think it is good enough for us to proceed ahead whenever UCD sport is ready to start the game.”
Students wanting to get in contact with UCD Cricket and sign up to play for the cricket teams can contact them on any of their social media platforms or through their email address: [email protected].
Stephen Kisbey-Green – Co-Editor