School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Cricket Comeback: Queen's club brings the sport back to Kingston

Cricket Comeback

Georgia Carley

The Queen's Kingston Cricket Club team standing on the location where the cricket field now exists

Queen's Kingston Cricket Club team picture

Cricket is coming to Kingston, and the members of the Queen’s Kingston Cricket Club couldn’t be happier.

I sat down with two QKCC members, Bharat Negi (Master’s student in Management Information Systems) and Suchit Ahuja (Doctoral candidate in in Management Information Systems), to talk about the club.

They were most excited to tell me about the new municipal cricket field that will open mid-July 2015 at the Memorial Centre. They are passionate about cricket and want to bring that passion to the Kingston community. As Suchit jokes, Canada is “lagging behind” when it comes to cricket.

For several years, Kingston has been without a cricket ground. The QKCC has been commuting to Ottawa to play games, and uses the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Centre during the winter months.

Kingston’s new cricket ground is the result of at least two years of work behind the scenes. Bharat and Suchit credit the club’s past president, as well as councilor Jim Neil, for their hard work promoting the initiative.

There used to be cricket grounds in Kingston, they tell me. Five or six years ago there were grounds at the Memorial Centre and on Bagot Street. These were converted as interest in the sport waned in Kingston. But interest is coming back, and so are the grounds.

The club will be hosting an awareness camp to introduce Kingstonians to cricket once the ground is opened. Bharat and Suchit also encourage students and community members to come cheer them on at their weekend matches.

There is a real benefit to Kingston, say Bharat and Suchit. The QKCC has been travelling to Ottawa on weekends for a summer-long tournament. Once the grounds at the Memorial Centre are ready, their opposing teams will come to Kingston. Bharat and Suchit calculate that at least 30 people – the players, their families and friends – will be travelling into Kingston for the game and adding to the city’s tourism economy.

Over the winter, the QKCC is an active student club, with over 25 members. While most of the players are men, the club is open to all. The club is made up primarily of international students who already have a passion for the game, but they welcome anyone who would like to play.

During the winter, the team must play indoors. Confined to a small space and the time constraints of using space in the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Centre, the club plays a modified version of the game. They use a softer ball, like a tennis ball, rather than the harder ball that is used in the summer outdoor games. They also have to make up rules about not hitting too hard, Bharat tells me.

Suchit likens this to the “gully cricket” played in India. He says, “indoor cricket resonates with that,” where at the grassroots level, people want to play cricket and make do with the space they have, alongside the competitive and institutional cricket leagues. This is like the difference between organized hockey and street hockey.

When asked what they enjoy about the game, Bharat and Suchit take it for granted that the athletics and team environment speak for themselves. Bharat highlights that his passion for the game stems from childhood. Before coming to Queen’s, he played competitively at home in India, where cricket is a national passion. When he knew he was coming to Queen’s, he searched to find a club to continue playing. He found out about the QKCC online.

For his part, Suchit becomes introspective at the question. He suggests that a large part of cricket’s popularity has to do with history. He tells me, “With cricket the big thing was after the British left the colonies, what was the equalizer? How do we stand up to them? The first one to win the cricket world cup in 1975 was the West Indies…this is a form of liberation for them.”

They joke that, since cricket is known as the “gentleman’s game,” it is perfect for polite Canadians. They look forward to the renaissance of cricket in Kingston.