Thursday, April 18, 2024

Going to Bat –

In 1995, Zulfi Khan acquired a name from two strangers. It was the start of a journey that may ultimately make him president of the Central Virginia Cricket Affiliation.

“There have been two guys — they’re nonetheless my associates — who had been on the lookout for individuals to play cricket,” Khan recounts. “They opened the telephone guide and stated, ‘There’s a man named Khan, Khan should be a cricket participant.’”

Because it seems, Khan, a Pakistani native, had grown up enjoying cricket with family and friends. “We performed in alleyways and in all places,” Khan says. “I performed with my uncles, with senior faculty guys.”

Now, 28 years later, the times of looking by means of the telephone guide for cricket recruits are lengthy gone. For almost a decade, the CVCA has held tournaments that includes dozens of groups twice a yr on the Richmond Kickers’ Capital Park close to L. Douglas Wilder Center College in jap Henrico County. And this fall, a brand new cricket pitch is slated to open in Beulah Neighborhood Park in Chesterfield County.

“This house has been utilized by of us to play cricket for the previous 10 years,” says Stuart Connock, assistant director of Chesterfield County Planning and Development Companies. “Now, it’s going to be a regulation cricket pitch.”

A regulation cricket enjoying area is a circle 500 ft in diameter with a clay “pitch” — like a baseball infield — within the circle. The pitch is the place bowling — the cricket equal of pitching — takes place.

At Beulah Neighborhood Park, the pitch — 22 yards lengthy and 10 ft extensive — shall be positioned between two soccer fields in order that the sector can be utilized for different sports activities, too. The sector itself is so massive as a result of, not like in baseball, batters can hit the ball each forwards and backwards.

The sector shall be graded and irrigated and can have lights for nighttime play. The ability may even embody batting cages and a scoreboard. The $2.4 million venture is being constructed by Dickerson Development LLC, a Chesterfield-based contractor.   

Beulah Neighborhood Park, on the previous grounds of the outdated Beulah Elementary College, may even embody a playground, a splash pad, strolling trails and a 40,000-square-foot recreation middle.

“It’s an ideal location as a result of, as an old style, it was embedded within the neighborhood — there are lot of strolling alternatives, and it’s straightforward to get to,” Connock says. “With all of the completely different facilities, this shall be a neighborhood congregating level. It offers cricket the chance for a broader viewers.”

The USA is without doubt one of the solely former British colonies the place cricket doesn’t have a serious nationwide following. “Worldwide, it’s the second hottest sport behind soccer,” says Chesterfield Director of Parks and Recreation Neil Luther.

Khan says his mom is without doubt one of the world’s estimated 2.5 billion cricket followers. “When my mom is visiting, she tries to observe each time Pakistan is enjoying. Many individuals say a very powerful issues in life are God, nation and household. For a cricket participant, it is likely to be God, nation, household and cricket, and possibly not in that order.”

Khan — who Luther has known as “the grandfather of organized cricket on this space” — has been key to the method in Chesterfield, offering a information base of the sport.

“The [Beulah Neighborhood Park] area shall be among the finest grounds for cricket in Virginia for positive, and possibly on the East Coast,” Khan says.

In 2017, a clay pitch was constructed between two of the 5 soccer fields at Wilder Center College, and people two fields had been transformed into cricket grounds. Khan says that having two dimensionally correct cricket grounds — together with one with lights and a scoreboard — will make Henrico a pretty location for tournaments.

“As soon as the Beulah Park pitch is straightened out, on any given weekend, we are able to entice a match from wherever within the East Coast,” Khan says.

Khan’s imaginative and prescient doesn’t cease there. “I inform all of the county staff: ‘At some point, the USA of America will win the Cricket World Cup,’” he stated. “Proper now, we don’t qualify, however someday, we’ll win.”

“Cricket is older than baseball,” he says. “William Byrd performed cricket. Thomas Jefferson’s grandfather performed cricket. I’ve stated it at this time and I’ll carry on saying it: The USA will win the World Cup someday very quickly, and we could possibly be proud to be only a small a part of it.”

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