Hitting wickets in FLA

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By Brandon Buechler

Ryerson University now has an official cricket club — and they’re already making a name for themselves.

The Rams got the news that they had achieved club status just before placing third at the American College Cricket National Championship in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., competing against 32 teams from the United States and Canada. Ryerson has been sending a group of students to this tournament every year since 2011, but this is the first time the team has competed as a Ryerson sanctioned club.

During the tournament, which took place March 11-15, the team made it to the semifinals, its best finish ever, before suffering a devastating one-run loss to the University of Texas at Dallas.

“In basketball terms, it was 74-73. It was a ‘nail-biter situation,’” says club president Obaid Ullah. “I remember Nikhil Dutta saying ‘I’ve never played such intense innings in my life.’”

That means something coming from Dutta, an accomplished cricketer who’s played for several Canadian national teams and is currently on Ryerson’s active roster.

“All of our guys have some [outside] experience playing,” says vice-captain Anees Saeed. “They’re good. They want to be the best.”

Ullah says the trip allowed the team to figure out their team chemistry while also giving them an opportunity to hit their stride on the pitch.

“The team going there and the team coming back were two different teams,” he says. “We bonded so well by the time we made it back.”

However, the success in Fort Lauderdale was just a drop in the bucket for the club. They have much bigger plans, Ullah says.

“Long-term our goal is to become a varsity team,” he says. “We want to work with Ryerson Athletics to become an OUA (Ontario University Athletics) sanctioned sport. We’re a competitive club. Although we like to have fun and we do have fun playing, we want to be on top.”

Ullah says the club is collaborating with other clubs at universities such as Waterloo, York, and Toronto to develop a structured season to present to the OUA administration in the near future.

“We want to show them that we can consistently have quality matches and that people play the sport,” he says.

According to the OUA’s constitution and by-laws, a sport must consist of eight teams to apply for a new sanction by the organization. After that, they must maintain a minimum of four participatory members, or teams.

“Going forward it looks like we’ll have three major tournaments: the American College championships in Florida, the Northeast regionals in New York, and the Canadian nationals along with a more structured season-style approach,” Ullah says.

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