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Square legs, fine legs and short legs: the beauty of cricket

Burnaby’s IndCan cricket club aims to bring the community together through their love and passion for cricket.

The crowd erupted in chants; cheering echoed through the walls. The tables were set, drinks and food served.

This was a celebration. A wedding? A birthday?

No, this was a celebration of love; of love for a sport.

As dozens of people gather around, an 80-inch projector screen rolls down. The lights go down and cheers are heard.

This is cricket — a sport watched and loved by millions.

Some experiences are better felt than told; for many immigrants hailing from the Commonwealth countries, cricket is one of them .

The thrill: that nail-biting last over, when the last ball is bowled and the sound of the ball connecting with the bat, the moment of silence followed by a long cheer, is incomparable.

Burnaby’s IndCan cricket club was started by Raj Salvi and his partner, Rashmitha Salvi, back in 2006, to bring the experience of a taste of "home" to the growing immigrant communities in British Columbia.

Many immigrants grew up watching and playing cricket — whether in a gully (street) or at a professional level. Due to the increasing immigrant population, an uptick can be observed in the growing demand for cricket in Canada.

The secretary of IndCan cricket club, Sunil Rajan, hopes they can provide a platform for cricket enthusiasts in Lower Mainland to play and enjoy cricket.

Cricket goes beyond awards and wins for the members of the club. It means community and family.

“For me, it’s kept me younger,” he said.

“In being able to play cricket and play with the guys, I've got so many relationships. It’s become my extended family.”

After all, cricket is called a gentleman’s game for a reason.

Sanjay Morar, the club’s president, feels that the sport is inclusive and brings people together. 

“The way I see sport is it needs to unite people from whatever background,” he said.

“It's one thing that we all have in common is the ability to play sport. And we have a love and a passion for sport.”

This not-for-profit club has taken huge strides in providing a pitch for the cricketing community in British Columbia. Focusing on community rather than winning, the club’s unique approach to cricket has given many cricket enthusiasts a platform to learn and shine.

Rashi Allot, one of the club members, was recently in Ontario, away representing British Columbia on the B.C. women’s team in the Canadian nationals.

A force to reckon with

Having grown up in a cricket family, Rashi Allot had always shown an inclination towards playing cricket. It was not until her husband, Bikram Aulakh, introduced her to IndCan cricket club that she thought of taking the sport to a professional level.

Allot spent the early days of her childhood playing cricket with her father and sister. She is a strong believer that sports plays a key role in teaching valuable life skills.

“It's not how many times you fail, it's just how, how many times you get back up and get back up stronger. So that's what I learn from, from this game,” she said. “It is motivation, that’s what I learnt.”

Playing in the nationals was a first-time experience for the cricketer. Allot takes pride in being able to represent the province in the nationals T20 championship.

“I would say there is a lot of difference in the way men's cricket works versus women's cricket, especially when it comes to like the strength and the skill set that is sort of a difference there, and not that one is less or the other is better,” she said.

“It's just that there are different skill sets that women have, and there are different skill sets that men work with. And at the end of the day, we have different strategies that we want to play, which works best with our skill set and our strengths.”

Encouraging the sport at a grassroots level

One of the greatest challenges to the presence of a strong cricket base in Canada is the limited facilities and turfs to practise cricket.

According to Morar, encouraging cricket should start at school levels. With the growing population in British Columbia, he hopes the communities can get a helping hand to build sufficient facilities to grow cricket’s presence in the province.

Vikram Behla, the treasurer of the club, envisions a brighter future for the growth of cricket in Canada with the amount of immigrants coming.

“You can already see that with the large number of immigrants coming in, more and more youngsters are getting involved, so the sport will grow,” he said.

“Now, again, as authorities and government, we could help the sport grow much better and get that growing from the grassroots level.”

The club members hope that IndCan’s community approach will encourage more members to join the club, including kids and women.