Cricketers strut their stuff at Challenge Cup

Ever on the lookout for activities that help students celebrate life at the University, York is U has “hit one for six” with its second annual cricket tournament, held Oct. 2-3 at Tait McKenzie Field House.

PSF GreensLeft: Winning team from the Pakistani Student Federation

Established in 2003, the York is U Cricket Challenge gives student cricketers a chance to strut their stuff, socialize with students of different national backgrounds and promote the game. The tournament also gives students from cricketing nations a chance to get a little whisper of home, where the game is as popular as hockey is in Canada. In an article on its Web site after the first tournament, Cricket Canada Online said the event recognized “York’s unofficial sport” which had been played for years on any patch of ground available on campus.

“York is U is all about making students feel connected to the University,” said Jeremy Greenberg, coordinator of student alumni programs. “We asked students what they wanted and we consistently got the same response from students from Commonwealth countries: ‘Why do we have to play in parking lots, why doesn’t York recognize us and the game we love?'” Greenberg said the response to the tournament has been great with more than 140 players asking to play this year: “We didn’t have to advertise it much. Through word of mouth alone, so many people heard about it and we had 50-100 people for some of the games.”

The 2004 event featured eight teams of 11 representing several of York’s international student clubs, many representing nations where cricket sometimes defines national pride. The Pakistani Student Federation (PSF) Greens won the 2004 Challenge Cup, defeating the Pakistani Student Association (PSA) 11 in the finals. Other “national” team representatives included Desis (India), Bangladesh, Bharatiya (India), PSF Whites, Team Middle East (multicultural) and a side from York is U.

In keeping with tradition, tournament organizers named the top players at the game’s two key positions. Haroon Khan, captain of the PSA 11, was named Best Batsman and his brother and teammate Amin Khan took Best Bowler honours. Haroon, who was born in Canada but spent 10 years in Pakistan where he played organized cricket, is a second-year student in the Human Resources Management Program, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. Amin, a computer science student in the Faculty of Science & Engineering, missed a chance to play for his provincial under-19 team when the family returned to Canada six years ago.

Haroon greatly appreciates what York is U has done in organizing a cricket tournament and enjoyed the two-day event, despite his squad’s second-place finish. “It’s an amazing experience full of fun, energy and enthusiasm,” he said. York cricketers can often be seen playing an impromptu game on the Harry Arthurs Commons in front of Vari Hall, where curious onlookers gather to watch and ask questions about the sport. Their interest, he says, is proof of the need for a dedicated facility on campus where the University’s cricket community can practice and play. “We need a proper ground where we can celebrate our talent,” Khan said. “There is more than enough skill here.”

Saba Rafiq, a third-year student in the International Development Studies Program, Faculty of Arts, became the first woman in the tournament’s history to score a run, scoring three for the York is U team. Although considered by many a men’s game, cricket has been played by women for more than 250 years. The first recorded women’s match held in England took place in 1745, according to the International Women’s Cricket Federation.

History’s first reference to the game is thought to be from England in 1300. Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and his cabinet declared cricket the national sport of Canada in 1867, which was 78 years after the first reference to a game played in Montreal in 1785.

For more information on the student groups mentioned, visit the Office of Student Affairs clubs page.