In a little known park in east Maple Ridge a group of gentlemen gather twice a week to enjoy an ancient game – first played in 16th century England.
It involves a bat and a ball, but unlike baseball, is played on a pitch in the middle of a field.
The Ridge Meadows Cricket Association was established by a small group of local doctors in 2014, starting with a membership of about eight people. Now the membership has grown to more than 60 men, who call Selvey Park home, just off of 272 Street in Whonnock.
They come in from all over the Lower Mainland including: Abbotsford, Mission, Surrey, Burnaby, and even Vancouver.
“Cricket is a way of life,” explained Maple Ridge general practitioner Dr. Ravi Vanukuru. Just like hockey is to Canadians, Cricket is considered part of the cultural identity in India, where Dr. Vanukuru is from, and is also popular in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and a majority of the West Indies. Although not as popular here, Canada does have a national team, along with The Netherlands.
Dr. Vanukuru’s first memory of playing cricket was when he was six-years-old in India. He used to play with his four uncles, his mother’s brothers, who were in their early 20’s at the time. Growing up Vanukuru played at school and with his friends by his house. Once he entered medical school, though, he played less. In 1997, at the age of 32 he moved to England for his post grad studies and then he moved to Canada – to Maple Ridge – in 2009.
Vanukuru helped establish the local cricket association after meeting local psychiatrist Dr. Biju Mathew, who also works at Ridge Meadows Hospital, and other local doctors including: Dr. Muti Corana, a pediatrician; Dr. Deepu George, a gastroenterologist; general practitioner Dr. Lakshmikanth Challa; and anesthesiologist Dr. Sivakumar Raghavan.
They were all knowledgeable about the sport and wanted to pick it up again.
However, they wanted to be able to play the game properly. The group approached city hall to see if there was a space they could use where they could meet regularly.
City council, though, was not familiar enough with the game – so the doctors showed them YouTube videos to demonstrate how the sport was played. The group of doctors also told city council that they needed a cricket pitch – a concrete bed about 20 metres long and three metres wide – and a couple of acres of space to play within.
They were offered Selvey Park, to share with the city’s archery club.
The city funded the cricket pitch and the doctors used their own money to cover everything else including: an all-weather cricket mat, wickets, bats, balls and protective gear.
The association meets Wednesday evenings from 5:30 p.m. onward, Saturday evenings from 5 p.m. onward, some Friday evenings and all day on Sundays.
Dr. Vanukuru said they are hoping to be able to play during the winter months as well. They wouldn’t need as much space, as they would be able to enclose one end of the playing field with a net to catch the ball. However, he said, they would need an indoor venue.
What Dr. Vanukuru enjoys about the sport is the physical aspect of it – the balling, the batting, and the timing of hitting the ball.
But it is the company of friends and the banter that goes around that brings him the most joy.
On Monday, Sept. 6, at 10 a.m. the association will be hosting an in-house game at Selvey Park and is inviting anyone interested in learning about the game to come watch. The Ridge Meadows Division of Family Practice has also been invited.
The association will be holding a season end gala on Sept. 25 – which, depending on the current provincial health mandate – will either be held indoors or outdoors.
For more information about the Sept. 6 match or to become a member of the Ridge Meadows Cricket Association email email@example.com.
Go to ridgemeadowscricket.com for more information.
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