Colgate craves cricket

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When Visiting Assistant Professor Rajinikanth Mohan isn’t teaching biochemistry or researching plant immunity through genetic and molecular approaches, he’s focused on cricket: when to play, who to practice with, and how to invite more Colgate students into the sport.

Hoping to capitalize on the open summer availability of Colgate’s community, Professor Mohan put out an initial call to seek interest. Eagerness to learn, Mohan says, propelled many to join the group.

“I hear a lot of people being excited about cricket,” Mohan explains. “They know it’s similar to baseball, but they don’t know much more beyond that.”

Students and faculty members (including Mohan, above) play cricket in the Sanford Field House, July 26, 2018.
Mark DiOrio / Colgate University

The cricket team of faculty and students reflects Colgate’s diverse demographics and represents a wide range of identities and interests. Players from the United States, Bhutan, Ethiopia, Georgia, India, Mauritius, Nepal, and Pakistan make up the almost 20-person team.

“Because cricket is incredibly popular in so many diverse countries — precisely commonwealth nations that were all once colonized by the British — it has more potential to bring together international students than, possibly, any other game,” Mohan said.

Chris Burns ’05 originally started Colgate’s cricket club 13 years ago to share his newfound passion after participating in the India Study Group. Efforts made by cricket devotees like Mohan have pushed both inexperienced and seasoned players to rally once more.

The 2018 summer team practiced to acquire the basics of cricket before heading to their second game. The friendly match-up between two Colgate groups was played in Sanford Field House and featured an air of lighthearted competition.

The pitcher wound up explosive throws as players watched in fascination. Stretches of silence were punctuated by thunderous applause and energetic cheers of “good judgment!” or “safe by a mile!”

Ruchit Shrestha ’20, a mathematics and computer science double major from Nepal, was awarded Player of the Match by Mohan. Shrestha views cricket as a big sport in other parts of the world and wanted to continue playing at Colgate after a seven-year hiatus from the game.

“I think it’s a low impact sport so a lot of beginners can play,” Shrestha said. “We have a good community of people from different places.”

Pete Baker ’20, a biochemistry major from Minnesota, was named Player of the Series, which ultimately stretched to three matches. He echoed Mohan’s assumptions as he explained his interest in joining the summer cricket team.

“I wanted to play cricket this summer because it sounded like a really fun way to spend time with fellow students researchers in a non-academic setting,” Baker said. “I’ve really come to enjoy the game, and it’s been great way to get to know students I might not otherwise have had the chance to meet.”