It’s an exciting time for cricket fans all over the world as the fourth ICC Twenty20 World Cup, a highly competitive international cricket tournament, is being played in Sri Lanka. As it enters the semi-finals this week, only Pakistan, West Indies, Australia and the host country remain in competition.
But around the same time the World Twenty20 got underway with 12 teams last month, a group of men from a variety of professional backgrounds and a love for the game of cricket took the grounds of Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Edison, N.J.
Appeals of “howazat” echoed, a term shouted in enthusiasm in cricket, a way for the fielding team to make an appeal to the umpire to ask whether the batsman is out or not. The Edison Cricket Club was playing a Millennium Cricket League match against the Leisure Team. The league is one of six in N.J. alone. The state has a total of 162 cricket teams.
“You can take an Indian out of his country,” said Amit Patel, 31, an IT manager and Edison team player. “But you can’t take cricket out of his heart.”
This photo essay showcases the Sept. 22 game between both teams and aims to capture the expressions and intensity of players on the field. Most players are first or second-generation immigrants from India.
Players from Edison and Leisure teams get ready to play the first ball. Cricket is played between two teams of 11 players each. It’s played with a bat and a ball much like its derivative sport baseball on an oval grass field with a flat strip of ground in the center called pitch. One team fields and bowls while the other team sends two batsmen to the pitch to hit and score runs. The scoring can be by either taking a single run or hitting the ball out of the field for four or six runs. (Photo by Divya J. Verma)
Dharmesh Tyagi, 28, watches from outside the boundary. He is a director of sales engineering at Vidyo during the week and a professional cricket player on weekends. Tyagi’s face is covered with a high zinc sunblock commonly used by cricketers to protect their skin during long hours in the sun. (Photo by Divya J. Verma)
Cricket is played with a leather ball and a bat made of willow. New bats usually need final hardening to protect them from cracks. The process is called “knocking-in” and is done by hitting the bat in the middle with a hardwood bat mallet just enough to create a dent. (Photo by Divya J. Verma)
Edison player Amit Patel juggles the leather ball just before going in for fielding. “I grew up in India playing cricket in the galli [narrow streets] with a rubber ball,” he said. Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world after soccer, just not in the U.S. Cricket fans expand from England to India and South Africa, as well as other nations that were once part of the British Empire. (Photo by Divya J. Verma)
Tyagi bowls to the Leisure team player. “I played for the Israel’s national cricket team before moving to the U.S.,” said Tyagi. “My best match was when I scored 167 runs and took 5 wickets in the same match for Israel.” (Photo Divya J. Verma)
A Leisure cricket team player hits the ball while an Edison team player (the wicket keeper) maintains his position close to the wicket. In the U.S., cricket remains the most popular sport among immigrants from Commonwealth countries. The game of cricket originated in 1478 in England. The U.S. played its first international match ever with British Empire’s Canadian Province in 1844 and lost. (Photo Divya J. Verma)
Fahad Shahnawaz, 30, makes a run for a single as the umpire watches. An immigrant from Hyderabad, India, Shahnawaz is a nursing student at LaGuardia Community College. “Cricket is a religion in India,” he said. “People live cricket, talk cricket and sleep cricket there.” Shahnawaz aspires to provide cricket coaching to the youth in the U.S. one day. (Photo by Divya J. Verma)
The fielders of Edison team call out “howazat,” an appeal to the umpire for an “out” or “not out” decision. The game they are playing is the third round of a Twenty20 (a type of cricket) tournament organized yearly by the league. A Twenty20 match involves single innings for each team batting for no more than 20 overs (set of six balls bowled). At each end of the pitch, are sets of three wooden stumps called the wickets. (Photo by Divya J. Verma)
The umpire raises an index finger above his head signaling an “out” decision after an appeal. A Leisure team batsman walks out of the field to be replaced by the next player. The Edison team batted first and made 172 runs in 20 overs leaving a target of 173 runs needed for the Leisure team to win. (Photo by Divya J. Verma)
The bails in balance on the wicket. Similar to bails, the game of cricket requires players to be balanced in their faculties. Leisure won the match by 8 wickets and chased down the 173 runs target set by Edison in 16.2 overs. (Photo by Divya J. Verma)