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U kinesiology dept. offers cricket course

For the first time, the University’s School of Kinesiology is offering a beginners’ course in cricket.

Cricket is not just a sport, it is a cultural invitation.

Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world. And this year, for the first time, the University is offering it as a beginner’s course through the School of Kinesiology.

Graduate student Nadir Budhwani learned the game in Pakistan, where he could play the sport all the time. Budhwani, who now teaches the sport to University students, said he wanted to get more Americans engaged in the sport.

“When you are from a cricket-playing nation, it runs in your blood,” he said.

While the sport is hardly as popular as basketball, football or soccer in the United States, there was a time when cricket was popular. Budhwani said the United States and Canada faced off in the first international game in 1844.

Times have indeed changed.

This fall, Budhwani started teaching beginning cricket to 26 students who knew next to nothing about the sport.

“I was thinking it was croquet at first,” class member Mike Lin said.

Lin, a kinesiology sophomore, said he decided to stick with the class anyway, though the only thing he knew about the sport was it involves hitting a ball with a bat.

Pitching a new idea

Budhwani introduced the idea of a cricket class to the kinesiology School last year, and some professors agreed it was time for the University to offer a new global sport.

“There are a number of sports out there that we don’t know about that could be taught here,” said Rick Fie, a history and philosophy of sports instructor.

Fie realized Budhwani’s passion for cricket during a summer tennis class he was teaching, and the instructor encouraged him to pitch a cricket course to administrators, he said.

Budhwani said the sport is a good way to promote diversity. When international teams compete against one another, there is only one language – the global language of cricket. Players have different languages, values and cultures, but they all come and play together with respect, he said.

It is important to use proper etiquette during a competition, he said. When a batswoman or batsman walks onto the field to bat for the first time, the opposing team claps. If a player disagrees with an umpire’s call, there is a quiet appeal.

In many popular U.S. sports, spectators and participants would not see that kind of etiquette, Budhwani said.

Learning from scratch

Budhwani introduces the game to newcomers by starting at the beginning and being patient, he said.

“When you don’t know anything about a certain sport, you start with the basics,” he said.

During the semester so far, Budhwani has tried to transform the group from cricket newcomers to cricket lovers.

He said he did not expect them to be super stars, but he is confident he could now take 12 students from the course and form a competitive team.

It seems nearly everyone is getting the hang of it. On Wednesday, Lin scored 19 out of his team’s 30 points. It was only his second time batting this semester.

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