Seattle Cricket Club

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Renton Reporter article

Batter up! Cricket club finds new home in Renton

Kris Hill / Renton Reporter

Shimoga Srinath shows how in the game of cricket batters defend the wicket, behind him, by hitting a ball that is pitched to them.

By KRIS HILL, Reporter August 18, 2003

Batters and bowlers play matches at Ron Regis Park

During intermittent rain on a recent Sunday morning, members of the Seattle Cricket Club tested out the pitch, which had standing water on it, while others stood under umbrellas near an SUV, waiting for the umpire to arrive to officially declare the match washed out.

In the meantime, Shimoga Srinath demonstrated the basics of cricket with the help of Seattle A teammate Tito Sarai.

Srinath, who is an engineer with The Boeing Co. at its Renton plant, has played with the Seattle Cricket Club since 1968.

In his left hand he held the cricket bat, which is shorter than a baseball bat and has a flat surface, so that the end of it was pointing downward. Behind him was the wicket. In the middle of the 60-foot pitch, which is in the middle of the rectangular cricket ground, stood Sarai, who bowled the ball.

Bowling is similar to pitching. Except the batsman hits the ball off the ground.

Cricket is believed by many to be the foundation for baseball. But it's far more complicated and it lasts longer than the typical baseball game.

Differences abound between the two sports.

"People who play baseball can pick (cricket) up fairly quickly - people who are sports-minded. But it still takes a long time to learn," Srinath said.

He first learned to play the sport as boy in India.

"We kind of grew up with it. As a kid you start playing in the alleys and at school," he said. "Just like kids here grow up with baseball."

The key differences between the two sports, Srinath said, is that there are 10 outs in an entire cricket match, as opposed to three per inning during nine innings of baseball. Once you're out in cricket, you're done for the game. But an at-bat in cricket can last much longer than in baseball.

There are two bases in cricket, instead of four in baseball. A bowler only throws six pitches at a time, so each team, or side, must have as many as eight bowlers to get through a game. Every six pitches is called an over.

"There are quite a few guys who have played baseball who can do it," Srinath said of learning the rules of cricket. "But cricket is more subtle."

There is more variety in the types of pitches and there are several batting strokes that can be used to defend the wicket, which is three wooden posts with two small wooden pegs resting atop it. A batsman defends the wicket, so he doesn't necessarily run every time he hits the ball.

It's a slow game by American standards, typically lasting five hours or more for amateur contests. In some ways, though, it has more action, as the scores are usually in triple digits.

Cricket has never really caught on in the United States, where baseball, football and basketball dominate the sports scene. But it has legions of fans around the world, from Britain to India to New Zealand.

"It's a sport that's one of the most widely played in so many parts of the world," Srinath said.

Cricket was brought to the Pacific Northwest in the 1940s by Indian students and professors at the University of Washington, said Jack Surendranath, chairman of the Seattle Cricket Club. But those games were informal and impromptu.

In 1965 the Seattle Cricket Club joined the British Columbia Mainland Cricket League.

"We won the Division 1 title that year and we haven't won anything since," Surendranath said. "We are the nucleus and all the other clubs grew around us."

The club has two teams that play in he league, one in the premier division, Seattle A, and one in the first division, Seattle B.

"This year we are playing most of our games in Vancouver, B.C., because immigration laws have become so strict, it's hard for Canadian teams to cross the border," Surendranath said.

When they do play home games, it's at the city of Renton's Ron Regis Park off the Maple Valley Highway.

Up until this year the club had played and practiced at Fort Dent Park in Tukwila, which was formerly a part of the King County Parks Division. When the city of Tukwila's Parks and Recreation Department took it over with the help of a private organization, Starfire Sports, they cricket ground was converted into a soccer field.

With the help of Renton's Parks and Recreation Department staff, the club was able to make use of the open space at Regis Park next to a baseball field for a new cricket ground. The cricket pitch - where the batting, bowling and base running happens - was moved from its former home at Fort Dent and relocated.

"We had a nice ground at Fort Dent," Surendranath said. "People would come to the park for a picnic and there would be a cricket match going on, so it was a cultural event, too. We lost that one due to circumstances beyond our control, so we needed to find something quick."

It's worked out well, he added, because of the club's 55 members, he estimated about 25 percent come from South King County.

Surendranath used to play, but now he spends most of his time overseeing the organization and serving as an umpire, as he said he is too old now to keep up with the youngsters.

"In a lot of ways cricket is like baseball, but with lots of traditions and customs," Surendranath said. "It teaches you to lose. It's a game where you learn discipline, competition and appreciation for others play. The game is bigger than any one person."

Kris Hill can be reached at or (253) 872-6607.


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