May 18, 2017

Passion for cricket keeps resident active, connected

Faisal Wahid, covered in protective gear, takes a turn as “batsman” in a game of cricket at the 11th Avenue Park on April 23.  Photo by David Ricketts||| Faisal Wahid, covered in protective gear, takes a turn as “batsman” in a game of cricket at the 11th Avenue Park on April 23. Photo by David Ricketts||| |||

By Charlotte Fife-Jepperson

When Faisal Wahid first moved to Utah in 2015, he didn’t know anyone here from the Indian subcontinent and was looking for ways to become more connected to the community.

His wife, knowing that Wahid’s passion lies in the sport of cricket, started inquiring at the Indian grocery store and other places if there was a cricket league in Utah. They happily discovered that yes indeed Utah has a cricket league that has been around since the ‘80s.

Wahid, like virtually every boy in India, began playing cricket as soon as he learned to walk. To say that cricket is India’s national sport would be an understatement. It is more like a religion that unifies the entire country. It is a source of national pride and patriotism.

With his wife’s encouragement, Wahid joined the Salt Lake Sabrecats team – one of five teams in the Intermountain Cricket League, which was formed in 1986 by a group of international students at the University of Utah.

Over the past year, Wahid has enjoyed playing his favorite sport on Sundays and has expanded his network of friends through his involvement with the league. “It is my ‘me time’ – my one day of recreation,” he said. It also keeps him fit. He works out in a small home gym to stay in shape for the weekly, 4 to 5-hour cricket games.

Cricket originated over 500 years ago and is a predecessor to baseball. It is played on a large elliptical-shaped field with a “pitch” – a hard-surfaced, narrow strip about 22 yards long – in the center. Similar to baseball, it involves batsmen (batters) and bowlers (pitchers) and the object of the game is to score the most runs.

With over two billion followers, cricket is the second most watched sport in the world after soccer. It is very popular in the Indian subcontinent (especially in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) and is also big in England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Caribbean.

One of the Intermountain Cricket League’s founders, Nasir Khan, said that the Salt Lake Sabrecats are the most diverse team in the league. They have players from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. Although the teammates are from different countries of origin that don’t always coexist peacefully, they put hostilities aside and instead become a “band of brothers” said Khan, who now helps coach the Sabrecats.

“Both the city and the county have been very supportive of our league over the years,” he said. The Sabrecats have historically played on Sundays during warmer months at various parks, such as Sherwood and Cottonwood Parks on Salt Lake City’s west side. They now have a more permanent field at the 11th Avenue Park on Terrace Hills Dr.

Khan is always eager to recruit new players for the league and plans to hold a youth camp later in June for boys, ages 15 and up, who want to learn more about the sport of cricket. For more information, email him at .