Cricket is a global sport that’s extremely popular in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Here in Canada, multiple organizations are eagerly stepping up to bat to grow the game.
According to Cricket Canada, the sport’s national association, cricket is played in every province, with the highest participation rates (and largest number of cricket clubs) in Ontario and British Columbia.
Cricket and baseball—similar, but different
Like baseball, cricket is a striking and fielding sport where a player swings a bat to hit a ball that’s moving through the air. Each team tries to score as many runs as possible before reaching the maximum allowed number of “outs.” Both sports incorporate the physical skills of throwing, catching, running, and leaping.
Cricket also has its own distinctive features and rules, such as:
- The “pitch” (field) is an oval shape rather than a diamond and, since there are no foul lines, the “batsman” (batter) is free to hit the ball anywhere.
- In contrast to baseball’s nine-inning games, cricket games are one inning, with the teams switching from offense to defense after 10 outs rather than three.
- With the exception of the “wicket keeper” (a combination of a back catcher and a goalie), cricket players do not wear gloves or protective equipment.
- When the “bowler” (pitcher) throws the ball to the batter, it can be purposely bounced off the ground before it is hit.
Cricket in schools: It’s a growing trend!
Cricket is gaining momentum as a fun physical activity option in schools across Canada. For example, schools in Manitoba participate in an annual Kanga Cricket Jamboree, and a Cricket Canada school partnership called CC Kids is expanding to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
In Ontario, the Ontario School Cricket Association (OSCA) runs an innovative in-school program to “engage school children from diverse communities through cricket.” Along with its founding partners, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and Canadian Tire Corporation, OSCA delivers equitable access to cricket by providing free equipment along with teacher training (both virtual and in-person).
Prior to the pandemic, OSCA had 150 schools (over 5,000 students) registered in the program, and the sport was a hit in phys ed classes at all grade levels. “The game can be easily modified to keep all students active and participating for a full 30-minute class,” says OSCA board member Ranil Mendis.
If you’d like to find out more about cricket programs in your province, click the relevant provincial association link on Cricket Canada’s “About Us” page.
“At the highest level, the game requires both brain and brawn, involving strategy, tactics and technique,” Mendis says. However, the benefits of cricket don’t end with physical activity and sport-specific skills.
Cricket teaches teamwork and positive behaviour, and these parts of the game are taken very seriously. At all levels, the “Spirit of Cricket” award is presented to recognize fair play, integrity, and respect for others. “In cricket, players are expected to win magnanimously and be dignified in defeat,” Mendis explains.
Finally, cricket provides a cross-cultural experience that can engage young people from all backgrounds. “Cricket is an inclusive sport, regardless of ability, ethnicity or gender,” Mendis says. “It’s a great unifier that can bring diverse communities together.”
Want to learn more?
- If you live in Ontario and would like more details about in-school programs, visit the OSCA website.
- For information about cricket programs in other provinces, you’ll find provincial association links on Cricket Canada’s website.
- To search for local or community programs, try Googling “cricket kids” plus the name of your city.
- Finally, for a light-hearted introduction to the sport, check out this classic video from CBC’s Rick Mercer.