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The Paw Print

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The Paw Print

News for Wildcats, by Wildcats.

The Paw Print

Cricket to take over Normal West

Leah Smolen
In his free time, Vrajesh Patel (12) teaches Dr. Bierbaum about cricket in preparation for the ICC Mens T20 World Cup.

Despite being one of the largest international sports, cricket lacks popularity in the United States while being in competition with sports like American football and baseball. 

However, locally, cricket has been gaining attraction, with clubs like the Bloomington-Normal Premier League and the Central Illinois Cricket Association. 

At Normal Community West High School, cricket has absolutely taken over the social studies department. 

Cricket is played with a ball, a bat (similar to the baseball bat, but flatter), and eleven players on each team. 

The game is played on an oval-shaped field with 3 stakes (wickets) near the pitch. 

Rather than 3 bases, there are 2 stumps on each end of the pitch and are used to determine if the batsman or the bowler (pitcher) has scored a point. Points, or runs, are scored by the batsman hitting the ball, then running to the other end of the pitch before a fielder can catch it and throw it back. 

Internationally, cricket was the 2nd most popular sport in 2023, just behind soccer (globally known as association football), according to data collected by 

The local fascination has begun to grow in the United States, with an international stadium being built in Nassau County, New York. 

The stadium will host 8 matches of the International Cricket Council Men’s T20 World Cup 2024. 

At Normal West, cricket has been available for students to play at West Fest, but there isn’t a current official club or team. 

“There were a lot of people at West Fest who followed cricket, and we were jam-packed for around 2 hours,” senior Vrajesh Patel states. 

The game reached the social studies department during presentations to Regional World Studies classes about Indian culture by Patel. 

“We wanted to immerse ourselves into other cultures, and one of the things that came up for the department is the fact that cricket is one of the most popular sports in the entire world, and it’s something that a lot of people [in the US] don’t know much about,” chair of the social studies department Mr. John Bierbaum states. 

Patel moved to the United States from India in 2020 and has attended NCWHS since. 

During the 2022-2023 school year, Patel was asked by the social studies department to give presentations about India, so students could hear first-hand about a culture that may be different than their own. 

This year, cricket became a main focus, and the entire social studies department has been engulfed in the game. 

“The US doesn’t have many cricket stadiums, since it’s not a big sport, but they have made a whole cricket stadium in three months,” Patel states. 

He is looking forward to watching the matches that will take place in Nassau County.  

In August of 2023, Patel created a document featuring the basic rules of cricket to share with Bierbaum. 

Since then, the document has been shared with the social studies department and several students and updated to provide more in-depth features of the gameplay, including several video links and tutorials. 

Now, as the ICC Men’s World Cup 2024 preparations take place, the social studies department is going all out. 

Cricket jerseys have been ordered for social studies teachers from India, and each teacher will represent a different Indian state. 

“At the beginning of the Indian Premier League, we

 are going to have a kind of, ‘how-to-cricket,’ and we are going to celebrate the day with cricket and jerseys,” Bierbaum states. 

“It really is about bringing awareness to the sport,” Patel shares. 

Outside of the sport, cricket has been a way to introduce and integrate other cultures into NCWHS.

 “At the basic level, this is just for cultural awareness and maybe just getting excited about cricket in the hopes that students understand this is something to be excited about” Bierbaum states. 

However, Patel is graduating at the end of the school year, which means a loss for the cricket-crazy department. 

But Bierbaum believes more students will get involved. “I absolutely think that this will add to the growing interest in cricket.” 

As Normal West looks for new ways to introduce different cultures to students, cricket has proven successful. 

Check out upcoming matches, such as the Men’s World Cup in June and the Women’s World Cup in October.

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