British ‘Baseball' | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

British ‘Baseball'


The Jackson State University Cricket Club hams it up for the camera.

Two rabid sets of fans fill the stands, each side cheering loudly. A world championship is in reach, and the fate of a bitter rivalry is at stake for both teams. Clinging to a five-run lead as the game nears the end, a pitcher is about to deliver the biggest pitch of this event.

Calmly, the tall captain uses his left sleeve to wipe the sweat from this brow. He places his batting helmet on his head as he faces the pitcher.

Time slows as the pitcher winds up and throws the ball. The captain swings with a mighty effort.

The crowd grows silent at the loud crack of the bat. Straightening from his batting stance the captain watches the ball fly out of the park for six runs and the victory.

Six runs? Wait. How do you score six runs with one swing of the bat?

You play cricket. It's how India beat Sri Lanka in the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

Cricket lost favor in America around the time of the Civil War for the quicker game of baseball. Cricket remains hugely popular, however, in many countries, including England, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan. This past April, to learn the sport in the U.S., I had to get up at 3 a.m. to watch the Cricket World Cup online on ESPN Star network.

Baseball and cricket are similar sports. Both have pitchers—called bowlers in cricket—and both sports have batters, except cricket has two batters.

At Jackson State University, cricket is played as a club sport, meaning it is not SWAC-sponsored. Players of the Jackson State University Cricket Club do not get scholarships to play. Team captain Umesh Reddy Remata, an IT worker at JSU, and student-player Naveen Reddy Arra say that the young men play for the pure love of the game.

The JSUCC was started in 2009 and has made quick strides in the region. Remata says the club recently beat the cricket club from the University of Memphis to win the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa Cricket Tournament.

Remata and Arra starting playing cricket in their native India. In fact, most of the JSU team members are from India, and they're thrilled that their country won the World Cup. Because it's a club sport, it allows people from all walks of life to play, not just JSU students.

The JSUCC is a nonprofit organization and exists because of donations and sponsors like JSU, team members and area businesses such as Ruchi India restaurant in Ridgeland. The sponsors have allowed the team to buy equipment and uniforms and travel to tournaments. The club was featured during International Week at JSU in April with players demonstrating cricket to students.

Remata wants to see more Americans try the sport. He knows its close link to baseball could lead to success for American players. He says that he hopes to help JSU and the surrounding area by being a positive influence and grow the club to help the community.

In May, the JSUCC and the Mississippi State University Cricket Club came to Jackson State to play an exhibition game at Jackson State. Last year, the two teams were set to meet in Jackson, but the event was rained out. In a short time, the JSUCC and MSUCC have built an in-state rivalry. Remata says that a major goal this coming season is to win the Bulldog Championship Cup at the MSU tournament. The JSU team would also love to beat Auburn University, another strong competitor in this region, Arra says.

The team practices at Brighton Park (530 Brighton St., off old U.S. 80 in Clinton), and anyone can come out and try the sport. "We love to play Saturday and Sunday at the park and welcome any and every one," Remata says.

He adds that the game started in England, came around the world, and found a home at JSU.

For more information, visit the JSUCC website (, or email [e-mail missing]. The team provides all equipment to players through donations and sponsors. While the club waits for the chance to win the Bulldog Championship Cup later this year (at a date and location to be determined), it will demonstrate cricket at the Madison Library (994 Madison Ave., 601-856-2749) in June. Contact the club for the exact date and time.

Support our reporting -- Follow the MFP.