DreamCricket.com presents a series on USA's best cricket groundsThis series explores the best grounds in USA selected on the basis of the ground's setting, the passion that went into creating the ground, and the pitch and outfield quality. We are starting the series with 5 private grounds primarily because these are symbols of individual devotion to the game. If you know of more grounds - private or public - please email us at content @ dreamcricket . com
Mark Hobson describes his cricket field as "a little bit of England" in Greensboro, North Carolina. He encourages the players to wear whites during matches and even during practice. He is a traditionalist at heart.
By Peter Simunovich
Mark Hobson describes his cricket field as "a little bit of England" in Climax near Greensboro, North Carolina. He encourages the players to wear whites during matches and even during practice. He is a traditionalist at heart.
Hobson Field, Climax, NC - Aerial View. One man's passion!
The field is on seven acres of property and blessed with the right shape and the right topography for a cricket ground 160 yards long and 150 yards wide. The ground shares the space with a house and what was once a church, has a septic system, a scoreboard - shipped in from Australia - bathrooms (handicap accessible), fencing, bench seating and even some rocking chairs in front of the house that adds to the park cricket atmosphere.
The pitch is made of concrete with outdoor carpeting and three teams play their home matches at the field, which also has practice nets.
The ground features a pavilion and an amazing outfield.
The church house is used as a clubhouse and meeting room while the house reminds Hobson of the Ealing Cricket Club's pavilion in West London where he played cricket before he came to the United States 29 years ago for a two week vacation. He also played junior cricket with Middlesex.
Hobson, now 49, a senior executive with a mattress company and married with two children, remembers when he had $1,200 in his pocket, no job and nowhere to live. But this is a country where dreams can come true.
He now leads a comfortable life, still loves his cricket and still is the wicketkeeper for High Point Cricket Club in the 36-team Mid Atlantic Cricket Conference.
Hobson has a nice success story to tell and how he has helped cricket flourish in North Carolina. But he is reluctant to talk about how he has spent a considerable amount of his own money to buy the land and turn it into a cricket field so the game can grow even more.
The Hobson pitch is concrete with outdoor carpeting selected to get the right bounce.
Hobson recalls how he first moved around in Florida, Illinois and Minnesota and how he drove around North Carolina without finding a field for teams to play cricket.
After he bought the land he faced many obstacles before he eventually got the go ahead from local authorities. At first, it was tough, few people in the area had heard of cricket let alone watched it, and there was a mountain of red tape, hearings and letter writing to be completed before he was given the green light. It took him three years to make this dream come true. In the process, he created "a piece of the British Commonwealth in a rural stretch of the Triad," as one newspaper wrote.
Hobson even laughs about it now when he remembers how people thought he wanted to grow cricket bugs for fishing instead of having a cricket field.
Mark Hobson enjoying a match on his ground
Now he has professional landscapers help to keep the field in good shape, neat and tidy and a woman named Pam, who lives in the house on the property, helps with cutting the grass.
"I love cricket. This is the culmination of a dream," he told DreamCricket.com. "I want to give back to the cricket community. I am an immigrant who came here with nothing and got a chance to do something. I was fortunate enough to spend money on this. It is my legacy."
Asked if in the future his field would have a turf pitch, Hobson said: "The game is still recreational and there is too much maintenance."
Hobson describes the standard in his Mid Atlantic Cricket Conference as high. He said: "I am impressed with the players, the spirit and their attitude."
He says the league has about 500 active players with 65 percent from India, 20 percent Pakistan and the rest from cricket playing countries like Australia, West Indies and Britain.
Hobson is clearly attached to his field, the Cape Cod style home and the surroundings, he said: "I might retire in the house one day."
Mark Hobson - what a legacy to leave behind
Mark plays for High Point Cricket Club.