By Peter Simunovich
It is Edward Fox's cricket field of dreams. It took him five years to build it the way he wanted it to look and it cost him an estimated $120,000. It was a labor of love and he doesn't really mind that he spent so much out of his own pocket.
The Foxfire field is in Haysville, about 20 miles from Wichita in Kansas. It is not a state of the art field nor is it anything like the Sydney Cricket Ground or the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia where he was born.
Foxfire Field, Haysville, Kansas - Aerial View. Field of dreams!
But it is his. And the 41-year-old, who is from Grafton, New South Wales, built it for cricket, a game he began playing as a child. Now married with three children - two sons and a daughter - he has lived in the United States for 19 years.
Fox, who is a very much hands-on type of guy and works from his home as an entrepreneur in a number of various small businesses, missed cricket after moving to the US.
He is now captain and all-rounder of the Wichita World XI team, which plays in the Tri-State Cricket League (comprising teams from Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkasas) and, yes, you guessed it, he is president of the league as well. While he loved his weekend playing commitments, it wasn't enough.
After a series of getting through red tape and endless meetings with local government authorities he finally succeeded in building his field of dreams. The field and his home is on 15 acres of land and one of the success stories from the field is his son, Jason, 14, who was selected in the US Under 15 squad as a batsman-wicketkeeper.
"It is basically my field of dreams," he said proudly in an interview with DreamCricket.com
. He bought the land in late 2002 and now the field boasts an artificial pitch, a 30ft by 50ft pavilion with two bathrooms, one shower, a 54-inch TV and 30 seats in front of the pavilion.
Fox's field has free admission on game days and his wife prepares a free lunch with beverages for the 30 to 40 fans, family and friends of players. When Fox isnâ€™t playing and can find a few minutes away from his multi tasking jobs, he is also groundsman of the field.
"I love it. It is a hobby. I could have gone into boating, but I like to see a lot of juniors playing cricket," he said. "When I came here the thing I missed was cricket. I wanted to create a legacy.
"I can now step out of my house and walk 100 yards to the field."
Over the years Fox went to schools and introduced children to schools. He coached them on the finer points of the game. He was making inroads, but it wasn't enough. Fox wanted a field with a pitch and proper facilities.
The wicket area, by the way, is 12ft by 90ft, which he thinks might be "the largest concrete pitch in the US." It is made up of a four-inch concrete base with fiber mesh and topped with good quality artificial turf.
"The goal is to one day have a turf pitch," he said.
The pavilion is adorned by flags of the cricketing world!
Fox describes the Wichita team as the A to Z of cricket. "We have players from America to Zimbabwe and in between," he said.
He described the competition as a C grade pub competition, but quickly added that there were some players who had the ability and talent that could compete at a high level.
Fox has done more than create a legacy. He has introduced cricket, a game he loves and respects to Haysville and has given many players the chance to compete on a better field with facilities that some larger cities in the US do not offer cricketers.
The field is also a starting point for future players to one day represent the US, beginning with his son, Jason, already a junior member of the US cricket team.