By a historic 4-1 vote on March 17th, Cupertino City Council
approved the first turf wicket in the Bay Area. The turf field will be
located adjacent to the Cupertino library and will feature an outfield
that will be mowed to exacting international standards.
Cricket Academy will share the cost of laying the pitch and also cover
any maintenance costs over and above the $5,000 that the city will
spend. The field, which is expected to be ready by June, has a
shorter boundary which makes it ideal for junior and women’s cricket
where a 55 yard boundary is deemed sufficient.
Pic (Right): The current cricket field adjacent to the Cupertino
library will be upgraded to international standards with a turf
wicket. [Courtesy; Google Earth]
Hemant Buch, the Chairman of the Western Region for USACA, was among
the leading proponents of upgrading the pitch to turf. Expressing his
thanks to the Cupertino City Council, the Mayor, the City Manager David
Knapp and Park Director Mark Linder, Mr. Buch said “I am extremely
pleased with the outcome. It is a historic step for junior cricket in
the Bay Area and we are open to sharing our experience with others in
this region and in cities around the country.”
Mahesh Nihalani, a member of the Cupertino Chamber of Commerce, was
instrumental in obtaining support for the idea among the City
Council. Mr. Nihalani, a recipient of Cupertino’s Distinguished
Citizen of the Year award in 2009, called the development a natural
next step in the evolution of the game in Cupertino.
“This is another milestone in a journey that began in 2003 when the
first seeds of cricket were sown by California Cricket Academy (CCA).
The Councilmen, both present and past, have been supportive of the
efforts to promote cricket,” Mr. Nihalani said. Mr. Nihalani said that
there is a lot of goodwill and cooperation for the sport, and that was
because of the active canvassing for support by Cupertino’s grassroots
volunteers like Hemant Buch and Ram Varadarajan.
Cupertino resident Ram Varadarajan, who ran unsuccesfully for President
of USACA in 2008, called it a good investment in the future of the city
and in the future of cricket in the country. “Cupertino is generally
known as the headquarters of Apple, but among the cricket playing
community, the city will now be identified with youth cricket.”
In fact, that may already be the case! A photo of a junior cricket match features prominently on the city's website alongside photos of headquarters buildings of Cupertino's more famous high-tech tenants!
Mr. Varadarajan reiterated that the goal must be to promote the game
beyond its immigrant base. “One positive consequence of this increased
popularity of cricket here is that it becomes easier to take the next
step, which is to introduce cricket to the mainstream,” he said.
The same thing had happened to other sports like table tennis and
badminton, ‘Fees collected from those games are now producing a
financial boon for the city,’ the San Jose Mercury News quoted Vice
Mayor Wong as saying.
Calling the step a “forward thinking” one, Mr. Buch thanked Raj Padhi
and Abrar Ahmad for offering their support in converting thought to
action. “Abrar Ahmad will be the consultant to the city for the
pitch,” Mr. Buch said.
Raj Padhi already has plans for using the turf wicket for the national
women’s tournament in June. "For cricket players, playing on an
official turf wicket is a dream come true. It's the real challenge,"
Mr. Padhi, USACA Director for the Western Region, told San Jose Mercury
News. The June tournament will feature four teams from across the
country and will bring a lot of attention to Cupertino. "My hope is
that the tournament will spur a whole new energy about the game." Padhi