Now, you can get all the USA Cricket updates via Facebook. Also follow us on Twitter via @dreamcricket
By Peter Della Penna
someone who has scaled the tallest mountain peak in the lower 48
states, reaching great heights in the world of cricket may not seem all
that difficult in comparison. After starting from scratch just over a
year ago, that is exactly what Erica Rendler has done.
Pic (Right): Erica
Rendler keeps her eye on the ball during a USA women's squad training
session at Gateway Park in Brooklyn, NY.[Courtesy Peter Della Penna]
The 29-year-old from San Jose, Calif., has gone from knowing
nothing about the game in 2009 to being selected for the USA women’s
national team in 2010.
“I was stunned,” said Ben Roxborough, the Australian fiancé of Erica’s
older sister Kate, when asked how he reacted after he found out Rendler
had made the team. “I was just very happy for her, but you know what, I
wasn’t surprised though because I just knew that she’s got a sporting
gift, particularly with ball and bat sports whether it’s softball or
field hockey. I thought those skills would graft very well across, but
the way that she’s been able to pick up the bowling is just
Indeed, there are several things that are extraordinary about Rendler
and how she has taken to cricket. The only American-born player in
USA’s squad that will take on Canada this week, Rendler first
encountered cricket when the family took a trip in February of last
year to visit Roxborough in Australia. Kate, Erica, her younger brother
Doug and Roxborough were coming out of the Melbourne Zoo when they saw
a local cricket match being played across the street. Erica took notice
and became quite curious. It was clear to Roxborough that she wasn’t
just being polite, but was genuinely interested with all the questions
she was peppering him with about this sport.
“It was probably about 100 degrees and we were out in an open field,
not under the shade,” said Roxborough. “I mean we could walk under the
shade but she wanted to be as close to the boundary line as possible.
So what we did was we stood directly behind the bowler’s arm and this
is where she became particularly interested with the swing and movement
that you can achieve from bowling, be it through the air or off the
Upon returning to America, Rendler’s interest was sustained after she
found an ad online looking for players to join a local women’s team.
“I was really curious to try it out and locally in the Bay Area I saw
an ad on Craigslist for the Western Firebirds women’s cricket accepting
all skill levels,” said Rendler. After contacting USACA Western Region
board member Raj Padhi, who was organizing the practices, she came the
next day and the rest is history.
“It was really nice,” said Rendler. “I just found everyone to be really
friendly and the basic skills I already had from other sports in terms
of fielding and throwing. So I think just batting and bowling were the
two techniques where I needed to adjust things that I’ve done in the
Prior to cricket, Rendler seems to have taken a stab at just about
everything under the sun. She grew up playing soccer, swimming,
basketball, track & field, softball and field hockey. According to
her brother Doug, she is also quite skilled at alternative sports such
as snowboarding and cycling and has climbed the 14,505 feet high Mount
Whitney in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Rendler has also been
a DJ on “The Delirium Show” for Santa Clara University’s student radio
station, KSCU. While Doug gladly talked up his sister’s wide-ranging
endeavors, Erica comes off as too humble to even bring them up, let
alone boast about them.
“You look at her on the field and you feel just almost that wow
factor,” said Doug. “Field hockey she tried out for the first time and
immediately saw success with that and a great athlete on the basketball
court. There’s few things she doesn’t do well in terms of sports.”
Rendler attended San Jose’s Archibishop Mitty High School, which was
ranked by Sports Illustrated as the #5 high school athletics program in
the country in 2006-07 and #3 in 2008-09, ahead of many other well
known California multi-sport powerhouses such as Mater Dei and Long
Beach Poly. The school’s alumni include 2004 & 2008 Olympic beach
volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh and 1999 Women’s Soccer World Cup
hero Brandi Chastain. Rendler played varsity softball and field hockey
at Archbishop Mitty before going on to play two years of field hockey
at UC-Berkeley, where she double majored in political science and
Despite playing cricket for just over a year, Rendler’s athleticism has
helped her get up to speed. At a training session in New York before
the team left for Canada, Rendler appears tall and well-built while
fielding between point and cover, ready to pounce on anything coming
her way. When it came time for her to practice her batting out in the
middle, she demonstrated a straight bat technique that was adequate but
with more experience and coaching could become much better. Meanwhile
she looked quite comfortable bashing anything short through the leg
side. For someone who has played cricket for just over a year, her seam
bowling action was impressive.
“I just think athletically I’m definitely one of the top of the group
coordination-wise,” said Rendler with a tone of quiet confidence. “I
don’t think there’s anything I can’t do so it’s just a matter of time
before I can get better at something. I mean I feel very lucky to have
made this team but I knew out of [Western Firebirds] that definitely I
might be in the top group to possibly be selected, just from our team
Rendler went into this year’s USACA National Women’s Tournament in
nearby Cupertino, Calif., with a strong determination to prove herself
in front of selectors. Despite her limited experience, she believed a
once in a lifetime opportunity to represent her country could come as a
result of her hard work.
“I knew there was a window of opportunity, just for a chance to even be
selected to play nationally, that was a goal of mine,” said Rendler. “I
thought it was kind of out of reach but that was certainly on my mind,
at least play up to that level and be able to face players of that
caliber and pretty much not make a complete fool of myself.”
The newcomer did enough to impress the selectors and now she’ll be
missing a week of work from her job as a case analyst at a law firm.
Her colleagues are behind her, even if they don’t necessarily know too
much about the game she is playing.
“They love it. They announced it at one of our firm-wide meetings,”
said Rendler regarding her firm spreading the word about making the
national team. “When I left my work, they were all going ‘U-S-A!’ as I
walked out the door.”
“I think getting selected to the national team and representing your
country right after the World Cup where I saw the United States battle
and fight so hard to win the games they did and overcome adversity and
seeing how soccer is beginning to take more of a bigger stage across
the media and viewers, having her make the US team I think meant a lot
to her,” said Doug.
At the moment, Rendler is the only American-born player in either the
men’s or the women’s USA cricket squads. However, she feels that the
game is perfectly capable of catching on outside of expat communities
if opportunities are presented to people at a relatively young age.
“I think the more people that start playing, others will follow, in
terms of American-born baseball fans,” said Rendler. “I always hear
that Americans don’t have the attention span for a cricket game or it’s
too smart of a game but there’s so many athletes now I see at the high
school level and the junior high level, they can just pick up any sport
and it’s gonna just kind of be this peer pressure thing. If a couple
people start doing it, I think other people will follow.
“The thing I notice with cricket, once you learn how to play and
understand it, then you’re really interested in every part of the game.
But if you don’t know what’s going on, then certainly it’s more boring
and easier to tune out.”
Rendler enjoys watching Sachin Tendulkar bat, but is looking to soak up
as much knowledge as she can from her own teammates who have played at
the international level for other countries.
“It’s been great so far and just raising the level of talent here, it’s
gonna push my game as well. It feels really good to be playing with
such a talented group,” said Rendler. “Playing with Indomatie
[Goordial-John] for sure and watching everything she does. She’s a
perfect player and very athletic, a great coach and our captain Durga
[Das] as well is very good helping give me pointers. So I think I’m
focusing on the two of them kind of as mentors.”
Hopefully, her teammates will learn just as much from Rendler during
the next week as she will from them. She is proof that Americans are
capable of reaching great heights in cricket.