Going places: IUPUI’s coaching program charts cricket's growth in USA
With the International Cricket Council (ICC) making an all-out effort to streamline cricket with a vision to develop the sport in the United States of America, undergraduate physical education and sports management students at the universities can play a big role in introducing and promoting the sport in the country.
On Wednesday, 21 more undergraduate students at Indiana University – Purdue Indianapolis (IUPUI) were given a practical cricket lesson by certified international cricket coach Jatin Patel who is a pioneer in cricket education at the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis.
Jatin Patel, who holds Cricket Australia and many USA soccer coaching credentials, introduced the program in 2013. Since then IUPUI has been organizing 'Basics of Cricket' education and coach certification programs each year. 2017 marks the fifth successive year that the program has been conducted. The program uses USYCA youth cricket sets and the American Cricket Federation’s cricket coaching certification program for educational purposes only.
The students go through a physical education class in cricket under Sandy Barnett, an Indiana University’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education lecturer for the IU School of Physical Education and Tourism Management at the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis. Since 2013 and during the fall semester each year, participating students receive a basic practical education in the sport through on-field sessions at the semester’s end.
Drawing parallels between cricket and baseball
Jatin Patel delivers the basic practical cricket lesson, including throwing the ball, catching, running between the wickets, bowling, playing strokes, wicket-keeping, and the proper use of the batting crease.
He explained that the batter (in baseball) is known as batsman or hitter, and the pitcher (in baseball) is known as a bowler in cricket. There are a lot of similarities between baseball and cricket, however cricket is the more popular of the two sports in the world, although a number of developed countries do not play the game.
The 'future physical education teachers/coaches' were divided into groups to get the practical experience in all the vital areas of the sport. Some students, including girls, displayed their skills in hitting as well as bowling with confidence, and in a mature manner.
The students used tennis balls and youth sized bats to experience the initial introduction to cricket. Coach Jatin Patel, Director of Coaching and Convener for the Advisory and Judicial Committee for ACF as a Youth Cricket Representative, later offered the students the chance to have a feel of the wooden cricket bat, colored and the white leather cricket balls used for day and day-night cricket matches. He also displayed the safety equipment, including helmets, pads, gloves, thigh and arm pads, etc.
Indiana is the only state in the USA at the moment offering such cricket coach education programs (Introduced to five different colleges and universities), with a prime focus to develop future primary education programs for schools based on the simple concept of how PE teachers and coaches alike, can better understand the game, and how they wish/want to teach future scholars of the sport.
USA Cricket recently announced a number of zonal volunteer positions in the areas of performance, participation, and membership; with a view to continuing to build a new USA Cricket national governing body and growth of the sport. USA Cricket in a recent communication to stakeholders stated, "As we look to expand our reach and deliver various activities within the community, local support will be helpful to realize the potential of these initiatives across the country."
USA Cricket’s intention is to employ both full-time and part-time staff in the near future in the Zones. The communication further stated, it is important to hire such paid staff under the leadership of the newly elected Board.
The volunteer roles will help to bridge that gap until USA Cricket can hire these positions and the voluntary roles will be reassessed once the Board is seated. Keeping in mind these developments to promote cricket in the USA, the IUPUI’s program and other college cricket education programs can play a significant role, in the development and growth of the sport in the USA.