Columbia cricket group seeks to spread the sport across the Midlands

Posted 7/3/24

Cricket in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh has a popularity similar to football in America.

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Columbia cricket group seeks to spread the sport across the Midlands


Cricket in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh has a popularity similar to football in America.

Long-time Midlands resident Abednego Sigamani said the sport is treated like a religion by some. Since moving to the area in 1995, his goal has been to spread enthusiasm for the game to locals.

“They say it’s a religion, and the people who play, they look at them as a god,” Sigamani said. “I saw one of the ways that I could bring people together, for the men to do something, was cricket.”

Cricket is a game unfamiliar to most Americans, but it is the second most-watched sport in the world. It has similar concepts to baseball, but it is a completely different ball game. Sigamani said the best way to learn is to watch YouTube, live games and play.

The rules are fairly simple. Two teams of 11 players take turns batting and fielding. The batting team aims to score as many runs as possible before losing all 10 wickets (outs). The fielding team looks to dismiss the batsmen by knocking down the wicket stumps and limiting the opposing team’s score. Whoever has the most runs at the end wins.

“It’s easy to learn. Baseball has four bases. Cricket has only two,” Sigamani said.

Cricket came from England and spread to British colonies. The sport saw a huge spike in interest in these places, and its popularity soared. The first international match was between the United States and Canada in 1844. Canada won the match by 23 runs.

“America lost, and then they never pursued it. You know America doesn’t like losing,” Sigamani said.

While the U.S. might not be as locked into cricket as they are in some of their homegrown sports, the country took notice recently when the U.S. national team completed one of the biggest upsets in the sport’s history by defeating Pakistan in the T20 World Cup.

USA Cricket was center stage as it hosted the tournament and made its first appearance after automatic qualification. The team impressed and advanced to the Super Eight before being eliminated.

“They have stadiums now built here,” Sigamani said. “It’s really growing, and we want to pursue growing cricket in Lexington.”

Sigamani was one of the founders of the Columbia cricket group, which now includes over 200 members from around the metropolitan area. The group plays in leagues every six weeks with about two months off in the winter time.

“We play games, and we do it exactly as the international game,” Sigamani said. “We have everything on Facebook and social media. We bring people together and have tournaments in Lexington.”

The last league wrapped in June and the next league starts on July 13. While the group had been playing on a field at the Gibson Road Soccer Complex, Sigamani said the future is uncertain.

“We definitely need an alternate ground, and we’re looking for it,” Sigamani said.

Sigamani is not sure how much longer Gibson will be available to the group and has had a difficult time finding a potential replacement.

“We don’t have an option yet, but any baseball ground will be good,” he said.

Not finding a suitable replacement ground would be devastating and prevent any more growth, Sigamani said.

“That’s one of the biggest challenges we are facing already, to just think about that, it will kill our sport and the passion for this game,” he said.

With a suitable home, Sigamani can better execute his vision for the expansion of cricket in Lexington County and the rest of the Midlands area. He wants to continue the Columbia League, introduce a new audience to the sport and hopefully partner with schools and find sponsors in the future.

“The passion that we have for the game, we love others also, and I want to spread that to them,” Sigamani said. “People are emotional in how much they love this game, exactly like football in America.”

Cricket, Columbia Cricket League, Abednego Sigamani, U.S. Cricket


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