It was a cool, fall, October morning with the temperature hovering around 59 degrees. Excitement was brewing in the air as the 5th graders at Glenn Dale Elementary School (GDES) in Glenn Dale, Maryland were getting ready for their first cricket match.
Mr. Ryan Foster, the PE teacher, already had the United States Youth Cricket Association (USYCA) wickets set up and had colorfully marked the boundaries with orange and black disc cones. Mr. Foster divided the class into two teams of 14 players with the same number of boys and girls on each team. The fielders took their places in the field, and the bowler was ready to go. The two batsmen were at the creases, and their teammates were lined-up on the sideline eagerly awaiting their turn to bat. When the game started, the batsmen were cheered on by their teammates as they hit the ball in the outfield and scored runs. The fielders hurried to get the ball from the outfield back to the bowler and wicketkeeper. There were fours, sixes, singles, doubles, triples, run outs, bowled out, and a lot of cheering, laughter, and smiling faces. Everyone had a fun PE session.
And to think that two months ago, Mr. Foster knew nothing about cricket. He was first introduced to the game at the Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) Professional Day for PE teachers in August at Laurel High School in Laurel, Maryland. Mr. Foster thought that cricket would be a fun sport for his students to try. With support from the principal, Mr. David Dove, and the office staff, GDES purchased three cricket sets for the PE classes. GDES also got a free cricket set from the USYCA. Over a two week period, Mr. Foster slowly started introducing cricket to his 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, teaching them the terminology, as well as the mechanics on how to get out, catch a ball, and bowl. Mr. Foster then asked Sham Chotoo of the Bowie Boys and Girls Club (BBGC) and Maryland Youth Cricket Association (MYCA) for a cricket demonstration to bring everything together for the kids. This was the most well prepared group of kids that Coach Sham introduced to cricket.
GDES is planning to install a dirt cricket pitch at the school. There is a large grass field that was initially used for baseball but has not been used for any organized sporting activity in quite a long time. Mr. Foster would like to turn this area into a cricket field for practices and matches against other schools. With the approval of Principal Dove, GDES is planning to install a dirt strip 66 ft x 10 ft in the center of the grass field. For a cricket pitch, the dirt must have a high clay content to remain hard and compact for the cricket ball to have a nice, predictable bounce. Since the BEST Cricket League uses tennis balls covered with electrical tape, a dirt cricket pitch will work well.
All the 4th and 5th graders could not wait to get further information on signing up for the GDES Cricket Team. Once the flyers went home, the 15 spots on the team were quickly filled, and the team had its first practice in October 2015. The students are all eager to play in the Bowie Elementary School Teams (BEST) Cricket League, which will start its 3rd season in March 2016. A few students already have their eyes on the Best Batsman trophy and the Best Bowler trophy, which are provided by the BEST Cricket League. For each team, the batsman who scores the most runs in the tournament gets a Best Batsman trophy. The bowler on each team, who gets the most wickets (or most outs), gets a Best Bowler trophy. After less than a month of cricket, there are many talented cricketers at GDES with great potential.
Cricket has really taken off at GDES due to the dedication of Mr. Foster and the support of Principal Dove and others at the school.