By Matthew Dunn, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The game of cricket is starting to gain traction in New England, and local Westborough Cricket Club is doing their part to help grow the game in the region.
Nishit Mehta heads up the Westborough Cricket Club, drawing on his lifelong love of the game to help establish the club as well as the Westborough Cricket League – offering competitive league play each autumn.
Mehta was born and raised in India and credits the popularity of the game there, which sparked his interest at a young age, to his continued passion for the sport.
“Growing up, in school, high school, college, everyone was talking about and playing cricket,” he recalled.
Upon his move to the United States, his love of the sport followed.
In 2015 Mehta and others started playing cricket in the greater Westborough area as members of another local club. Unhappy with the playing conditions and lack of proper set-up, they founded the Westborough Cricket Club and worked to raise funds for the construction of a cricket pitch at Hennessey Field, 1 Upton Rd. in Westborough.
“Once we had a beautiful field to play on, the next most logical step was to get a bunch of teams to play there,” Mehta said, referencing the formation of the Westborough Cricket League – an autumn league that spans 7-weeks, culminating in a championship match between local teams.
Noting the sharp increase in interest for the game over the last few years, the Westborough Cricket Club and the associated league offer opportunities for those interested in cricket to learn and participate in the game.
Traditional cricket involves the use of a hard leather wrapped ball, often traveling at speeds that can cause injury to players if they are not using proper equipment or lack experience during a full-speed game. As an alternative, the Westborough Cricket Club offers games using a firm tennis ball for safety; and they are not alone.
“In 2015 there were about 27 teams in New England and today there are about 42 teams just playing with the tennis ball,” Mehta said, noting that tennis ball cricket is becoming increasing popular amongst the older adult crowd.
“There is a separate league that plays leather ball cricket with about 45 teams,” he added.
Like any good steward of the game, Mehta remains focused on getting those interested involved, especially for those who may not be familiar with the game.
“We try to make social and community events out of cricket – community gatherings bring more people out and adds to the sport” Mehta said.
In addition to trying to generate community interest in the sport through hosted events, Mehta knows the importance of getting local youth involved to play cricket.
“The best way to expand the scope is to have youth involved – we want to continue to focus on coaching youth cricket and opening a dialogue with schools about the game,” he said.
For those interested in the game and wanting to get involved, Mehta encourages participants to join them Wednesday evenings at Hennessey Field in Westborough as well as watching the Westborough Cricket League tournament each fall.
More information can be found on the Westborough Cricket Club’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/webocricket.