provided by Sameer Anand
In their first season, the Mercer club cricket team is nationally ranked, and two players have been recognized as the best American college players of 2015. It’s been an exciting few weeks for the team, said teammates Sameer Anand, Wesley Evermon and Sam Brunk.
At the end of December, American College Cricket announced the winner of the John Bard King Award. The award, named after one of America’s greatest cricketers who played the game from 1893 to 1912, is awarded to American players whose parents did not come from a cricket playing country. Most recipients have “learned to play the game in college,” according to the American College Cricket’s website.
Evermon and Brunk were awarded the prize. The pair have been playing cricket for less than a year.
Evermon and Brunk were recruited by fellow Alpha Tau Omega brothers Yash Patel and Sameer Anand. Patel and Anand had played the sport in Toronto and Atlanta, respectively. They wanted to bring the sport to Mercer.
Brunk’s interest in cricket developed slowly. The sophomore spent time hanging out with Patel and Anand as the three watched matches late at night. Sam had played baseball—cricket’s American cousin—competitively since he was 13 and throughout high school, he played varsity tennis. He took his first swings with a cricket back in February.
“We had been playing three-person cricket. It was kind of sad, actually. We had one guy keeping, one guy bowling and one guys batting,” Brunk said.
Evermon came to his first practice in April. He’d played baseball since he was able to pick up a bat and played all the way through high school. Evermon got a few scholarship offers from D2 and D3 schools, but chose instead to come to Mercer. He wasn’t getting D1 offers, so he decided to give baseball up. Evermon soon found cricket, and he was a natural.
“I could see the big part about [cricket] was hand-eye coordination. That’s what you have to have to play the game,” Evermon said. “Baseball did that for me. It wasn’t the same, but it definitely helped in the beginning.”
The two were chosen for their stellar on-the-field performance. In their first four games against Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern and two in the Southeastern regional, Wesley scored 55 runs in 31 balls with 6 fours and 3 sixes vs Georgia Southern, and 28 off 35 balls with 2 fours vs USF. Brunk took 3 wickets for 10 runs in 3 overs vs Georgia Southern. The accolades didn’t stop.
In mid-January, American College Cricket released their Top 50 ranking. The Mercer Bears were #39 out of 70 total teams. In four matches this season, the Bears are 1-3. With losses to Georgia Tech (#31), Florida State University (#42) and University of Southern Florida (#3).
The two losses to Florida State and USF were particularly trying, the three teammates said.
“There’s a really big gap [between them and us],” Evermon said. “It was embarrassing. We had no idea what was coming and it hit us. It was a good experience. We realized where we are and what position we are in and how we can … better ourselves.”
Moving forward, Anand says the team is looking to secure more funding. They received $3,000 from the university, while Anand and Patel donated $750 of equipment each. But cricket is an expensive sport.
“The mat alone was $1,700, so that takes up most of your funds,” Brunk said.
The team had been practicing in Tattnall Square Park, but once Mercer began giving time practice time on Orange Field, the team moved there. The new field wasn’t as crowded, but it has also posed some geographic challenges—the field isn’t large enough.
“We’ve lost a ton of balls because they’ve been hit in the woods or over the street,” Evermon said.
When the ball is replaced, the way the game is played changes, Anand said.
“The average life of a ball in cricket is at least 480 [bowls],” he said. “The way the ball altered, the way the ball is hit, the way the ball is shined affects the way the game is played. It’s a big deal. It’s a very bad thing to lose a ball.”
In spite of the monetary and logistical challenges, the cricketers must move forward. Their next match is Saturday, Jan. 30 at 1 p.m. on Orange Field against Georgia Southern.