Students to start first women’s club cricket team in United States


Image: Hayes Rule

Sophomores Nova Alam (right) and Supreet Raina (left) were the Mercer students who had the idea of starting a women’s club cricket team.

Hayes Rule, Social Media Editor

Nova Alam wanted to play competitive cricket. Growing up in Lilburn, Georgia, Alam played the sport casually with her family in the backyard. When her cousins came over, instead of grabbing a pigskin, they would grab a wooden bat, wickets and balls.

Thanksgiving? Cricket. Christmas? Cricket. Fourth of July? Cricket.

But she never played competitively.

So when Alam saw that Mercer had a men’s club cricket team, she asked if she could join.

“I was like, ‘Hey, can girls play? I’m kind of interested,” Alam said. “And they said, ‘No, this is a men’s league.'”

So the sophomore took matters into her own hands. Along with her friend, sophomore Supreet Raina, Alam looked into creating a women’s cricket team at Mercer — the first women’s cricket team at a university in the United States, according to Petal Samuels of the GWCA (Georgia Women Cricket Association).

According to Raina, in order to become an official club, she and Alam had to find a league to play in and enough interest to field a full team. Check, and check.

But it wasn’t easy. Raina said it took months to simply find someone to play against.

“When we started thinking about this and wanting to do it, we were kind of like at a standstill, because we were like, ‘Who do we even talk to?’” Raina said. “At least with the men’s team, they have someone to talk to, some entity to contact. It really started out with just us stepping back and looking at it and going, ‘This isn’t fair. Where’s the support for a women’s team?'”

Raina eventually got in contact with the GWCA, an organization that fields the Atlanta Pearls women’s cricket team. According to the GWCA’s Facebook page, while it intends “[develop] cricketers to their fullest potential, while providing a platform to showcase their talents and skills.” It also suggests it’s using cricket to “transcend racial, economic, social and political barriers.”

Alam said creating the team was a chance to start something new ― something that would, like the GWCA suggested, promote diversity on Mercer’s campus.

“There aren’t that many girls teams here and there,” Alam said. “This is just one step forward we can use to promote that.”

And while Raina and Alam already have interest from about 30 girls ― 11 of whom have already filled out official forms ― they want to spread the word even more. The team plans to debut in fall 2017 in order to have a full semester for practices.

But since it will be the first women’s cricket team at a university, the team won’t be playing against other colleges. Mercer will be playing teams through the GWCA’s contacts.

“They know a lot of other women’s teams actually all up and down the East coast. There’s not a lot of teams, but there are teams we can play against,” Raina said. “They’re basically a rag tag group of people who have gotten together… older women, almost like senior citizen women. They’re women who are now just getting into cricket. They’re women who have previously played for countries.”

It will be the first time Alam or Raina will play cricket competitively. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t familiar with the game. Raina said her family is enthusiastic about the sport; her cousins even have their own team and play opponents in Gwinnett and around Atlanta.

Alam has had family members play professionally in Bangladesh. Utilizing her experiences, Alam simplified the game for those who aren’t familiar with it.

“It’s almost kind of like a mixture between softball and golf,” Alam said. “The ball comes flying at you, and you hit it with a really big bat.”

Given the nature of cricket, Alam said they’re ideally trying to attract girls who have played in similar sports, like tennis, softball and golf. But Raina said they’re looking for anyone who is willing or interested ― anyone who wants to try something new.

“They don’t even need to have experience. If they don’t even know what a cricket bat looks like, that’s fine,” Raina said. “We’re willing to teach them anything they need to know. We have support from other teams, other women who are ready to come in and help us learn. You don’t need any experience. You don’t need to be athletic. You don’t need to have any qualifications or prerequisites. It’s just if you have the desire to learn or the desire to try something new, then hit us up.”

Those interested in joining the team can contact Alam and Raina through the team’s Facebook page, Mercer Women’s Cricket. Raina said she hopes, one day, girls will be able to earn scholarships and awards for playing on the team; it could also be an avenue for girls to gain recognition from bigger organizations.

But for now, Alam said the team is a chance to further diversify the university.

“I feel like this could be another addition to Mercer’s goal of diversity, because this is a sport commonly found in many areas in Europe, Australia and many parts of South Asia,” Alam said. “It promotes a lot of diversity, and this is a good opportunity for all of us to get together.”