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Cricket: Not to be Confused with Baseball


A new champion is about to be crowned in America's national pastime, baseball. But in northern California, it's playoff time for another bat-and-ball game.

It's a Saturday in Davis, California and, it's a beautiful day for...cricket. And this is no ordinary match. It is a playoff game, and emotions are running high. These two teams played through a hot California summer for a chance to play in this semi-final.

Twenty-five years ago, when Dan Sahadeo came to California from his native Guyana he could barely find enough players to field a team. He recalls, "In the West Indies cricket is like a disease, everybody is playing."

But, in the States cricket is largely unknown but Dan says he’s been playing for a long time, "I've been playing with the northern California cricket association for 20 odd years, so I run the show around here."

Dan's called the Godfather of Cricket in Davis. He's the team captain, organizes the games, maintains the fields, and has clinics for the refs (referees), which makes things a little dicey, when his team is trying to stay undefeated and he thinks the ref missed a call.

Speaking with the ref Dan disagree with a call, "From here we play this game under protest." Referee responds, "Right or wrong. You can play under protest."

Cricket's popularity in California has soared in recent years. There are now more than thirty teams with hundreds of players. It's due in large part to an influx of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent and the West Indies.

Rohit Tulpole is no newcomer to the game, "We've been from a region where cricket is like a religion you live with it, you grow up with that and then suddenly you are in the US, what am I going to do now."

Rohit Tupole, an Intel engineer, moved to California from India in 2000. He thought he had lost the game he loved, until some friends told him about the California cricket league. "It's like finding water in the desert."

There's something truly American about this league and the brand of cricket they play.

Since Rohit joined the Davis side he has been playing with Pakistani Hamayun Zahear.

Speaking among themselves:

Hamayun Zahear: "If I was in Pakistan it would be a thing, because people, it's what's around you, that's what you think, what people tell you, but over here it's like you don't even look at it that way."

Dan Sahadeo: "I'm sure in their hearts they know where they're from and they know what their gripe is, but nothing has ever surfaced out here."

Rohit Tupole: "It's a big deal actually. Initially, it was like ohh we're playing with Pakistanis. But, it's not like that, we're like good friends, we'veplayed good cricket with each other."

Hamayun Zahear: "We're always hanging out afterwards, just you know, getting together at somebody's house."

Ted Fons: "The atmosphere is similar to sort of like league softball ... town league softball, where it's very friendly everybody knows each other."

Ted Fons is one of the few Americans on the team. He grew up playing American sports, like basketball and baseball, but something about the British game had always interested him. "I used to live right down the street and I was just going by one day and I thought, oh great they're playing cricket."

Dan adds, "People are always excited when they find out, yes, there is cricket in northern California."

And as long as Dan Sahadeo is around there will be plenty more games to be played.

"Having led the league in so many categories in bowling this year you might say I should retire this year, but I mentioned that to a few of the guys and they were not liking it very well, so I may not retire," he said.

With Dan's help today -- Davis kept their unbeaten streak alive, now they've got a chance to win a city championship.

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