New cricket field will grow sport’s popularity at Wichita State

Wichita State graduate student Sai Karthik Jarnpudi also watched Wichita State University Cricket Club As it has grown in the past several years, the lack of a suitable place to play has limited its potential.

That will change soon with the opening of a field in Dr. Glen Dey Park, located about two miles from campus, is at 2801 N. Grove. The club held a groundbreaking event in April, and its opening ceremony is scheduled to be held at 5 p.m. on May 17. Jarnebody, who is working on a doctorate in cybersecurity, said he hopes to hold matches starting this month.

“(Now) we are taking a step forward,” he said. “I see cricket growing over the years here.”

The club — which has existed in some form at WSU for about 30 years — consists of about 100 members, which represents a significant increase from 2018, when Jarnebody took over as president. Six years ago, it was often difficult to get the 11 players in a squad needed to play.

The club previously practiced and played at Planeview Park, 2819 Fees St., approximately six miles from campus. The distance made gathering a team for training difficult, and they shared the stadium with other clubs.

“A lot of students don’t have transportation,” Jarnebody said. “There were days when I would drop five and go pick up five more. That’s why I reached out to WSU and pitched the idea to them: ‘Why don’t we have a field closer to WSU?’

Garnepudi began the project last fall with WSU Campus Recreation and Wichita Park & ​​Recreation Director Troy Houtman. Campus Recreation paid for the concrete pad on the new field. Cricket is played on a circular area and requires a diameter of about 150 yards.

“(Dey) Park has made biking distance, walking distance,” said John Lee, director of Campus Recreation. “It was never a reasonable distance to campus, so that’s what makes this exciting for them.”

Garnepudi said prospective students contact him with questions about the cricket culture at Wichita State. The availability of sports is one of the factors that influence the decision when students from countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh choose a university.

The Cricket World Cup is also expected to boost interest in the sport in the United States next June. The United States will play on the field for the first time, and the matches are scheduled to be held in Lauderhill, Florida, East Meadow, New York, and Grand Prairie, Texas.

“For international students, this is a very big advantage for WSU,” Jarnebody said. “People approach me and say: ‘Do you really have a cricket ground?’ We have our own field. We have a clubhouse. We play professional cricket. We play in the league.”

WSU practices on Friday and plays games on the weekend. The league includes teams from Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Bentonville, Ark.

“We always try to have a variety of sports that fit the needs of our students,” Lee said. “Cricket, for a lot of them, is part of their culture. It’s a fun game. There’s a lot of camaraderie that happens. You can talk. You can enjoy each other’s company.”

For information about WSU Cricket Club, email Sai Karthik Garnepudi

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