An acreage outside of Prince Albert Sunday morning was home to an uncommon sight in Saskatchewan. Awash in neon yellow kits, members of the P.A. Pythons cricket team hurdled small white balls at a batter.
The city's only cricket team had gathered for a last minute practice, as they are one win away from landing a spot in their zones semi-finals.
"It is just about the love for cricket," Mohib Mohammed, president and co-founder of the Prince Albert Cricket Association (PACA) said.
He and some close friends were inspired to assemble the association last spring, knowing "there are a lot of people in Prince Albert who love cricket" but "didn't have a good platform to express their talent.”
“There are quite a few cities that play a lot of cricket, but Prince Albert did not have any teams or anything."
In Canada, cricket is a lesser played but growing game, despite being the countries first national sport. For a healthy chunk of the globe, however, it is the preferred pastime, ranked only behind soccer for the title of most popular sport in the world.
Currently, though, the Pythons are short of a home ground and practice at a friends home on a makeshift pitch.
They were in talks with the city to find a permanent location for several months, and after some back and forth and bouncing around between contacts, the group was connected with the Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division, as the cost to level the ground at a few locations in the city was a tad steep for the non-profit.
After further discussions between maintenance personnel and the board, the field at Red Wing Public School was pegged as a possible future permanent home.
“The size is good and the grounds wouldn’t disturb the everyday school activities, plus it is isolated,” Raman Deep, a co-founder of the PACA said. “We gave them options for how we could chip in with the maintenance of the grounds but the final decision will be made by them."
Without a home pitch, the Pythons are forced to play all their games in Saskatoon. If they can secure a permanent location, a number of their Saskatchewan Cricket Associations T20 league games could be played at home.
“I think this would also popularize the game in Prince Albert and the area,” Deep said.
Despite the prolonged hunt, the club was “thankful" and “overwhelmed” by the help and understanding from the city and school division, more so as cricket was a new game for this part of the country. They are expecting to hear back from the division near the end of August.
The lack of location, however, has not hindered the clubs success.
Their makeshift pitch has allowed them to practise batting and bowling. The club is also rigorously attracting new members, growing from 11 to a squad of 17 within months and at times, upwards of 30 people are turning out for practice.
With the rapid expansion, the club anticipates there will be two teams coming from P.A. next season, adding to clubs scattered across the province in Saskatoon, Regina, North Battleford and Yorkton.
“We just want to bring people together and have some fun and be informative,” Mohammed said. “And that is the best part about cricket. It doesn’t matter which race or culture you come from, it brings everyone together.”
To start this, the PACA is hosting a Tape Ball Cricket Tournament in the city on Aug. 19 and 20 at their ad-hoc pitch. Seven teams are expected to take part.
The club is also looking to add new members and hopes to find sponsors soon as the organization is solely supported out-of-pocket by its members.
“We want it to grow and have programs for kids and everything,” he added. "We have really huge plans for future."
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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