Keep calm and bat on, cricket returns to Fredericton's Officers' Square
150 years after the first cricket match on the grounds, a new generation of bowlers and batsmen arrive
A century and a half after it was first played in downtown Fredericton, cricket has returned to Officers' Square.
The Loyalist Cricket Club decided to hold a match to mark the 150-year anniversary after researching the history of cricket in the city.
The club discovered the square had been granted as a cricket ground and a husband and wife travelled it to watch the first cricket match there in 1868.
"They found the excerpt of a diary of a person who actually attended a game about 150 years ago," said Bradley Kersing, a member of the club.
It's not baseball
Despite the appearance the game of cricket isn't just "English baseball." There are unique rules that many weary fans will explain if the perceived similarity to baseball is brought up.
But Kersing said cricket has taken some cues from North American sports like baseball, particularly in the speed of play.
"Modern-day cricket very much replicates timelines very similar to baseball ... Very big hitting and it's more of an exciting style game," he said.
Kersing was referring to T20 cricket, in which matches usually last three hours. Traditional cricket can take much longer, as long as five days.
There are also differences in the mechanics: the field of play is larger, the bat is held lower and bowling (pitching) has different motions.
"Pitching in baseball you can bend your arm, you can cock your arm," said Blake Edwards, who plays for both the Loyalist Cricket and Rugby clubs. "In cricket, which was really hard for me to learn for the first couple months, you have to keep your elbow fully straight. So it's more of a windmill motion."
Game for everyone
The face of cricket has changed quite a bit in 150 years.
In 1868, it was largely the English who were seen as the dominant players. Now it has become a multicultural sport with players from India, Pakistan and the Caribbean often besting teams from the founding nation at the international level.
"When you look back to those historical records it certainly wasn't a multicultural event," said Kersing.
"I guess that is the nature of Canada and its changing nature of people, being such a multicultural country that it is. I look at our club, we've got players from all around the world."
Cricket is also a sport that can be played at all ages.
Edwards is also a rugby player and said cricket will be his "retirement sport."
"It allows people who retire from rugby to still stay around the club and be more involved playing a sport at the club," he said.
Kersing is optimistic that cricket will continue to grow in New Brunswick and Canada.
"Cricket is actually considered the fastest growing sport in Canada," said Kersing.
"As we continue to expand and grow we see maybe setting up more multi-sport, multi-purpose clubs together."